Dirk Knemeyer

Humanity as User Interface

Humanity as User Interface, May 12, 2016

The whole wearables thing is just a transitional phase. Embeddables are going to be where it’s at. Wearables are going to be clumsy clunky junk.

When you let your mind sort of go crazy and explore, it seems like dystopia all over the place, but, I don’t think the technologies will manifest that way. The technologies can’t manifest that way, and here’s why. To take your example of employers, employers being up in your shit, every damn thing you do at work, it’s not feasible, and the reason it’s not feasible is we as humans are not robots. We are going to rest, we are going to take moments where we are not linearly kerchunking away like John Henry on the railroad on the exact thing the employer wants us to do right in front of ourselves. If that level of monitoring existed, it would spoil the relationship between virtually every employee and every employer everywhere in the world, and that’s not going to happen, so, yes, there are a lot of interesting questions about where this could go, what could happen, how it impacts us, but a lot of them wouldn’t even be manifest because they would undermine the very fabric of reality.

We’re a long way away … I shouldn’t say that because neuroscience is moving very quickly, but we certainly don’t have a coherent sense yet of, and of course, it would have to be different for each person because we’re all wired so differently, but, we don’t yet have a coherent sense of the optimal way to work is in four hour shifts with two and a half hours being kerchunking, and a half an hour being daydreaming, and fifteen minutes being a power nap. At some point, that kind of stuff will be figured out, but I think we’re a long way away from that and it would only be in the context of that deeper understanding of how the human animal optimally functions that that sort of analysis of how people are spending their time at work, what they’re doing really has any value. Until that, it’s just voodoo.

I’m picking on that one example to sort of push back against the whole waterfall of interesting thought examples you had of these crazy ways it could go. A lot of them aren’t going to go that way because it would be completely undermining to the basic systems and functions we have in place. The ones that we should probably be more concerned about are the ones that would be more at the level of the government, Big Brother, tracking. Right now with our cell phones, we can be tracked in pretty granular ways, probably more so than we realize, and maybe it’s even happening in ways beyond what my naïve little brain would allow for.

I don’t know that embeddables change the game that much. I think where I’m interested with embeddables, at the end of the day, our eyes, our hands, our mouth, and other parts of our body are part of a UI. They’re part of a user interface between ourselves and the outside world and we’re going to get to a point where those user interfaces are less important, possibly to the point of obsolescence because everything can be straight into our brain, into our central nervous system, into the neurological and endocrinological and psychological aspects of who and what we are, so, we’ll have direct mind-to-mind communication, be able to picture each other in fulsome ways from across the country or from across the world, to download not even the literal sense of how we think of download per se, but to download huge chunks of data and thought.

That’s coming, it’s not super close, but we’re on that path. That opens up a lot of real interesting questions because then the frontier becomes the brain, the frontier becomes the self. Right now, cyber terrorists or hackers are trying to crack our thumbprint. Right now, our thumbprint gets us into our phone. We’re also moving towards ocular technology, right. The technologies of high resolution, which you talked about before will make it trivial for someone to copy my eye-print. Somebody who is just way off, that I don’t even realize is there is getting a picture of my eye in a way that it could in a high resolution way reproduce it, and make sort of ocular authentication completely irrelevant. That’s all trivial and that’s all greatly coming pretty much as fast as ocular recognition technology itself comes.

To me, where it gets more freaky and more interesting is when the brain becomes the final battlefield, is when we move beyond the eye, the thumb, the lettered passwords to where it’s the brain is the true essential self that is somehow unlocking systems communicating externally. Our self representation in the world is largely from our mind and spirit, whatever that is or isn’t, and that is going to be the frontier of hacking and that is going to be the frontier of terrorism. I think that’s where really interesting stuff starts to come, and now I’m going pretty far down the road.

There is a lot of learning to do, and we mysticize and privilege humanity, but we really need to step back and deconstruct it and think that we are just an IO device. Our bodies are our user interfaces, and the fact of when the wind blows, it blows my skin which makes me feel something, which makes things happen in my brain, those are all things that science can get to the point of first understanding directly from wind hitting all the way through the totality of things that you think can feel in a certain way, but the next step is to replicate those things, and whether it be wind on the skin, or the things you’re hearing in your ears or seeing with your eyes.

At the end of the day, that can be chunked down into IO stuff, into data in and data interpreted, and data making systems fire within our system, and science is well down the path of figuring those things out, and, once it’s done, the sky is the limit. Science, technology, it’s been the applied technology that has really driven the digital revolution. The next revolution to come is one that is going to be driven by the science.