AI and AR – views from a recovered digital addict.

James

The Romans are always going to be invading.

If not the Romans, then it’s the Prussians. Or the Empire. Or Nestlé. Or the Chinese. Or Facebook. Or ByteDance.

In this case, it’s the rise Artificial Intelligence. This one is impossible to escape.

Obviously, we’re seeing some pretty crazy exponential growth going on.

In just 4 months we’ve seen the eruption of AI-assisted tools like Midjourney, ChatGPT 3.0 > 3.5 > 4.0, Microsofts $10 billion acquisition, and more. Things are propelling forwards at rates never before seen.

This growth I think will be as drastic as the shift the world saw with mass-adoption of the internet and the smartphone, but supercharged off the backs of those techs.

For years we thought:

AI is smart, but it can’t do creative things like draw, code, or sing or have emotion.

– Pretty much everyone, 2021.

It turns out the things it can actually do best is exactly that – creative tasks.

First, I think AI is the wrong word. The intelligence is not artificial – it’s very real. It’s based off humanities collective intelligence. I think a better term is Generative Intelligence. Now these models can generate answers, arts, voice, music, videos, websites – everything. And better than almost all of us.

For time-capsule purposes, this text was written in April of 2023 – only a few months after we saw the public release of ChatGPT. GPT-4 has just launched a week ago. It will remain largely unedited for reflections sake.

The past of media

For decades the format of digital media has been largely unchanged – a rectangular two-dimension screen where your content is nested. Movies, games, shows, political events. Even clickbait and photoshopping has existed for over a century.

The past isn’t going anywhere either – it’s commonplace, accessible, and affordable to all. However, once you understand the complete paradigm shift about to occur, things are going to get very weird. First some backstory to preface.

The past of me

I was addicted to tech. I didn’t even know it. I was blissfully unaware of the real estate it owned in my head just a decade back.

  • Wake up – on phone.
  • Breakfast – on phone.
  • Lunch break – on phone.
  • Bathroom – on phone.
  • On bus – on phone.
  • Before sleep – on phone.

Constant focus driven to new videos, new phones, memes, games – you name it. 7 second feedback loops conditioned into my mind. Back then screen-on time wasn’t recorded, but I’m mortified to think what the data would show.

7 years ago I had the Oculus Rift and a wild gaming computer. Back then I was big into gaming, and the new Virtual Reality world seemed incredible. I immediately knew this is the future of it all.

  • Computer: on
  • Headphones: on
  • Headset: on
  • Vibration seatback: on
  • World: off

Transferred into a full-view virtual landscape, escapism was never easier. I was all Ready Player One as immersion was cranked way beyond previously possible. I even became a better driver from the rally racing simulators I would play! What a joyous world with possibilities of education, creativity, and fulfilment.

This cycle continued for many years without myself batting an eye. Until I did. Some psychedelic trips and accidentally breaking my phone had me away for a few days. Then a few weeks. I decided to not get a new phone. For a few years.

At the same time I was preparing to spontaneously move to the Netherlands in the name of adventure. As such I sold the computer, car, everything really.

The mould was then broken. I went without a phone for 4 years. My brain re-wired fundamentally. Things for me are different, but for the world at large? I see a Technicolor omen.

The future of media

Media algorithms are astonishing. Eye tracking is brilliant. Advertisement obfuscation is perfect. Media by both professionals and amateurs is becoming increasingly refined.

We already see people fixated on their videos on the metro, in the shops, at the dinner table.

Except they need to hold it with one of two hands.

One day they won’t need to.

Pairs of standard-looking sunglasses already have terrific mini-OLED displays and phone integration – they’re just not ready for mass-market. Yet.

Once microprocessors, quantum computing, and battery tech reach their breakthroughs – you’ll have your media delivered right in front of your eyes – this time without craning your neck downwards for hours on end or having to look away from the road.

Tech people have been gazing and gawking at Google Glass for about a decade. We all know the potential of Augmented Reality. It’s just a matter of when.

Remember when AirPods first released? The majority thought they were comical. Now it’s very commonplace to have tiny buds capable of isolating the entire outside world from your sound bubble. The tech is phenomenal!

Don’t like the screaming baby? No one does – earbuds makes sense. Don’t like that obscene graffiti? The glasses will cover or replace that in no time. Need turn-by-turn directions when driving? It only makes sense.

