Progress so Far

I think it is high time for an update on how far we have progressed towards the initial vision of this website, that is towards an epoch-marking fusion of advanced technology and human communication that would make a new internationalism possible at last. The vision was of a society, around the year 2025, that had achieved an enlightened world peace, in which cultures and regions had become more important than countries and advanced technology, though still amazing, had become utterly commonplace. Wrist-watch computers that can project holographic presentations of any knowledge shared by mankind, vehicles that move silently, causing no pollution, shared virtual reality experiences as an entertaining fusion of films, theatre and reality TV are all just over the horizon. We can’t quite envision them clearly as of yet, but suggestive echoes of such a possible future are already reaching us now.

I feel that it may be easier to evaluate the ‘small picture’, my on experience of life on Earth right now, than the ‘big picture’ of life as a whole, as it is so hard to obtain clear and unbiased information, even on a supposedly free internet. From what I can make out, it is a situation of progress interrupted. Whilst a truly millennial culture is encompassing the globe as never before, helped by new sharing and communicative technologies to do so, national identities that will need to greatly soften to facilitate a truly international phase have tended to harden. War and revolution have scoured the near East, the sheer horror of which gripping headlines and news media generally, making it hard to effectively see if this is a process of freeing these essential areas from generations of shackles, or just chaotic turbulence with no real direction. The middle and near East being an essential area of prophecy, it remains to be seen if the much-vaunted ‘Arab Spring’ will bring the rational organisation of such lands that they so sorely need. Viewed faithfully, though, peace, freedom and an authentic integration with the rest of the world can be the only ultimate results of this progressive process, whatever conflicts emerge in the shorter term.

Meanwhile, technology has spread across the world like wildfire and the so-called ‘Web 2’ of personal interaction, the interaction that this site holds to be indicative of true and lasting freedom from centralised and impersonal authority, seems to have taken hold across societies and across national boundaries like never before. Thanks not only to email, but now to social networking sites like Facebook and Mixy, amongst others, instant and shared interaction is possible at any time. The onus of such communication being formalised has been overcome through microblogging sites such as Twitter, which allow for frank and personal exchanges without the delay of formulating an in-depth response. That is, they facilitate nearly direct communication, a true extension of one’s social sphere into virtual space, space that is very quickly being discovered, though is wrongly thought of as being created. Such space has its own boundaries and continents, not only in the technologies facilitating it.

One of the greatest movements of our time and one that will make certain advances feasible, even inevitable, is the rise and spread of visual sharing. Digital cameras (or scanned analogue images, to be complete) and the internet to spread them on allow for the sharing of experiences in a way harder to accomplish with words. A picture in a sense really does contain a thousand words, though of course these are all words to apply to it, but it brings the scene directly to the viewer. As higher bandwidth has become possible, a more visual internet has come too, with ever-increasing resolution, which despite the marketing fluff associated with this, means for a more lifelike presentation and so a more satisfying one. Photos are not the end of this, as high-definition video and beyond makes its appearance, something that previously was only possible with expensive cameras, can now be accomplished with smart-phones, which have become media-creation devices as much as ones to experience the internet on.

The next phase, though, will presumably take many generations of technology to accomplish. It will involve entering the internet, perhaps in the guise of an avatar, to interact personally with other people from around the world, almost as if you were really with them, not only in real-world environments, but in ultra-realistic simulations created by the finest artists. You will scuba^dive in seas filled with imaginary fish, walk in gardens filled with trees that cycle through their seasons whilst you watch, travel together with others virtually, yet with all the smells, sounds and sensations of the places, almost like magic. Almost, as it will be a flowering of technology that facilitates it, not an active imagination alone, something which has restricted such experiences to the few all through history.

Just to give some pointers as to what technologies may help bring this about over the next few years or even decades, we have the move to ever-greater resolutions in video, from HD to full HD, then to the data-intensive 4k and 8k varieties, along with ever-advancing screens on which to view them. This, along with glasses-free 3D, will make for a more lifelike and immersive experience. New generations of camera will capture full 3D representations of things, allowing not just for a visual stereo playback, but truly holographic presentations. Ultra high-bandwidth internet will be able to support various people entering such simulations in a kind of lifelike video conference together. It will indeed be something like the Star Trek Holodeck or ‘virtual reality’, yet without the big drama associated with those presentations. In fact, it will be an everyday thing, like meeting a friend for a coffee after work.It won’t even be radically different in any essential way. But it will be the way society of the future interacts, spending its vastly increased free time and economic resources. It may not really be different, but it will be more enlightened, overcoming the differences that separate people in the most time-tested way of all, through natural, warm and unforced communication.

