Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Interface is Disappearing

There are a series of short videos posted on the BBC's Click: The World of Technology Across the BBC highlighting advancements in eye-tracking, eye-control, neurotechnology (electroencephalogram) and gesture recognition hardware/software.  But you probably already have experience with interface technologies like smartphone touch-screens, voice simulation/recognition, Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect.

The interfaces we use to interact with media are diminishing and disappearing. Motion detectors, eye-tracking systems, and brain-computer interaction (BCI) enable users to interact directly with content. Just as the remote control has changed the way we watch television, these technologies are destined to change how we interact with all forms of media and to make the distinction between media and our own minds less clear.

The long-term effects are twofold.  First, in the absence of a physical interface, we become less conscious of the difference between mediated and non-mediated experiences.  Thus, as augmented reality is copiously pasted upon the physical world, it begins to appear completely malleable and subject to human will.  Second, the extent of individual human agency will be contingent upon success in managing the interface and the plasticity of boundaries between the individual and the technology.

The implications of the second long-term effect coincide with what has been referred to by Kurzweil as the Singularity: the point at which humans merge with technology.  Some will be better adept and more comfortable with this than others.  If you like to rely on intuition, are skeptical about technology, and prefer face-to-face interaction, you're probably not looking forward to this union.  Therefore, those among us who are best suited for success in the future are those who are the least human.

No comments: