Sunday, February 25, 2007

Is managed experience still real?

Would a simulated experience feel as real if one knew it was a simulated experience? Would part of someone hold back from truly experiencing the situation by knowing it was not fully "real"? Will the simulated experiences of uploaded human consciousnesses be real enough to replace those that we currently experience in the physical world?

For example, could a digital human feel the same sentiments of community, togetherness, nationalism, belongingness, etc. from a simulated digital gathering of community members that ve could in the current physical world picnic, political rally, concert, soccer game, etc.? Would large group simulations be any different than 1:1 simulations?

It might be the conventional wisdom at first, that knowing something is a simulation, one would not fully give oneself to the experience, but examples of other simulation-type experiences - which are not at all as immersive as the ones coming - indicate that in fact people do completely give themselves to the simulation, e.g.; reading a book, playing video or alternate reality games, and may even have trouble reimmersing in the real world, e.g.; the Stanford prison experiment.

In fact, simulated experiences will probably feel even more real and have the possibility of being managed with settings just like other current digital experiences; one could dial up or down the intensity or other parameters as preferred, some people may want more charge, more light, more sound, different sound, more pleasure receptors firing, more intellectual wonder, more fascination, others might want less.

The amount of self-awareness that can come from altering and fine-tuning one's experience of experience could facilitate a new era of interaction amongst intelligences since much of current interaction and communication involves personal constraints (e.g.; ego, acknowledgement, acceptance needs etc.).

Experience management is not new, right now meat humans indirectly manage their experience using drugs, alcohol, caffeine, exercise, TV, conversation, etc. to enhance or dull pleasant or unpleasant experiences, what would it be like to move the intensity bar up or down pre-experience? Or have several self sims running with different parameter mixes to capture the event in just the right way since the most pleasant and unpleasant events are often not pre-determined.

Is managed experience still real? Shouldn't the individual have the freedom to choose?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Prosper P2P Finance Update

A year after launching, Prosper, the eBay of loans, has seen more than $27 million in fundings at its P2P finance site. The firm is celebrating with a user conference confab modeled after eBay Live - Prosper Days - next week in San Francisco. The event is sold out but interested parties can attend the pre-conference cocktail on Sunday evening.

As of February 1, 2007, $27 million was extended in 5,427 loans at an average loan size of $5,000. The average loan size has declined from $6,000 as of November 1, 2006 when $20 million had been extended in 3,372 loans. The mix of loans across credit tiers is generally the same, with C, D, E, HR (high risk) and NC (no credit) categories garnering more listings and fundings than AA, A and B tiers but all tiers are growing.

Continuing to answer the question "Does P2P microcredit work?" the chart below shows how Prosper loans have been performing. The pink and turquoise lines represent Prosper defaults, loans 3+ months late, as of November 1, 2006 and February 1, 2007. Prosper defaults are still stabilizing into a consistent level but have remained lower than Experian defaults, strangely in all but the top credit tiers. One year into the P2P lending business is too early to conclusively determine that P2P lending is lower risk than traditional unsecured lending but the initial signs are good. Low defaults in addition to the favorable interest rates available on the site should entice more investors to lend capital on the Prosper platform.

Another important question is “Does group lending work?” that is, does the social pressure of being a group member increase the likelihood of repayment? Prosper claims that being a group member aids funding and improves repayment but has implemented their group program more like a multi-level marketing program than a true Grameen-style borrower peer group program. The chart below depicts the performance of Prosper group member loans vs. all loans and shows that in the lower credit tiers, C, D, E and HR, the main areas of Prosper borrowing, group loans perform worse than non-group loans.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

BarCampUSA 2007 - Webstock – the summer of LØVE

Tickets ($50 for all 4 days) for BarCampUSA's August 23-26 Woodstock for Techies at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds near Madison, WI go on sale this Wednesday.

BarCamp only just began in 2005 in response to Tim O'Reilly's annual A-list techies only Foo Camp in Sebastopol, CA when others decided to have their own participation-friendly conference and started a revolution. The concept quickly eclipsed its beginning and exploded into a global network of unconferences to support the demand for technophiles everywhere to learn, share, collaborate, teach and participate.

Though still in the early stages, BarCampUSA 2007 organizers are planning for 5,000 attendees. The event has the potential to be a real Webstock for the national psyche by more fully capturing the hearts and minds of a generation and the general public into a movement, especially if policy sessions around Net Neutrality and other issues get organized. This generation of catalyzers is technophiles who have already begun to redefine the world as it is currently known.

Geekdom has become cool, because of the instant success and celebrity of numerous wonderpreneurs but more deeply due to the philosophic resonance of innovation, improvement and life enablement. Being a geek is being capable, tech savvy with the multitude of technologies, gadgets, and websites that permeate contemporary culture. Everyone wants to be innovating, commenting, creating, helping and just being part of it.

Regarding BarCamp2007, it might be good to wait and see what kind of connectivity and power is going to be provided. It would not be a bad idea to turn up a MAE-WISC Internet Exchange Point to accommodate the massive flood of text, photo and video traffic bits, and oh, can I eBay my Foo Camp ticket?

Technology ... the reality of the future

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Immobile Mobile Platform

Class I Innovation
The common theme of recently Tier-A venture-backed mobile companies Flurry, SoonR and Dash, and social networking platform ccube is that they are not really mobile. The main work occurs at the stationary platform which is oh, by the way downloaded to a mobile device and in some cases best used with a [power-consuming] preferably always-on tether to the stationary platform.

Certainly there is use for these services for email and news via text/SMS plans for mainstream non-smart phones without Internet plans, desktop synchronization and next-gen GPS with web-based local search functionality but worrying about creating cool ajaxy websites for the stationary platform does not truly extend the mobile platform.

Class II Innovation
Class II innovations involve a different mindset - thinking of the mobile device as an asset not a liability and thinking of the mobile device and devices as a true platform. The idea is to accentuate and extend the mobile platform and innovate new applications and services for use on the go.

Some of these could include more sensor-based services regarding the local setting, permissioned messaging from local merchants via text, Internet or voice (push a hotkey to have a service call you with the name and details of nearby wifi cafes, 3-star restaurants with immediate availability). That the phone is a phone is often forgotten for efficient asynchronous information delivery. Distribute platform services could include accessing anonymized data from other nearby phones which have made similar requests via push or pull, or using other crowd-search smarts for similar information.

Mobile is inherently multidisciplinary and innovations in hardware, integration and other software areas such as speech recognition as they arrive will likely continually redefine the mobile platform and trigger new waves of services development. Presumably in the not too distant future, mobile and stationary should be somewhat meaningless distinctions (like digital and biological intelligence) when considering the ubiquitous wide-band continually communicating computing grid.