Dirk Knemeyer

Personal Computing Ecosystem, May 25, 2016

Right now, there’s too many devices in the personal computing ecosystem. We’ve got our laptop or desktop main machine. We’ve got our iPad tablet device. We’ve got our smartphone. Now they’re proposing to bring watches in at a little different level but still in that ecosystem where things like the Fitbit or these sort of complimentary IoT devices. Brass tacks, there should be no more than two personal computing devices that cover all of the use cases that people need within their ecosystem. There may be other accessories off that. I have my laptop. I also have a big monitor that the laptop plugs into. At the end of the day, the laptop is the computing device. Right? Right now, the market is trying to make four different devices fit in. Again, the personal computer, the tablet device, the smartphone device, and the watch-like device, and that’s two devices too many. It’s why watches are flailing.

I think there’s a great opportunity for innovation for the company that really nails what are the two devices. In the long term, it’s one device because the nanotechnology, the miniaturization will get to such a point that we have one thing that is the personal computing thing with accessories coming off it. Pushing that onto the farther out shelf, in the nearer term, the company that can solve for here are the correct two computing devices in people’s ecosystem to solve these use case in sort of the best hybrid way, that’s what we really need. Trying to solve at the watch level is putting one more unnecessary device into the stream. It’s just strategically wrong.


Localized AI Tools, March 31, 2016

One of the easy things that he was programming it to do was, if you put in a Minute clinic and a zip code, it will tell you what the wait time is at the local Minute clinic. In zip codes there’s multiple stores. There’s some issues there but what would really be powerful would be if it was truly localized to the individual. What I mean by that is, here at the studio we eat out at the restaurants that we have access to here in Arlington Center quite a bit.

What would be easy, what would be great is if it knew when we say Thai restaurant, it’s talking about one specific place. If we say the Burritos, it’s talking about one specific place. Suddenly, that thing with the local contact as a bot will be able to make a round trip orders for us in seconds. We type in what we want and then it’s all just done, but with the bots being designed as these global things, it can’t discern when I say Thai, that it means the restaurant to our left, not across the street and to our right. If I say pizza, it means the place that’s a lot farther, that’s really good as opposed to the place that’s closer and sucks.

There’s this gap with programming being done at the global level, we’re trying to write a bot that covers everyone everywhere in a generic way. The usefulness doesn’t get that deep. Where it gets deep is where it’s more localized, where it’s more specific to us in the examples I’m using just because of the very micro geography that we’re in and our taste preference as opposed to the more generic glom and so bridging that gap, is where a lot of the really exciting things will start to happen in the sort of software you’re talking about to really get at the local personal level and convert that into care as opposed to the generic and the macro.


Higher Fidelity Media Consumption, January 7, 2016

When I’m home I’m often relegated to watching something on my phone or my laptop screen. My iPad is now broken but previously my iPad screen would have been a common one. Now during this break I had some times when the family was gone, I could stream on Chromecast to the giant TV, work and have it on the giant TV. I was happy. It was a much richer and more enjoyable experience than trying to work on my laptop with my iPhone with this tiny screen with the movie going or something. It was much more humane, it just felt good instead of feeling forced and broken. There’s that balance.

The realities of how our homes are designed today, the realities of how our computer ecosystems are designed today are such that in order to satisfy out different content desirements we’re locked into the small screens and these hobbled experiential moments. Those aren’t the best ways for consuming that content. I expect as more time goes on we’ll gravitate away from the strictly utilitarian personal desires being met to something that’s far more experientially rich, even while leveraging allowing us to see what we want to see as opposed to the whole family watching some compromised thing that no one wants to watch.


Pre-Crime & Social Engineering, August 13, 2015

This is a great example of where big data is so powerful. If you have science, if you have an infrastructure that you can pour a lot of data into, that it has some validity to it, suddenly you can determine some really interesting and powerful things. One of those, potentially, is the likelihood of people to commit crimes again.

