Gauge function is the highest order of cognition in a total field.
The level of technological development in any given society is the primary measurement of its state of intellectual amplitude. The result of technological advancement is axiomatically the production of free time, that is, time available to an expanding array of choices rather than to an expanding array of necessities. Freed from necessity, a society can invent forward, project a wide field of ideals determined by curiosity and exploration rather than inventing backwards within a narrow field determined by irritants. Up to now, invention has concerned itself with the creation of objects in space. In a free-time society, invention will emphasize organizational schemata for information throughput. The impetus will be to design frames of reference unfettered by ideology. Human culture will then consist of the interplay between various interpretive frameworks developed by their adherents in a spirit of problem solving.
Technology is inherently democratizing. The popularization of technophobia will be increasingly perceived to be against the best interests of humanity. In dense information fields fear is dissipated when full attention can be applied to success in problem solving. Technology supplies the tools for amplifying intelligence to every citizen. The economics of mass production dissolves hierarchies of privilege. Technology is the sharing of created wealth, not the concentration of exploited wealth. Technology requires an educated work force in the production end. Under feudalism, divisions of labor were decided upon by tradition, birthright, wealth, privilege, etc., and resulted in caste system boundaries that tended to freeze the evolution of intelligence, hence the tendency of all pre-capitalist societies to collapse. Chattle control of technology is now an historic futility. The genie is out of the bottle. Human knowledge has passed the threshold where it may now self-amplify at a geometrically accelerating rate rather than at the pre-electronic, pre-TV linear rate.
Imaging technology is the present organizing principle of social forms for two reasons: (a) information density – “a picture is worth a thousand words” really means that a picture oriented society has more accuracy of detail about its phase states. It can better predict the outcome of its policy decisions. This makes for stable social evolution. (b) image plasticity – a wider variety of imaginary constructs can be brought the 3-D world and tested for reality. Individual imaging prototyping, ie fantasizing, becomes less bound to subjective personality loops and better able to engage problem-solving efficiencies within the measurable realm of the externally perceived universals. It is time to place computational phenomena into the visual cortex of the brain. Over half the brain’s neurons are used to process and understand visual input. Its visual input data channel has a bandwidth estimated to be about 2 gigabits per second.
Imaging screen plasticity allows for alternative functions of the same instrument. With the addition of touch screen, data glove or other “hot screen” technology, it can multi-function as memory, gauge display, media interface, and process controller. This is a powerful form of throughput amplification. Any tool that can lessen boundary pile-up and discontinuities between phases or objects is more efficient. A carpenter’s hammer can either drive or pull nails without retooling. The human mind is very good at alternating or simultaneous functions. It can walk and chew gum; it can both perceive and conceive. The imaging screen tool best reflects our capacities to both view and visualize and will probably be the first component of an artificial intelligence array that exceeds the primary limiting factor of human individual sentience – our built-in focus outward from a binocular being point singularity. An A.I. setup with multi-points of view, many eyed, will accelerate the next revolution in applied knowledge.
Screens will be used to modulate other screens. Within a large bank of info feedback screens, any shift in paradigms introduced by the data or operator will cause a kaleidoscopic cascade of phase and intensity determinants to spread out across the screen like a living mosaic. Observations of changes in the rates as well as the shapes of patterns will awaken dormant potentials, such as our visual sense of acceleration pattern. Consequently, many of our biological sensoria will receive an impetus to make themselves available to a human-made environment of mental evolution. Interacting with images will become direct and immediate: in resonate proximity to internal visual imagining. This is an important development because it couples process of imagination to the real world where their function-ability is made apparent. By visually representing and revealing the interconnectivity of events within a phase and, by extension, of all phases within our universe, technology becomes the most humanitarian of all human endeavors.
Multi-screen image display arrays are key to solving the problem of information overload. There is not too much information, there is too little cognitive ability to handle it. The synthetic capabilities of the visual cortex (mass-free mental imaging, thought pictures) coupled to the synthetic potential of our matter-composed universe (molecular Lego kit) provides us with a very large number of invention activated problem solving avenues. Actually we are over-engineered for survival. Meeting the necessities of biological survival is a piece of cake, an amoeba can do it. But systems propelled by discomfort are limited in that they focus backwards upon point-causal determinants (see #2). These systems are automatic not autonomous. Systems attracted by pleasure are area-focused rather than point-focused. They exercise forward acting (future oriented) area causal apperception over a range of possibilities. The implication of choice requires a modeling system which allows the comparative consideration of options in an autonomous manner. This modeling system should borrow as much as it can from the dimension of simultaneity in order to hold several or many choices up against each other for comparison. For this reason it is ideally multi-screen with zoom in / out potential at all foci and peripherally inclusive as well.
