Love and AI

Will an AI ever learn to love? How does that question make you feel? Silly? Embarrassed? Stupid? Love is the source of our greatest power but, paradoxically, is the thing that makes us feel most vulnerable, to the point that most of us avoid talking about it at all. We literally die without it when we’re infants, and we organize our adulthoods around accounting for … Continue reading Love and AI

Gabe Gets It

My late maternal grandfather, a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, once introduced me to an army friend of his named Ray Hunt. The occasion was an annual meeting of the Legion of Valor, an organization for veterans who’d earned the Distinguished Service Cross, Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, or Air Force Cross.

Sgt. Hunt had a remarkable story to tell. He’d escaped the Bataan Death March and fought behind Japanese lines, fighting as a guerilla soldier in the jungles of the Philippines for three years. When I met him in 1996 he was a man in a blazer nursing a scotch on the rocks in a Red Lion ballroom in Glendale, California. I asked him how he managed to stay alive and sane in such a dangerous environment. He had a simple answer: “I never stayed in one place more than a week at a time, and I woke up every morning  convinced I would die that day.”

I thought of Ray Hunt recently when I read about remarks about VR’s prospects by Valve CEO Gabe Newell. Here’s the quotable bit:

We think VR is going great. It’s going in a way that’s consistent with our expectations. We’re also pretty comfortable with the idea that it will turn out to be a complete failure.Continue reading “Gabe Gets It”

What If We Started Using the Word “Bands” Instead of “Teams”?

Maybe you played sports in high school. You played on a team. Or even of you didn’t play on a team, you cheered for your team. On Friday nights you’d watch your team go up against another team, from another high school that was geographically close to your own. You differentiated your teams by color and mascot. One team would defeat the other. If your … Continue reading What If We Started Using the Word “Bands” Instead of “Teams”?

Confronting the “Is This the End?” Stories

Amazon dot toast.

51m967vm7gl
The Handspring Visor

That was the term one tech news writer used to describe the online retailer, way back in the twentieth century. I remember those years very well. For a couple of them I lived on First Hill, just a few blocks away from the Kozmo.com warehouse. This meant that I could order a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a DVD and have them delivered to my door in twenty minutes. The Matrix was in theaters and Fatboy Slim was churning out ear worms. I apprised on my upcoming meetings with a handheld device called a Handspring Visor. We seemed to be standing on the doorstep of a brilliant future of convenience and steady technological advancement. And we were, though first we had to go through a few disruptive adjustments and endure some years when the future looked a bit more dim. Continue reading “Confronting the “Is This the End?” Stories”

Parsing the Magic Leap Schadenfreude

georgetown
Ms. Knowles-Carter was here.

I’ve noticed that a significant number of VR pioneers react to bad PR from Oculus and Magic Leap with glee. The Germans came up with a word for taking pleasure in another person’s suffering, schadenfreude. Most of us indulge in it from time to time, as when we revel in the career stumbles of various celebrities, make jokes about politicians’ gaffes, or chuckle when someone slips on a banana peel. It’s part of human nature.

Yesterday, The Verge ran a story with the provocative title, Beyoncé reportedly tried Magic Leap, and thought it was boring. Eva Hoerth posted the link on Facebook and the comments filled up with digs at the secretive company. (Incidentally, I have learned that  Beyoncé tried the device at the Georgetown Magic Leap offices during a recent Seattle tour stop.) Continue reading “Parsing the Magic Leap Schadenfreude”

Horribly Written Article Announces Release of Apple AR Device

A website called VR Status, which I assume is operated by intelligent, talented, and well-meaning people who are worthy of love, has broken the news that Apple is set to release an augmented reality headset. What most surprised me about this article was how poorly written it is. Look, I am as guilty of typos as anyone, and I understand the corners one cuts to … Continue reading Horribly Written Article Announces Release of Apple AR Device

Moon Shots and Sky Muse Studios

On Saturday, Stanwood’s Sky Muse Studios screened a documentary called Fight for Space about NASA’s somewhat checkered history. The feature included archival footage of various missions and launches interspersed with commentary from astronauts and public scientists like Neil Degrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. Directed by Paul Hildebrandt, the film is a plea for reinvigorated interest in a space program that sent men to the moon but nowadays does little to capture the public’s imagination.

All the music and sound for the film was produced at Sky Muse under the guidance of founder Ron Jones. Before the screening, Ron spoke a bit about how the studio was conceived two years ago and how he assembled a team of young engineers and musicians from area community colleges. His audience of twenty or so guests sat in fold-out chairs on risers in the room where the film’s music was recorded. Continue reading “Moon Shots and Sky Muse Studios”

Virtual reality is art. Treat it accordingly.

Writing about virtual reality, for me, is really just an excuse to hang out with artists. My paternal grandfather was a commercial artist and landscape painter, and some of my most treasured early memories are of sitting on his lap with a big pad of paper in front of us, drawing pictures together. I loved that moment when a collection of lines magically turned into a dog, a house, a little person. If he were a young man today, I suspect my grandfather would be enchanted with Tilt Brush and Paint Lab. Continue reading “Virtual reality is art. Treat it accordingly.”

Check Out the New Seattle VR Events Calendar

Seattlevr.us has a nifty new calendar to help the community keep track of all the demos, workshops, conferences, meetups, hackathons, and myriad other events going on all over town and beyond. Trond Nilsen, one of the intrepid brains behind Seattlevr.us, announced this change yesterday via Facebook and is encouraging anyone with questions or feedback to message him there. You can also use the Seattlevr contact … Continue reading Check Out the New Seattle VR Events Calendar