If you know that I have an 82% chance of committing another violent crime, for me, as a citizen, and considering human rights, and the rights of the citizens, I want me as the 82% future violator to be controlled. I don’t want the 82% future violator to be given that 82% chance to harm and destroy other people. That doesn’t seem equitable to me. My saying that, probably to a number of people listening to this show, is very controversial, which gets to the complexity of the issue.

I think it’s really interesting stuff, and we’re heading toward a whole new moral battleground that we haven’t had to deal with in our culture in the past. It’s coming fast, and it has the potential of doing much more good for the society, and for our citizens. Probably if we go down that path at the expense of individual rights, in ways we become accustomed to taking for granted. I’m fascinated to see how this all plays out.


The Future of Food Choice, August 6, 2015

We’ll see about the 3D printing of food. Another macro issue, of course, is global warming and the environmental challenges from burning fossil fuels. A century from now, we will no longer have trucks driving from one state to the next, one destination to the next, planes flying with food. As long as those type of vehicles are burning fossil fuels to accomplish those trips, either there’s going to be a massive change in technology that enables transportation of goods that aren’t really required, that are really surplus and luxury for the most part, that enables them to be transferred, traveled around for our whim.

I like Shark brand sriracha from Southeast Asia. I like Arizona Gunslinger hot sauce from Arizona. I like Alaskan wild salmon. There’s going to have to be a massive change in how vehicles are powered for us to continue having those kind of foods. Will that be realized or not? I don’t know. I’m not enough of an expert in power. The fact that we don’t see anything certainly isn’t a good sign after a century of burning the hell out of oil and even longer than that if we’re thinking about the burning of coal which preceded it.

There could be these other macro things that are forcing us down a path of 3D printed food, that it needs to be something akin to astronaut ice cream as opposed to akin to the real solid foods that we have today. What does that look like? I don’t know. I think the main determining factor is going to be, are we able to transport luxury goods hither and thither as we do today? That’s going to be a question of power generation and who knows, who knows.


Hackers Hurting Our Physical Selves, July 30, 2015

It’s a great foreshadowing of how we’re moving into a period where our connected computing devices are integrated into our lives in a way where they can be used to hurt us physically. They can used to hurt us for real, so hacking, until now, the limits of it were basically identity theft, which is not great. If you really had your identity stolen, there could be some big inconveniences and, depending on how you react to it, potentially big problems, but there’s nothing that can physically harm you directly, as if a weapon is hitting you.

Here, we have this exploit where somebody could take your car and, with the little picture they showed with the article, drive it right into a ditch. You could be killed by a hacker who gets into your device and gives it instructions to take you off path and put you in the way of physical harm.

This is just the beginning. This is going to be a lot more in the future, not less, as the devices are either integrated into us physically. By into us, I’m not talking necessarily about from a cyborg prospective, but just from touching our bodies, or from controlling things in and around our bodies that, if taken in a certain direction, could cause us harm. To me, it’s just sort of a warning sign for something that those of us on the inside have known is coming. This, now, is really showing it to the mainstream and saying, “Look at the potential of what can happen,” and again, it’s just the beginning.


On Not Needing To Work, July 16, 2015

Once upon a time, it was necessary for people to work in order to create the things that they needed to subsist. If they didn’t work to create those things, they would be incapable of subsistence. We are today at a point where machines make it … If you throw out the capitalism part, and throw out the fact that the money and thus the power is not distributed evenly, so you’ve having to try to get more of it to pay for things, but the technology and the infrastructure exist so that we no longer need everyone to work for our subsistence. The combination of human capital and technology make it so that subsistence is less than everyone working.

Now we’re all working either to provide luxuries on top of subsistence, or just to keep this structure, the capitalist economic structure, going. This is a giant evolutionary arc, and where we’re heading, the things like Hillary Clinton’s talking about, the idea of people are going to contractors. It’s clear that the old model is breaking down and changing. Those are all steps toward our not needing to work for subsistence or luxuries. It’s getting to the point where it will be well less than a hundred percent of human capital on top of technology required to provide everything that we would want or need.