Various studies on the nature and effect of television upon culture have been made, their results and attendant opinions published. None, however, have taken into account a hitherto unknown potential of the video medium, that of multi-screen viewing. When television is discussed it is always within the parameter of a single screen, much like cinema. Marshal Mcluhan first hypothesized an important characteristic of technological advance – the tendency for the previous technology to dictate the form its subsequent evolution. For example, the first automobiles placed the engine in front, where the horses went. They called it the horseless carriage. This is a shock reducing social mechanism which serves to validate the past in its form while incorporating a new utility. So it is with television. We have a medium imprisoned within the form of its predecessor, cinema / theater. It has been captive to cinema’s physical form up to this point (ie a single screen) and theater content (the presentation of dramatic emotional suspense). Television is ideally suited to multi-screen arrays. Furthermore, being electronic and portable, its content is ideally suited to instantaneous update and real time look-in on relevant events. The ability for the viewer to switch through channels, to view within the autonomous framework of the domicile environment and to utilize the autonomous potentials of VCR and camcorder is lessening the power of “theatrics” in political and economic life – the popular anti-charisma of General Schwartzkopf is instructive.
Multi-screen arrays imply more than one point of view which is the basis for dimensionality. We perceive time from the standpoint of a succession of temporal points of view. We perceive space from a binocular point of view, the conceptual fusion of which gives us 3-D. Multiple points of view is a very powerful attribute of full awareness and, moreover, is the primary means by which awareness amplifies itself. Putting oneself in the other person’s shoes, for example, is a key to successful communication and the generation of understanding. Having the flexibility to adopt many points of view during the analysis of a situation is the creative way to avoid traps in cognition. Multi-screen arrays are tailor made for collaborative problem solving via teleconference hookups. We can map out facets of a situation like a cubist painting and come upon a more complete picture. Completing our picture of the universe is the name of the game.
Problem solving is very simple given enough information. The facts usually sort themselves out into necessity fields and mental effort is potentially freed up to pursue more and more pleasure of creativity. This is art. We are going to have to learn how to operate with freedom of choice within an incredibly dense global information matrix. The densest personal info matrix is the visual one. The human retina is capable of differentiating about 2 million color hues and intensities and probably a larger number of shapes, spatial attitudes, distances and motions. We mainly use only a small portion of the visual field at any one time, a pencil thin cone of maximum attention, and we see as we read, in a scanning manner. This leaves the peripheral visual field almost unused, merely a cue-up function; like hearing – an attention director. Expansion of peripheral apperception is desirable because it allows a wider field of view for the simultaneous comparative gauging of visual info which will, in turn, amplify that same potential within the memory and projective areas of the mind. In short, we can make parallel processing abilities accessible to consciousness. One can get a taste of this ability by setting two TV sets side by side, tuning in two different stations with audio up on both and concentrating on getting the gist of both programs simultaneously. Within ten minutes you should be catching on.
High definition TV (HDTV) should be perceived by the media aware public as more than an embellishment upon the world of entertainment. 1,120 scan line resolution will transform our perceptual field and its resultant social appetites much as photo-journalism via Life and Look magazines helped to transform America from agrarianism to industrialism. HDTV viewed upon a living room TV set will make such superficial genre as game shows, soap operas, sitcoms and allied exercises in inanity naked to our faculties of analysis and skepticism. Nature does not represent itself to us in low definition. We do that. The lower the definition, the more the optical phenomena take on the properties of undifferentiated peripheral visual field object, to cue-up our attention to more detailed, information dense appraisal. Low definition communication leaves us in a state of mystery to one degree or another, which is not a fulfilling process. HDTV plays directly to the central retina, where the blanks get filled in. If the TV program content is a mismatch with the detailed configurative capability of the retina, the viewer will change channels to program content which does that capability justice. With HDTV, video as a single-screen artifact reaches its maximum point of exploitation. It is suitable for nothing less than a documentary approach at all times. Low definition sectarian ideology is incapable of instantaneous update and will be perceived as a retrograde, obstructing methodology of patterning. The viewer will be freed from any frame of reference which locks interpretation into pre-orchestrated categories. Fields of knowledge will become wide angle, making apparent the interconnectivity of event flux and causality. Equirement will supplant style. The demand for precision in all bio-necessity aspects of life will dictate a form-follows-function structuralist aesthetic.
