Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Zabosu Project: "Remote-Controlled Humans" Gone Pfffft, For Now

SUDDENLY  , THE DEAFENING LULL  after  the storm.

It  was only  a little more than  thirty days ago when  all the media hype and  the whole shebang  of  press statements abound ,   with much ado  about  
the  so-called  Zabosu Project       which  launched an  Internet-based   worldwide  campaign  crowdsourcing funds   for   some  $100,000  at least ---   to  kickstart  the launch  of  having  "remote-controlled humans"  via  4G technology.  

Technoprogressive  enthusiasts and  kibitzers  are wondering  about  the  silence  after all the  bubbly media hype  for  Zabosu  via   its    Kickstarter campaign for the project,  "a mobile marketplace for remote-controlled humans"   --    and  the  buzz seemed to have mellowed recently   as  enthusiasts  look  for clues if it is going boom, bust,  or  pffffft. 

This may be the second  time  that  Karl Lautman,  CEO  and creator of the  Zabosu  project will be shelving the idea due to lack of funding:   after grinning and bearing it through all the avalanche of  flak from all directions.  From the Kickstarter website, the  project ,after its  July 19 deadline,  had a  very poor finish :   only a total of  31 backers and some  $2985 pledges for funding,  which finally made the project succumb to shelving.

When it was cancelled the first time early this year,  Lautman said that  (the organizers) "
 had a choice between participating and trying to leverage sufficient PR from it to support our Kickstarter, or passing on it in order to devote an appropriate amount of time to a formal PR campaign ...  When it became obvious that the pitch-off would not offer sufficient leverage, Zabosu cancelled its Kickstarter to  regroup around a proper PR campaign." 

Everbody is now  mum  about the project apparently  shelved for the meantime:  Lautman ,   Kickstarter ( which  helped  promote  Lautman's idea  now   has no promotions at the moment),   and even  the  few backers who may have initially pledged  their  "interest" about the proJect.

Earlier,  the Zabosu proponents were all perky, bubbly and  bright-eyed with  what could be a "breakthrough"  ( many disagree with this)  from the doldrums of the  TaskRabbit    low-tech idea  of having another person do 
your task for you: whether it be buying a present for a loved one,    
attending a conference at the other part of the world, or doing 
  some  supermarket buying chores. 

“The inspiration for Zabosu came from Justin.tv, a web show in 2007 that followed Justin Kan as he roamed San Francisco with a backpack full of cellular data modems livestreaming audio and video of his life, pretty much 24/7,” says  Lautman.   “At that time, I thought how much more interesting it would be if viewers could talk back to Justin and tell him what to do, but the technology just wasn’t there yet.   When I finally saw 4G cellular networks on the horizon, which are capable of the requisite 1 Mbps upload speed, I began development of Zabosu in earnest.”

Terminator Cute

Truth is ,   there are  no  "remote-controlled humans"  per se  in this project,  no androids,  no cyborgs,  no computer-to-brain interface  "dictating"  the subordinate on what to do,  no  Stepford Wife  fembots,   no telepresence avatars.   The said phrase  could possibly  be Lautman's idea to  spice up the hype for some  "controversial flavor",  catching the attention  of the  tech  intelligentsia  community.

Simplified:  It's   more like  Skype-to-Skype  between  boss  (the so-called  "zab")  and  the subordinate  (the so-called "zuk")  ,  and  the  "zab"  giving directions  from the office/home,  while the "zuk"  is  out on field doing the task  for the "boss"   ---  all these  with a tweak customized for the Zabosu project.  

The Zabosu  marketing blitz transcended  what was thought of  as a  creepy idea on having  "remote-controlled  humans":   what with its  come-hither allure  for  the  easy-to-impress  EveryMan .  Hear this:

"Hi, Kickstarter! Zabosu’s developed an incredible, almost magical service that lets one person actually take control of another person, anywhere in the world there’s a 4G cellular signal. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. The person being controlled, who we call an “Actor,” starts our app and sticks their phone in a pocket (or on a lanyard) with the camera facing out to stream live audio and video of their surroundings."
"The person controlling them, who we call a “Director,” connects to the stream with a web browser to see and hear everything going on around the Actor, from the Actor’s point of view. The Director also speaks to the Actor using the computer’s microphone and the Actor’s earpiece. Because the Director is paying the Actor, the Actor does what the Director tells them to do. The intention, in most applications, is to make the Actor a human extension, or projection, of the Director into whatever environment the Actor happens to be in."

