Science and Leadership for the Future: Interfaces

Ross Dawson recently gave a keynote address on Science and Leadership for the Future to a small group of major media and corporate clients of New Scientist magazine.

Given the context, he was able to delve a little deeper into the issues than he would for most audiences. The video of his presentation was sliced into a number of brief segments. Below is the video of the section of his presentation on Interfaces. Please click here to view the complete presentation.

Full Transcription: Science and Leadership for the Future – Interfaces

Ross Dawson:

So, look at a couple of domains where we’re seeing science and technology impacting the whole structure of how business is done, the nature of our society, and our role within that. We’re starting to see voice interfaces, gesture recognition, and many ways by which we can control our computers more effectively. One of the new domains now is that of thought interfaces, and extraordinarily fast progress on that front. In the case of the BrainGate project, this enables, in this case a tetraplegic, to be able to, for the first time in fifteen years, take a sip of coffee using her volition. This would require actually an implant in the brain, and we’re starting to see some non-interest ways to be able to use our brain to control our world, and there are many technologies on the market now. We’re also seeing that there is the real potential for individuals to make a choice to have a brain implant to be able to give them that degree of control over technologies. There’s a whole array of these technologies that enable us to control the world around us.

Now, Facebook bought Oculus Rift, which is the leading virtual reality headset manufacturer, and this, as you can see from these images, can be a pretty immersive and powerful experience to put on these glasses and actually to literally be in these worlds. The reason Facebook bought the Oculus Rift is not just because it can give a powerful experience. The people who set up Oculus Rift were gamers. They said, “Ok, we want to have a game. We want it more immersive.” Facebook imagined the time when we could have the experience of sitting in a boardroom with our fellow directors, and yet they’re sitting all around the world. We could have that feeling of immersion. This is the power of the possibilities of virtual reality.

Now, you may have seen this video or heard about Tupac Shakur, who performed at the Coachella Festival two years ago, thirteen years after he died. This was enabled not actually by advanced technologies, but simply is a projection on what is called a Pepper’s Ghost screen, which is 19th century technology & which creates a fairly compelling view, in this case Tupac performing a duo with Snoop Dogg on stage. Now what we’re seeing…this is not truly holographic, it is in fact a 2-D representation. You are starting to see now the science which underpins the potential for 3-D communication, true holographic communication at a distance. There have been a number of scientific studies which have been able to process 3-D images very quickly, to be able to have true holograms projected. We still need to increase the pace of transmission of those. Very promisingly, a company called Ostendo, which is significantly funded by the U.S. military, was recently featured in a Wall Street Journal article where they showed a video of a true 3-D representation which had been communicated over mobile phone technology. So there is the potential that in the next few years we’ll actually have mobile phones which can transmit holograms, and the impact of that is very powerful. It’s a long time ago that we thought this idea of Dick Tracy phones, being able to have video communication over our phone. This is now every day. What we’re starting to see is the potential for true immersive and potentially, again, being in a situation where we can’t distinguish the reality from the individual.

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