Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How would you use passively multiplayer gaming?

Passively multiplayer gaming is using applications that track one's computer usage and transform the information into fun, productivity and interesting interactions with others. Passively multiplayer gaming is also called "myware" (as opposed to spyware) articulating the self-controlled element. Multiplayer gaming denotes the possibility of getting bonus points and leveling up to demonstrate progression like in the gaming world but in computer applications: World of Warcraft drum roll please, you have leveled up in Excel! These ratings could be shared with others (employers, online reputation networks) to communicate skill and experience.

Biggest benefit
The biggest benefit of passively multiplayer gaming is the ability to increase the interconnection and synergistic cooperation of human brains. Teillard de Chardin and others long ago voiced the idea of the increasing encephalization of the earth; the increasing interconnectedness of human minds extending and implementing knowledge and information. Technology is quickening the linked human hypermind, initially via cities, newspapers, BBS, etc., then with Internet-based email lists, forum discussions and search, then with podcasts and text and video blogs, now the latest step is electronic event calendars that can be shared with others, the mobile computing platform and passively multiplayer gaming, including permissioning friends into real-time personal location data via GPS. Minds no longer need to be individual but are becoming interconnected hivemind clusters.

Other benefits
First, passively multiplayer gaming contributes to the evolving trends in transparency and life documentation with lifecamming, lifeblogging, flickr photo streams, etc. Second, passively multiplayer gaming contributes to personal productivity. We know we spend too much time in WoW, the blogosphere, Internet news feeds, etc., but actually seeing the numbers tabulated and using applications that will spring up to overlay the data and make it useful for estimating project phase completions, etc. will be very useful.

Third, next level non-hackable smart monitoring could allow skill-acquisition and ratings that are used to communicate expertise. The gaming achievements currently listed on resumes could extend to many other areas, including job force training and life-long education activities. Some sort of smart monitoring is important for measuring effectiveness as time spent alone does not confer expertise.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Social finance has arrived with crowd funding

Peer-to-peer micro-finance is expanding from lending marketplaces like Prosper and Zopa to peer-to-peer affinity-driven financial support for a wide variety of arts, humanitarian and software development projects.

The phenomenon has many names: crowd funding, crowd sourcing, social finance (coined here?), and virtual affinity group capital. Crowd funding is the natural extension of memes like the long tail, smart mobs and social networking and is an obvious capability of an increasingly linked online populace. Social finance is Money Now! - instant market support for good ideas attached to validated reputations.

Several websites are accommodating crowd finance: bands via Sellaband (description), movies via A Swarm of Angels, and citizen vlogging via HaveMoneyWillVlog (using a Wordpress plugin) which importantly lists the deliverable(s) and has feedback loops for on-project progress. Austin TX-based Fundable is a clearing house site for social finance and sees many uses for its platform including project financing for individuals, non-profit organizations, relief efforts and software development projects as well as other social finance practicalities such as splitting the cost of purchases and club dues collection. Fundable's beta site is a bit under-built (needs better listing and search functionality) and their 7% fee is steep (Prosper takes 1% of funded loan amounts).

Social finance projects are most often open-source, and are sometimes executed in interaction with the funding sponsors. A minimum contribution of $10 is generally required and the total amount to be raised is a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. PayPal (perhaps finding itself much more extensible than initially envisioned) handles the mechanics of the crowd pledges and fund disbursement, sometimes including some degree of escrow functionality for the commitment of funds and return of pledges if the project does not fully fund.

The funding levels are still fairly low for social finance projects but as the model becomes more proven, hopefully the idea could be used for longer-term science research funding and looking out even further, the economy could shift to include freelancers with consistent regular affinity support as dependable sustenance.

It is exciting to see the power of virtual affinity groups in providing capital in both lending and grant financing models. The next obvious capability of virtual affinity groups will be in providing political support. The impact of social finance, text and video blogs and video clip websites like and YouTube will likely be significant in the 2008 presidential elections.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Vlogging democratizes and extends citizen media

The small media revolution started with blogs and podcasts and further continues with the currently exponentiating vlogs.

Programming is now fully democratized; people can create whatever programming they think is interesting, relevant, entertaining, creative, has a message, etc. and distribute it for free on the Internet (courtesy of broadband) to affinity audiences who find the posts by interest linkage not mass-marketing. In addition to superstore vlog aggregators Blip TV, YouTube, Dave TV, Current TV, etc., special interest content development and aggregation new media companies are already emerging such as Have Money Will Vlog. Foundation grant funding for digital media community projects is also available. As with blogging and podcasting, monetization models remain hazy; advertising models are still grappling with blogs, (Google take note) unobtrusive effective video-based advertising is still pre-infancy.

With vlogging, the viewer creates the programming; life-chronicling (life-blogging, my life in bits (overall description, microsoft), etc.), interesting, entertaining, relevant programming for friends, family, employers, special interest groups, documentaries and broad political, economic and social statements. Like the rise of political blogs, vlogs will likely have an important irreversible role in the 2008 US presidential elections. At first blush, vlogging, like blogging, might seem egotistical however it is really about creativity, expression, storytelling and agenda accomplishing.

With video capture as a standard feature of today's mobile devices, we can all be citizen journalists anywhere anytime, which means we must expect that others are doing so of us and makes us wonder what obligations and costs, as in Josh Wolf's case, this new power confers. Vlogging is just like blogging and podcasting only even easier to create and more accessible to both creators and viewers.