Zabosu Actor PageZabosu Actor Page

Zabosu App
Zabosu  App 

Kickstarter further writes: 

"Some of the things we imagine Zabosu being 
used for are  sightseeing,  running errands, shopping, 
virtual assistants, gaming, buying a home, 
remote tradeshow attendance, and technical assistance. 
There are also situations where you might want to 
control  multiple Actors simultaneously."

"Let’s say you’re looking for a new office and there

 are four  candidate spaces. You could hire four Actors 
and send one  to each space, even at the same time,
 to evaluate all the  candidates in less time than it would
 take you to visit even  one. Maybe you’re not looking 
for an office, though.  Maybe it’s a wedding venue.
 Or, a resort for the holidays.  You could even assemble
an army of Actors and make a bid for world domination
(you'd fail, horribly, but you definitely could try)."

"These are just our ideas, though, and one of the 
reasons  we're using Kickstarter is to find out how others
 might use Zabosu.  In the survey that goes out at the end
of the campaign, we’ll be asking you what your plans 
are for it, so we can better target it for people's
intended uses."


"The Zabosu web site will let Directors find and 
schedule Actors based on relevant characteristics like
 location, availability and skills. The site also archives 
the videos, so Directors, Actors and others (we call 
them “Viewers”) can watch them later."

"It’ll also let Actors (who are independent contractors
and not employed by Zabosu) create pages for themselves 
describing where they’re based, what they’re willing to
 do as an Actor, what they've specifically done for Directors,
 and so on."

"ZabosuConnect, the phone app used by the Actor 
(only Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” and later at launch) 
shows them where they are, where they’re supposed 
to be, what they’re supposed to be doing, and other 
handy stuff."

"So, what does this have to do with Kickstarter? Well, 
we’re super excited about enabling fun, valuable
and unprecedented human interactions, but just 
because  we think this stuff’s cool doesn't mean 
enough other people  will to make it a viable 
business. That’s where you come in.  If we hit our 
funding goal, we’ll know we’re on to  something 
awesome  and will keep working at it. The hardest 
and riskiest parts are already done (the app is fully
 functioning at this point).

 What’s left is all stuff the team has done many 

times before,  so we believe we’ll be able to launch by
 the end of the year."

c a1pgl80b0 Outstanding Android & Cyborg Digital Inspiration

Karl Lautman,  the main man at the helm of this project,   
more  popular with his background as  a sculptor-visual 
artist  whose works  have received  some recognition,   
could be  just gathering his  seond wind,  or  probably 
"third wind"  the next time he dishes out  his ideas  for the 
public  to ogle on.

Karl Lautman  

His ideas may be bizarre  or  out-of-this-world, and  he 
may say that he is entitled to these  conundrums of 
eclectic trends of thought and sudden outbursts  of 
unorthodox perspectives.   But  he  remains unperturbed
and  may be hurling  out  more  unconventional  ideas
for the  public  --  and the  subsequent  superlatives   
coming from all   fronts as usual,   may be  an ordinary 
occurrence  for Lautman.  

Lautman writes his statement:

"The power and ubiquity of technology has bred 
complacency among those who use it regularly
 (i.e. virtually everyone in the developed world). 
While most would agree that we should not place too 
much faith in machines, in reality we can't help taking 
for granted that the light will go on when we flip the switch, 
the car will start when we turn the key, the plane won't
 fall from the sky, .... Yet the capacity of machines
 to misbehave is endless.  In fact, it's their nature."

"I'm fascinated by this tension between what we want, and
expect, a machine to do, and what the machine "wants" to do.
I call it "machine tension,"   or just "McTension."
I explore McTension in my work  by making things that behave
unexpectedly, though  not strictly randomly. While the behavior
may  be easier to infer for some of my machines than  for others,
they all tend to have an unpredictable  (or, at least, 
difficult-to-predict) element to them."

"Whether it's calculating prime numbers on electromechanical 
counters, causing falling dominoes  to stand themselves up 
again, or generating organized  sequences of clicks on 
a relay (but at random intervals),  the effect is simultaneously
familiar and surprising.  

Pseudo-randomness isn't difficult to achieve, but also  isn't 

very interesting, so I strive to make my  work entertaining, 
sometimes even whimsical,  rather than impenetrable."

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