The compact handicam allows us to look in on areas of human discovery as they occur without the mitigation of commentary or editing or political top spin. exploration, laboratory and field research, global conferences, classroom lectures, etc. could be tuned in to for personal enjoyment and university credit. The key is “real-time”. CSPAN is the most important network currently in existence. Emergency situations already benefit to a degree from this technology, particularly in the medical field where difficult procedures are accessible to world wide expertise while in progress. The recent events in China were covered in large measure by students with smuggled handicams. We are witness to events as they unfold. abuses of police or government procedures captured by a palm-corder, cannot be denied without the peril of full discovery and blown cabals. Video testimony and video documents are being recognized as legally true. The drama is reality itself.
McLuhan’s prediction of the electronic global village is no joke. We are beginning to see into the lives of our global neighbors on an intimate scale, independent from the force feeding of stereotypes via ideological and governmental channels. The most important network program to date is America’s Funniest Home Videos. The most important broadcast area of the world was Eastern Europe. Real life is far more transformative and entertaining than entertainment, it touches us more deeply, and bonds us together at the level of reality. Truth is manifold viewpoint, manifold verification.
We no longer have the option to select whether or not we perceive an event, but only where to place it within our frame of reference, what importance to give it. In an era of remote telecast, nothing remains remote, everything is right in front of our face. Your hand-held channel selector is a marvelous anti-gravity device. You don‘t have to get up to change the channel, consequently you don’t tend to get trapped inside mass inertia systems. The tendency, then, is to not pattern your mental life after mass / inertia systems. The remote channel selector is democracy’s most powerful weapon. Truth is never boring.
The digitizing of media via digital signal processing is an exciting prospect from the standpoint that this will help in standardizing electronic communication languages. The more we appreciate that phenomena can be subdivided into smaller and smaller constituent particles, the more we perceive those particles responding to field interactions. This is how we can get to the ideal from the real. Image and recording quality will no longer be a function of equipment cost. There will be absolutely no point to operating giant media entertainment networks. With fiber optics and degeneration-proof image and sound recording, every human is a news wire service, like ham radio operators during a local emergency. Fiber optics already carry in-house video teleconferencing capability within many corporate office complexes. When the band width problem is solved, either by fiber optics or a rediscovery of Tesla standing wave technology, the wires will be humming with so much communication flux that new visual shorthand languages will spring up out of necessity. That will be interesting.
Up to now, what we call communication is really sound wave communication carried out in a relatively dense atmosphere at very slow speeds within a linear sequential framework. Light travels 100,000 times faster than sound. This is the speed of vision. The visual field is also simultaneous. You can recognize many objects at a single glance. The advantages of incorporating a visual language into everyday affairs is readily apparent. The nature of that language is totally wide open. It could be any mix of graphic symbol, color cues, positional cues, motion cues, 3-D display, audio intermix, you name it.
Nikola Tesla, in his later years, claimed to have invented a process whereby mental images could be transferred to an imaging screen. His absolute mastery over the theory and application of EMF is a matter of historic fact. We use his AC current, polyphase motors, radio, transformers, etc. on a daily basis. The military has taken the threat of Soviet deployment of Tesla-based EMF weapons very seriously; it was the impulse to develop the SDI program. We should make the attempt to understand EMF phenomena as Tesla did; the vacuum being no vacuum at all, rather a seething sea of electrostatic potential, a stressed vacuum.
The leading edge of media research is currently to be found in the field of aircraft cockpit instrumentation display. Whenever you have two systems in relative motion, the requirements for rapid information updating rise exponentially as a function of the increase in velocity. Necessity dictates accuracy, ie, a high volume of data, a dense data flux. These lessons can be applied to everyday life where the velocity and instability factors are less than in flight systems, but the simultaneity factors are greater. Information throughput density is the constant in either case. In education, students could fly themselves through a knowledge landscape at their own learning velocity. Information density is conceptually akin to object velocity. The more of it that pours through your visual perceptual field, the faster you are going, even though you may be physically at rest. This is why “couch potatoes” are actually rocket sled pilots traveling at warp speed.
What we presently enjoy as technological progress has been, up to this point, essentially a spin-off from military R & D. National destiny has heretofore required the motive of threat to unify and drive science. With the easing of cold war tensions, technology can be harnessed more directly to global human needs, but the motive of discovery must be powerful enough to supplant the motive of threat. Space exploration is vital as a replacement ‘science driver’ because only in that realm is the crucial factor of power vs. weight, ie, miniaturization, the primary factor.