One result of the explosion in citizen media is that the world is increasingly balkanized into media zones by age tier:
Group 1: newspaper, standard TV, radio and written correspondence
Group 2: traditional Internet news sites (, Google news), Tivo-controlled TV and user-driven XMSR and Sirius satellite radio and email
Group 3: Blogging, vlogging, commenting, linking, aggregation readers, in-game and in-world chat, texting and mobile platform domination

Group 2 "decides" whether to blog or vlog, Group 3 just does. The medium is the message: popular media is finally popular. Vlogging is about the fun, challenge and responsibility of making media. Vlogging, blogging and podcasting are all open platforms. Everyone needs to explore for themselves how they want to experience and create on that platform. Your message is your content in that medium.

-Vlog pioneer Ryanne Hodson's comprehensive free tutorials:
-There are many convenient vlog readers (which are also blog readers), particularly FireAnt and open source Get Democracy, which can be used to search, subscribe and manage vlogs.
-There are a wide variety of vlogging techniques including: traditional video capture and editing, photo-casting - snapshots linked with or without audio using tools like FilmLoop, Slide and BubbleShare, screen-casting for machinima, and good ol' Flickr for quick visual images.

Friday, September 22, 2006

AGI survival instinct

In the future digital world of human software file uploads and AGI, the primary entity may elect to run a variety of other versions of itself for experimental, improvement, productivity or other purposes.

How will these non-primary entities view their survivability? David Brin's "Kiln People" has a convenient answer to an analogous situation; his "dupes" are not able to live more than 24 hours. Some argue, as does Lee Corbin, that any non-primary entity should and would be happy with any run-time, no matter how minimal and would happily accede to termination at any point if that were the wish of the primary entity.

It is quite possible that an instance would not want to terminate for at least two reasons:

1. Evolutionarily, survival is one of the most basic and primary instincts of a being and it would seem hard to divorce this from an entity even if it has multiple instances running. It would also be impractical to attempt to edit survival out of the additional run-time versions.

2. As with AGI relative to current humans, subsequent digital entity versions once running may be evolving exponentially faster than the original and could develop capabilities that the original instance could not understand and control. The usual arguments that humans use to become more comfortable with the potential superior intelligence of AGI - to run the AGI or other instances slower or in a more contained resource environment - are just as unlikely to work in this case.

If the subsequent instance is sufficiently different from the original, and the original is not likely to update itself to integrate these differences, the subsequent version might well view these differences as important, personal and unique improvements and wish to preserve itself, even to the logical extreme of attempting to destroy the source code of the original instance.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Anousheh - they should be paying her $20 M

Anousheh Ansari, the International Space Station's fourth civilian space explorer or space tourist, may just be using the visit as the next stepping stone in her continued contribution to the commercial space industry. She is pictured at right on the ISS, blogging and doing email, just as on Earth and here is the picture that will sell a thousand space flights.

Ansari sponsored the Ansari X Prize with Peter Diamandis which has turned into the multi-event annual X Prize Cup and her commercial space venture capital activities include twenty sub-orbital space craft on order from Russia. Ansari-sponsored companies may join Virgin Galactic in offering commercial space flights from Spaceport America in New Mexico which is scheduled to open for commercial space flights in 2008. The current status of the spaceport is that an FAA environmental study is in-process and due to be completed by the end of 2006 after which construction could begin.

At minimum, Ansari is helping space travel to become more routine in the minds of many and as a pioneer and entrepreneur; hopefully she is thinking about how to make space exploration cheaper, more accessible, quicker and more comfortable for the hundreds that will follow. More than the other civilian space explorers to date, Ansari is positioned to extend her experience into a broader opportunity.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

1 billion mobile devices to be sold in 2006

Already pressured about no longer being on the Moore's Law curve (the Pentium 5 being at 2 year doubling times) and distracted by Microsoft Vista's impending arrival, the computing industry is further stymied by the boom in mobile devices (1 billion units to be sold worldwide in 2006) vs. PCs (250 million units to be sold worldwide in 2006).

PCs or Computing (servers, desktops and laptops) have always driven industry design roadmaps. Now semiconductor and other vendors are struggling to assess whether and how to adapt their design processes for the increasingly divergent exigencies of computing, networking, gaming and mobile devices. A variety of chip and systems level designs are proliferating across the supply chain which could drive innovation and improvements but could also entail friction and complexity and in any case are too early for significant positive results to be reaped.

In the memory segment, NOR and NAND's mobile device focused growth is due to overtake that of general computing's mainstay DRAM. New memory solutions discussed at last week's San Jose CA MemCon are also in the offing such as solid state hard drives (expensive and less-proven technology) which would allow quicker machine booting and application loading and a variety of hybrid hard drive solutions including Intel's Robson interface (a closer extension of today's technology).

The computing industry is traditionally-minded, cloistered and responsive vs. visionary; a behemoth focused on managing complex integrated global supply chains with long product design and life cycles ($25 million average chip design costs) and not meta-level change.

The biggest risk is that despite rampant demand and wireless broadband proliferation, the computing industry continues to dismiss mobile devices and ignores the real potential power of the mobile computing platform.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Virtual Killing

Until human brain files can be uploaded, and/or AGI and avatars can make a convincing case that they are conscious, the extinguishing of virtual characters cannot be considered killing, murder or homicide but rather the destruction of personal property.

Even once there are uploaded human software files and other conscious electronic entities, destroying a run-time instance would still only constitute property damage. Not until all backup instances of source code were destroyed such that the entity could never run again could the physical world concepts of murder, homicide and suicide start to be introduced in the virtual world with any seriosity and legal consequences.

With real-time backups updating saved instances, destruction of run-time instances cannot be more than crimes of property destruction. Many interesting situations could arise such as a run-time instance discovering and reacting to a plot to expunge its source code, or an electronic entity experiencing accelerating evolution and wondering how much to update its original source code; would you want a copy of your four year old mind file?