Friday, June 5, 2009

Google Wave

Google Wave is convergence. If it makes it into people's hands in time it could likely replace or become the new foundation for most of our current textual communication and collaboration tools. This includes things like email, chat and bulletin boards but also extends to the type of thing Google Docs is trying to do and Etherpad has improved upon. All of these things are good and will likely change the way people work together in a manner that is both dramatic and positive. However, the aspect that seems the most profound and offers the most possibility for a radical paradigm shift is this: computers can participate just like everyone else.

The reason I believe this will radically change both the way we interact with computers and their capabilites centers on the core contribution of Google Wave, namely, convergence. What this offers is a chance for autonomous intelligent agents (i.e. computers) to easily gain access to not only the final product of communcation and collaboration but to the very process itself. Furthermore, rather than cast them in the role of passive observer it places them on equal footing with the people involved in the process.

It turns computers into collaborators.

This provides the potential for agents to gain easy access to all the elements essential to learning: observation, interaction and feedback and opens the door to a revolution in our relationship with machines.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Just to get it out of the way, I do believe that technological progress follows an exponential curve and that the near future will produce marvels which radically reshape our lives. What I have issue with is the name. And it's implications.

There will never be a 'Singular' point past which we cannot see. What's seems more likely is that future developments in our own technology will become increasingly difficult to foresee, allowing us to see less far into the future for a given amount of resources spent trying to do so. One response to this is an increasing amount of our time and energy dedicated to doing this very thing with a possible result being that our ability to predict remains constant or even increases.

Anyone who's ever spent any time working with exponential functions can tell you: they look the same at any scale. This is actually the feature which makes them some of the most important functions in mathematics. This is not the sort of function which gives rise to 'Singularity' type behavior. In fact, in this regard, it's the very opposite of the type of function which does, namely, those with asymptotic behavior.

The only possible savior for the concept of 'Singularity' is the idea that some sort of scale is imposed naturally by virtue of our humanity or some other facet of our civilization or universe.