The result of that is that people literally don’t need to have jobs. They don’t need to work, other than to make money, other than to accumulate power and leverage within the society most locally, or civilization more broadly. We’re approaching a time where the world could shift in really massive ways, because it’s simply not required for people to work to create the things that are needed to keep life going. The question is: what then? One of the byproducts of work, and I’ve mentioned this I think in passing on other shows, but I don’t think we’ve gotten into it too deeply. One of the byproducts of work is a form of social control, so if I’m working, I can’t be getting drunk, because I don’t have anything to do. I can’t be sleeping with the neighbor’s wife. I can’t be doing things that are potentially destabilizing to social systems of people co-habitating in modern civilization.

The question is how is that going to shake out? As we reach a point, and it’s coming. It’s decades, not years, but it’s really coming, it’s close. It ain’t centuries, that’s for damn sure. As we reach the point that most of the work can be done by technology, that’s going to leave a lot of people without needing to work as a means of providing the things that the society is trying to provide. What are they going to do with their time? To me, that’s the big and interesting question that gets lost in the froth and churn over viewing it in the current economic system of upper class and middle class, and forty hour work weeks. I think a lot of those things are going to get completely blown out by the direction this takes, and the thing that’s just not totally clear is what direction it does take, because there’s a few different that it could.


Does VR Live Up to the Hype?, June 18, 2015

Will this [virtual reality] wave live up to all the promise? No, it certainly won’t. It’s a cool gadget. Where the technology is now it’s something where you use it once and it’s sort of amazing. I use it twice or three times and it starts to get stale. There’s a novelty aspect to where the technology is now. It’s cool that they’ve got it where it is, but beyond that there’s not a whole lot of there there. We have in our five senses such high fidelity input devices, and the fidelity on these cutting edge virtual reality devices is just nowhere near that. It’s giving us a simulacra of something else in a way that is not at all maximizing the sensorial potential that we all have.

It’s interesting to a point and then at some point what’s the point? Because the technology can’t take us to places where the marketing would promise. Facebook’s big thing is that, oh they’re thinking way out. They’re way outside the box and these are teleportation devices. That is such hipster bullshit. I’m sorry. There might come a day when technology that’s down this kind of a path gets to a point where you could, it’s literally not a teleportation device, but you could market it that way because of the great high fidelity level that it brings two or more people together “in a virtual space,” but it’s nowhere near that now, nowhere near it at all. It’s interesting and I think there’s a place for it. There’s a product category for it, but it’s nowhere near where the hype and the marketing are whatsoever.

I think they’re far-flung fantasies right now. You talk about surgery for example. We want a surgeon with this big, ungainly, heavy, odd thing on their head and physically manipulating someone’s body? That’s crazy. That’s just, it doesn’t make any sense. Yeah, we can dream and say, “Oh, there’s all these interesting things,” but does it really make sense to do those things with this big awkward thing strapped to us? I don’t think so. We can have giant monitors that push the same visual content to us. We an have other input devices for the audio and for the other things and still have our full range of motion and still have our full sense of being.

I think the really exciting things will come farther in the future, but the generation that we’re at now, it’s going to live like a gaming console where it’s something you have at home, it’s something you have in a specific place. It’s going to be kind of geeky. I read one of the articles that you forwarded to me about this, they were talking about protocol for using this. Someone was saying, “Yeah, if you’re the one without the headset, don’t be surprised if you get punched.” It’s your fault, basically. What the hell is that? This device is such that if somebody’s using it, everybody’s got to clear way the hell away or they’re going to get punched or kicked? That’s dumb. We’re coming at a time where we’re living in increasingly smaller domiciles, increasingly smaller spaces. We’re going to put this things on and have us gesticulating around and meeting protocols where we need five feet in every direction. It’s really dumb.

