Dirk Knemeyer

Genomics for the Few, AI for the Many, December 22, 2016

The big difference between AI and genomics is that AI is going to be changing the lives of all of us really soon. Really soon. Whereas genomics is going to change the lives of the wealthy really soon, and may or may not change the lives of the rest of us any time soon. For me when I think of genomics in sort of juxtaposition to AI which we talked about before, that’s what I think about, is the fact that AI really matters to all of us. Genomics matters to the elite, and hopefully will matter to more of us over time, but I’m not counting on it anytime soon.

Whether it be me sort of dictating the kind of child that would sprout from the proverbial loins of myself and a partner, or my life extension or my life enhancement at some sort of large important scale, I mean those are simply things that will be reserved for the elite for probably many years after first becoming truly commercializable. It’s just a question if they can ever get to the point, or if they should get to the point of mattering for all of us.

Engineering the Human Animal, June 2, 2016

We’ve mapped the genome, of course we’re going to fabricate a genome. There’s going to be some ethicists that are wringing their hands, but science is well on its way here.

Where I’m going with this, and tying back into this conversation, is I’ve talked a number of times on the show about humans having bad programming. Let me get into that with more specificity. When we were unsophisticated beings going back, I probably need to know my history of human biology better, but going back many thousands or millions of years, it was important that essential in our programming was drive to procreate, for example. For that to be just this inherently important code in how we behaved as a creature was essential, and it’s what allowed our species to continue and to reach a point of dominance over the rest of the animal kingdom and get to the point today where our ability to think and reason and logic is incredibly evolved and sophisticated.

That old, human code was important for that moment, but in today’s world with the way that we’re able to see the world, the way that we function in societies in the world, that code is garbage code. It’s like if you were looking at the latest and greatest software today, it would be like getting an app that’s totally coded in basic. People would be like, “What the hell are they doing? It’s using this code that is so unsophisticated, such bullshit.” We can’t use that code. We need to be using the latest and greatest code. Human programming is still done in fricking basic. I talked about male sexual urges and the deleterious impact that those have on other people in the society specifically but then in the society in total. That’s bad fricking programming. That’s a lot of basic code that is still crumming up how we behave and how we function in the world.

My saying this today is going to sound to most people like it’s crazy. It’s going to sound to most people like I’ve gone off my rocker, but as these technologies around the genome progress, as we learn to fabricate the genome, as we learn to fabricate a human being, as we learn to engineer babies, as we learn to reverse and re-engineer children and adults and humans, that’s going to come in the future. That’s a ways down the road. I’m going to tell you right now, at the point that that becomes a reality, all these other things in the world will have changed to the point where people are going to shrug and say, “Yeah, of course we have bad code. Of course we have crummy code. Of course we should be taking advantage of those technologies.”

That stuff today in 2016, or 10 or 15 years ago when I first started talking about this stuff, might sound crazy, but in 20-blabbity blah, decades up the road when this shit is reality, it’s not going to sound crazy at all. The kind of work that’s being done now by people like George Church, by companies like Gen9, by these things the mainstream media are totally ignoring and people are not aware of are going to be the technologies that allow us to evolve beyond our broken basic crappy code that was necessary when we were thoughtless, stupid creatures just trying to battle our way to the top of the animal kingdom. That’s going to all go away and be replaced by something else that is coming from these kinds of technologies, possibly or probably, and the world is going to be ready for it and not only accept it, but embrace it because in the context of our evolution as a species, it simply makes sense.

UX Without Interfaces, March 5, 2015

Nature is the best technology of all. The more that we can learn from it, the more advanced the things that we’ll be able to build to extend ourselves will be. The other thing, I think, for listeners of this show that might be particularly relevant is having data storage in DNA is part of what’s going to be an increasingly growing trend which is basically interfaceless experiences.

If we assume that those path of data storage storing within our own genes basically is optimal, there’s no place for user experience in there. There will need to be a user interface, of course, but at that level it will be a system level of “here’s the physical interface between the being and the computing stuff that shoves the data in”.

This is a whole category for which there is no need for UX, there is no need for UI, at least in the ways that we think about them and at least in the ways that employ a whole bunch of people currently.

Data storage is just one really good example of something that’s going to be happening across a wide front, namely that we’re heading towards interfaceless experiences. That would be troubling perhaps for the many, many, many, many people who are training up and getting into what is currently a very vibrant user experience job marketplace.