It’s not hard to see a future with perfect 8-second clips in your vision, seamlessly served, with careful injection of advertisements to drive buyer habits, information to create your opinions, and subtle placement of political propaganda.

Not just that – those clips wont even made by someone. Currently the tech exists to auto-generate every single aspect of the creative process. Text generation, voice generation, caption generation, 3D model generation, deepfake clones, etc. It just needs a small bit of human oversight to make sure i’s are dotted and T’s are crossed.

People will find out how to leverage this Generative Intelligence, of course to make money. Auto-generated content made by bots for people to consume.

While dark, we haven’t even investigated the grim side of things yet.

Famed future-dystopian show Black Mirror integrates a lot of these concepts astonishingly well. Whether it’s endless indebted servitude where your home is an OLED box with mandatory ads, an augmented popup of your social status, or a fuzzbox filter to block things people you don’t want to see or hear – it’s really easy to see how close we are to these worlds already.

I mean we already pretty much have this as people increasingly care about social clout, Instagram likes, and pay more waking attention to the vibrant displays than the grey world around. Not to mention the psuedo-indebted servitude of paying bills and living paycheque to paycheque. People always look to escape.

The only difference is we’re still at the 2D-phase.

The future of me

I know what I want. I’ve taken years to build towards and it took a half decade just to conceptualise it properly.

I want freedom.

Vague, though this freedom isn’t only financial, physical, mental, and spiritual. It’s technical.

I don’t mean going full Luddite either. I mean surrounded by people not escaping physical reality. Rather, surrounded by people enjoying the regular reality.

You see, you can easily create your own home/bubble where you’re free of TikTube, InstaBook, and use a screen for an hour a day as you work on art projects or watch the sunset, and that’s totally fine.

But that’s it – it’s your bubble.

And if one thing has become exceedingly clear to me over the years, it’s that humans need connection. What good is the bubble if there’s no one to share it with? Those virtual friends were great, but nothing can ever replace the real soul of a person beside me.

Drawing from the experiences of living in 8 different countries I found I want to be around those on a similar wavelength. People whose very consciousness is present in the physical world, not Pandoras little screen.

A shared bubble is what I was looking for – a country or region where people on average have their minds living away from the noise of social media.

I envision my future in an eco-home on a small chunk of land in the hills of a warm, sunny region with people to share the experiences of life with. Thankfully I found my personal solution.

True freedom doesn’t exist, but this way, I’m technically free from the strange world ongoing.

You choose the reality

Things are always going to be weird – they already have been! Just it’s only going to increase more and more as the global web of strangeness spreads.

Boston Dynamics robots are insanely capable. Just embed it with AI, put on some clothes and we’re one step away from Ex-Machina. Drones are affordable, our phones listen to everything, and Google knows everything about us.

Soon enough you’ll be able to ask your phone to make sure the oven isn’t left on – prompting your home security robo-dog to check and move a dial if it is. Just pray security vulnerabilities aren’t in that model.

I forsee a world of infinite AI-content, perfectly tailored to grab your attention, change your opinions, and sell you Pepsi. To assist you with living a smooth life as you head to the job which barely keeps your bills paid. After all, AI knows exactly how much to give to employees.

We’ll see deeper addictions and dependencies on technology, social media, and keeping the mind ‘engaged’. After all, attention and data are the most valuable commodities in the digital landscape.

The Romans are always going to be invading.

If not the Romans, then it’s the Prussians. Or the Catholics. Or Nestlé. Or the Chinese. Or Facebook. Or ByteDance.

There’s nothing you can do about it either. Except go where they’re not.

While it’s naïve to say ‘just move where you want to’, that’s the only real solution. If you live in a modern metropolis one step away from a Black Mirror reality, maybe give three more thoughts to the future around.

Find your own desires and needs. Start basic – ideal climate, preferred geography, ideal atmosphere. Rural, urban, suburban? Tropical or mountainous? Filter out countries and regions based on your selfish interests – it’s very useful!

It took living in 8 different countries before I found my spot.

A small chunk of land with great sunshine, climate to grow any fruit or veg I like, close to the ocean and to plenty of events and people I enjoy. The basics, just even better.

Now I’ve chosen my ideal reality, I hope you can find yours!

If interested, read about how it was Living without a phone for 4 years.

Thanks for reading these ramblings and if you made it this far just let me know some thoughts in the comments! Always keen to see what others have to think! Peace.

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