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When the Lion Lies Down With the Lamb

 6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

(Isaiah 11:6-9)

Will the lion (or wolf, as it actually states) ever lie down with the lamb? That evocative image of a dreamlike impossibility from Isaiah forms the frontispiece of the United Nations entrance, but it would seem to be as far from Earthly realisation as ever. Or is it? It speaks of a time when the weak and strong will be able to dwell together, with the gentle lamb having nothing to fear from the lion. It may not yet be upon us, but several changes happening to society will make this possible at last.

One thing is the rise of a technological equality that previous societies couldn’t even have imagined. That is, through the medium of technology, democratically distributed, there are spaces and forums to which anyone can have access, pretty much regardless of background. Already, millions around the world have access to the internet in some way or another. When the next generation of interactive internet emerges, it will be an even greater part of our lives. It doesn’t mean everyone will be absolutely equal in their worldly status, the flattening affect won’t go that far. Personal development and effort will go a long way to defining people then as now, yet background will have a lot less sway. The society we presently live in is comparatively feudal in the emphasis paid to birthplace and parents. This will be increasingly unsustainable in the future.

The reason why the lamb will be able to lie with the lion is from having nothing to fear anymore from his bite. The lion, seeing clearly the benefits of the trusting and gentle ways of the lamb will likewise be freed from the primitive aggression he once felt towards those weaker than him, in a system so devoted to physical survival. Although self-restraint is currently urged upon the strong, in a world where such strength is seen as one of many attributes and not necessarily the most important one, mutual respect will make such consideration natural.

The words are held to refer both to nations and to individuals. The prophecy states that there will be a ‘healing of nations’ making this possible. This suggests reconciliation and forgiveness, though not necessarily forgetfulness. The memories will be shared as a heritage of primitive times that have long passed, ‘long’ referring to cultural distance and developmental progress, not just Earthly years. They won’t be angrily brought up, as the sense of reconciliation will have made such resentment impossible. The same will be in the personal space. Inner reconciliation will be the theme, not only forgiving in this way those that have wronged us, but more deeply reconciling the ‘strong’ and ‘gentle’ parts of ourselves, so that they healthily co-exist. Whilst much of history has been the story of bullies and their victims, the strong and the weak, a new chapter of humanity will open in which these roles are rendered redundant.

Technological advances will play their part in this, with the brightest designers fully aware of their millennial achievements. The technology will reflect the advances in thought and identity, not bringing such essential progress in itself. A society will emerge finding much more time and pleasure in enlightened learning, yet will appreciate the small features of daily life all the more as well, seeing them as just as much a part of the whole as larger issues.. As our hearts pulse more nearly as one in this peaceful unity, means to share experience with no delay, immediately even, will be fully developed. ‘computers’ will no more be the PCs we use now, though there may be data centers of a sort holding and backing up the great stores of information accumulated, just as there are now. Yet the usual ‘computer’ will be a light, wrist-watch like device capable of holographic projections to produce a whole field of interaction. The somewhat ‘ghostly’ nature of 3D as we now experience it will be far richer and more involving, and in fact will involve projections viewable from any angle, yet subtly different from matter all the same.

Although much of the arts will be digitised to be presented in such a manner, this won’t mean an abandonment of the analogue realm, as in many cases tools that create directly into the digital space will for a long time be far cruder and unexpressive than their analogue equivalents, which themselves evolved over centuries. It will still be easier to digitise a very sensitively produced analogue work than to improve a simplistic digital creation, for example digitising a marble sculpture rather than trying to achieve the same level of depth and feeling in CG. What digital will bring along with the greater convenience are its virtues of easy accessibility and near-infinite reproduction. In fact, in the wake of such great advanced in both the analogue and digital realms, a new field will open up before us like never before, but need even more careful guardianship; the genetic phase, in which life itself is created, modified and attempts are made to improve.