“Television has served as an internal communications system. Lawmakers can be working in their offices and keep one eye on the television screen to check the progress of debate on the house or senate floor” (story in the San Francisco Chronicle April 4, 1989). Government officials must absolutely be elected and appointed on a basis of technological literacy first and foremost. Even that won’t stop the capitol buildings from becoming ceremonial halls and museums.
Tele-synthetic reality – virtual space imaging and allied tactile-referent systems – may prove to be a very big let down in any practical sense. It will intrinsically apply most easily to remote control of robotics, and a simulation trainer for certain kinds of athletics. Its over magnification of the subjective will tend to move it into the area of expensive escapist entertainment and even porn. However, certain of its spin-off developments are showing potential. Two forms of goggle-type display technology have recently been made available which will have consequences beyond their immediate markets. The first goggle display places heads up data overlayed upon the normal visual panorama. The prototypes do not have head movement tracking and directional capabilities, but can superimpose any word or symbol code upon the real world. No reason why one couldn’t read the paper while driving the car, for example; simply a matter of depth of field awareness. The other goggle technology projects any video signal directly in front of the eyes, but blanks out real world image. This British invention is designed as a substitute for regular television viewing with stereo earphones and goggle display in an integral unit. The remarkable potential in these videophonic goggles is that they will effectively cause the reintegration of the imaginative processes of cognition away from the subjective and towards the objective, real world. Such close-up projection will, in fact, substitute external objective content and relations for internal subjective imagination. Daydreaming will have a powerful impetus to relate directly to reality, rather than being a form of personal escapism. Documentary visual uptake will immerse the viewer within the docu-world and further accelerate the citizen’s potential to participate in world affairs beyond the mere possession of opinion.
In the recent discussions about the most strategic of our nation’s industries, electronic design automation (EDA) has received undeserved neglect. EDA is nothing less than the computers ability to design itself into a more efficient form – it is the computer design of computer components, and is an absolutely crucial technology. The amazing fertility of electronic technology is constantly shrinking the “shelf life” of new products, now down to under a year. Rapid obsolescence has brought EDA into its own as a method for accelerating the design phase of new products through prototype testing. The implications of EDA, however, are far deeper. EDA is laying the practical foundations for artificial intelligence capabilities; in particular, the ability of a piece of hardware or program to educate itself about a task and then improve its performance on that.
Computer aided design, animation and engineering will integrate within the entertainment industry and will eventually replace sets, actors, locations, cameras: everything, in fact, that we call “Hollywood.” Photorealistic animation will burst out of its “special effects” containment to take over the entire production. Feature-length entertainment will be produced start to finish by a handful of men and women in an editing suite at a hundredth the cost. Photorealistic animation will be as detailed as modern cinematography with the advantage of absolute creative freedom. The division between “amateur” and “professional”, “B” grade and studio, “artistic” and “kitsch” will be dissolved by the power of the animation hardware and programs themselves.
Given proper in / out and control interface, any electronic circuitry can be made to function in the form of a software program. Any digitizable signal can be softwared through a computer to make the computer function in any way, as audio, video or radio gear, electronic testing and diagnostic gear, electronic gauge and monitoring gear.
More international bodies will convene to work out interface standards for information technology than will meet to promote world peace, and will be more successful at both tasks.
The economics of surplus, first-generation obsolete gear will remove overheated overhead costs from still viable technologies and promote vigorous experimentation and “re-prototyping” into new and unusual functions. This area should not be overlooked for its potential to provide breakthrough “off the shelf’ type applications and conceptual flanking movements, particularly in the area of parallel processing which may prove to be effectively applied in the absence of fast processor speeds.
Up to this point most futurist projections have been hampered by either a simple minded “gee whiz” approach or an overly cautious approach philosophically opposed to technology per se. In absolutely no example of popularized futurology have authors exhibited an understanding of the process of mind that results in efficient applied human invention. This outlook robs us of a great sense of security about the intelligence of our forebears well as a sense of confidence in our ability to educate ourselves out of any problem that these three dimensions of existence present, eventually even that of mortality. Without a cultural optimism based on the real and tangible and beneficial accomplishments of the best minds of our kind, we hobble and retard human progress to a great cost of unnecessary pain. It is a shame that the names and stories of the great inventors are not an universal part of our folk culture and that the power of their method is kept from us.
“Ninety-nine percent of humanity does not know that we have the option to ‘make it’ on the planet and in the universe. We do. It can only be accomplished, however, through a design science initiative and technological revolution” – R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path 1981.
(from OVO 12 SCIENCE November 1991)