The idea that we’re going to walk around on the street with them? That’s completely idiotic. Google Glass was one of the things that sort of sunk that notion, was having that on your head, and that was really not intrusive at all. These things are horrible. I read one guy was saying the big concern is you have to worry about it being stolen because you’re lumbering around not paying attention to what’s around you with this big expensive thing on your head. Somebody rips it off and runs away. It’s just dumb. At the level that they’re trying to market it and tout it as something like a gaming device. As something an experiential device that people use in a limited, private context, okay. I can see that. Probably not for me, but I grock it and the technology’s going to just get better and better, so the potential of it I don’t think is as grand as they make it seem, but I think it’s the start of something that’s at least interesting and worthy of experimenting with.


Apple Watch Will Be a Failure, June 11, 2015

Apple’s jumped the shark. The idea of these [release] events being memorable and interesting and giant buzz-worthy things are garbage. Apple has settled into the same kind of status that Microsoft has had for decades, of a company that has had it’s best acts in the past and is living off of those past glories and is trying to wrap shit with a bow and tell us it doesn’t stink. I don’t know why anyone cares about these announcements anymore. I certainly don’t.

Consistent with Apple’s vision-less execution, in recent years, they’ve taken [an event] that had real cache, that “one more thing” was exciting. It wasn’t necessarily every time, hint-hint. It was like, “We’ve got something special that we want to do and it’s really going to take your breath away.” They’ve totally piddled that away.

I think they’re just totally out of touch. If you go into Whole Foods in Cupertino, CA, you’re gong to find yourself surround by a lot of people who look like they could and would support the iPhone and the Apple watch. You’ll see a lot of those people. You’ll even see people using both of those devices. That’s the bubble that Apple lives in. I’ve been to that Whole Foods, I’m talking about a very specific place here.

If you go and randomly pick 100 towns in the United States. If you had a random generator and you went into whatever is the closest thing to a Whole Foods in those towns. Most certainly wouldn’t have Whole Foods, right? You’re probably going to end up in more mass market supermarkets and if you observe the people in those places you will immediately realize that there is no market for this beyond the very small-high percent.

Again, what are you creating? The iPhone has penetrated into those markets. You’ll see people who, from a socioeconomic perspective, look like they probably couldn’t or shouldn’t be spending money on that kind of thing, but they are armed with their smartphone. Adding an expensive watch into that ecosystem is just stupid.


Apple’s Watch Signals Decay of the Company, March 10, 2015

More than anything, [the watch] signals the demise of Apple from the standpoint of being a real innovator. Of offering a trailblazing sort of unique solution in the personal computing space. The iWatch is their biggest announcement, the thing they’ve beaten the drum on the hardest since the iPad. What was the iPad, 2010? It’s been five years. They basically had no big announcements.

This one, this is the product that they’re really hanging their hat on. All of the hierarchy is genuflecting and acting like this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s a really bad sign.

Again, I’m sure from a financial perspective, they’re still going to keep selling products hand-over-fist, but what we’re seeing is the real erosion of their position as the leader. Five to ten years ago whenever I would be in a meeting with a potential client, not everyone but most of them ostensibly, they’d say, “We want to be like Apple. We want our stuff to be like Apple stuff.”

Those days are going fast and there’s no sign of them coming back. At the same time, we’re seeing really interesting new things from Amazon, from Google, from some other companies. The things that are more likely to draw attention aren’t coming from Apple. They’re coming from other places which is concerning.

I expect the next big thing to come from, frankly, Amazon or Google. I think those are the two big ones.

Another problem with it too which flows out of what you just said is that the average person can afford it. One thing that, in the past, I liked about being an Apple user along with their great innovation was not everybody have their stuff. I’m increasingly shocked as I go through the world how so many people of all income brackets, of all levels of the socioeconomic strata are carrying around iPhones despite the expense of the device and/or despite the expense of the carrier plan.

That’s not going to be the case with the iWatch and the problem that they have is now they’re catering to presumably just more wealthy people. Watches like that market has a lot of really gorgeous high end well designed stuff. By comparison that the iWatch is a really clumsy, hacky thing.

I guess maybe they can hope that wealthy people want to differentiate themselves against the masses by being the once who are mobile computing with an iWatch as oppose to an iPhone, but if that’s the bet they’re taking, that’s a long one indeed.