I’m always up for discussion on any of my posts (and if you have any original sources you think are interesting, I’d love to see them!). The comments on this blog are closed simply because they get clogged with spammers faster than I can keep up. You can find me on social media via the links on the right.
The light is hidden in the wires. Evoked by precise circumstance.
Knowledge is power.
It’s an old adage, to be sure, and it’s right on the money. Mostly. Getting access to information is the first step. It’s the “easy” fix we all crave. As ubiquitous as big guns and fast ships are to sci fi, the acquisition of knowledge is one of the ultimate powers a any hero can lay hands on.
But knowledge is a thing. It’s an acquisition, albeit an intangible one. It’s something that you can hoard, something you can keep or spend. But knowing how to APPLY that knowledge, that right there is the key to power. That’s what puts a person in the Presidency, not his or her personal smarts, but how to apply the smarts of the people who HAVE all the information.
A cyberpunk future, where we can download knowledge straight to our grey matter, is on the horizon. But it’s not going to help anybody. It’s not going to make anything better simply because people can learn facts (with all the petaflops of information out there right now, cat videos are still what everybody googles for first thing in the morning). Downloading just HOW to apply that information, grabbing slivers of more experienced lives and minds, THAT is going to be where the true power lies.
In games we use collisions to figure out what touches what. It’s not a precision tactic, in fact, it’s one of the reasons you sometimes get hung up on “invisible” objects, or see someone’s arm stuck through a chair, but it IS one of those things that makes games possible. It simplifies the interaction so that you can run a virtual world full of dozens of people and hundreds, even thousands of objects.
This bit about using ultrasound to create in-hair haptic feedback seems to me to be an ideal intersection. For many applications, you don’t need precision, you don’t need to have a shape mapped out perfectly to get a reasonable interaction with it, so even with the very simple forms this ultrasound system can generate, you should be able to get some very good results.
Over the past few years, I’ve read a few online horror stories about working in the Amazon fulfillment centers. About how body-breaking those picking jobs can be, how options are limited and the pay is not enough to help pay to fix the physical problems a job like that can generate.
So I’m torn. These jobs sound wretched. They sound like sheer torture. I can easily see how you’d want to develop a mechanized/robotic system to make it cleaner, more efficient and move away from breaking people to get the job done. Robots can do the kind of scut-work that will put a human in the hospital over time and the people are saved (yay people!)
But on the other hand, as hard and as painful as they may be, those ARE jobs. They can provide for those people, those families. So by saving the people, we are, with the same stroke, harming the people by taking away that opportunity.
In the sci-fi/cyberpunk that I write, I haven’t explored this specific human cost (yet), I utilize warehouses full of AI driven robots for some areas of the story, but this has got me thinking about the development of those warehouses, how they came to be as mechanized and what happened to all the people who used to work there. I have some research to do here, and might have a new story or two to write.