Farewell to Steve Jobs

Today it is almost as if the technological world I follow so closely has come full circle. The man with the vision that practically started it all and certainly helped keep on its self-perfecting course has passed away, leaving a rich legacy of devices that have not only changed the way we interact, but what we expect from that amorphous concept ‘technology’. Whilst for many years there has been an esoteric air around Apple products, which seemed so stylish but could do so little for the uninitiated, they have risen to prominence by either adopting common standards or creating them anew. For me, Apple’s greatest breakthrough was the iPod- as it brought their love of simplified interfaces and artistic design to ‘the masses’, saving them financially and giving them the very platform that expanded into the iPhone and iPads. There are many dreamers, inventors and daydreamers, but it takes a true poet to bring all these concepts together and make a household name out of them. Steve Jobs was that man.

Just think that only ten years ago, the first iPod emerged. Being expensive, I of course bought into the competition, in this case Creative’s Zen, but if it hadn’t been for Jobs, the entire idea wouldn’t have come to life. Now, there were digital music players, but they were clunky and undesirable by comparison, just as the early smart-phones or tablet computers failed to catch on. I personally love Apple for all they have achieved, but as with any company, there are things to resent as well as love (in fact there was the time they dissed Jobs, for one), so I’ll leave that aside for now, but the fact that they could become the world’s number one tech company under Jobs says a lot about him. Jobs embodied the technological boom we are living through, the great liberal ideas and progressive grasp of the realities of our world and through this made it possible to literally have some of the greatest technologies man can make in the palm of our hands.

Steve is known as an expert in the fields of design, technology and business leadership, but to my mind the depths of his inspiration lie in something deeper. In fact, it is all an expression of his genius, his tapping into something far greater than himself, to share it with the world as a whole. Apple, devices, presentations are all just ‘devices’ or ‘apps’ in them-self. The vision behind them comes from his appreciation that there is more to this life than we casually see. In short, Steve must be remembered as a master- a master who like other masters spent time travelling in India and immersing himself in the great mysteries of the East, emerging from this in his own particular way adapted for his own particular generation. In our time and for our purposes it was the birth of personal communication devices to help create an international, networked culture in which there would be a measure of digital equality such as the world has never experienced in other fields- a natural and instantaneous technology that would be more fun to use than cumbersome. To my mind, to this point, it has culminated in the ever-evolving iPad. Sure, there will be similar devices by others, even better ones in certain respects. But they will be iPads more than ‘tablets’ if they are to succeed. They will be personal, cosy, usable and attractive . For Jobs wasn’t dreaming of consumer devices. He was dreaming of devices to help the average consumer, even to do things they had never thought of doing before. It was an expression of great wisdom and compassion, of a dedication far beyond the norm.

For this, he will be timeless and is, from the Perfect Futures perspective, undoubtedly continuing his existence on other spheres as we speak, his work here done to perfection. Just think of the success, not, I may add the success in the face of competition, as in many ways he helped to create the very field in which the competition took place! People have personal computers, laptops, iPods, smart phones, iPads. In many of these areas, right now, the most attractive options to many people are in Apple’s stable, as evinced by sales. Even when seemingly cheaper options exist. Now, in the world of the PC this is more complex, as I really can’t say that Apple’s options are always the best value and in the world of the smartphone there are already a lot of other attractive options. but Apple, through Jobs, managed to be number one. That’s saying something, that’s saying a lot. Not so much about Steve Jobs himself, but more about whatever it is he tapped into, the great universal energy, or the spirit of liberal progress in humanity. I’m not sure exactly. But we shouldn’t turn this occasion into ego-worship of a man who had clearly to a great extent left his personal ego behind. We should celebrate the wonder of creation and our incredible capacity to co-create within it. We are no longer cavemen and to a great extent, this is thanks to what Steve Jobs showed us we can do. Any of us… if we just put our mind to it.

RIP, Steve Jobs, though I am sure you are, or will be, creating ever greater things, wherever you find yourself. If anyone helped to bring about a Perfect Future in their lifetime, it was you.

Straight, No Chaser.

A Traditional Photography Blog - dehk © 2016

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