Thursday, May 31, 2007

Microsoft and the future of human computer interfaces: If we change the way we look at things, will the things we look at change?

One of the very interesting issues that we face in bioethics is the merger of human and machine -- the ethical, legal, and social implications -- (stayed tuned for upcoming article references, including references to Glenn McGee's code of robot ethics) and I think this recent innovation will bring another step closer to the integration of the human body and machine:

Microsoft unveils revolutionary device
New top-secret 'Surface' will change the way we look at computing

"At the touch of a hand, the hard, plastic tabletop suddenly dissolved into what looked like tiny ripples of water. The ‘water’ responded to each of his fingers and the ripples rushed quickly away in every direction....the radical new approach starts with the guts of the device itself. Under the impact-resistant plastic top skin on an otherwise nondescript table hide five infrared scanners, a projector and a wireless modem. The scanners recognize objects and shapes placed on the top and respond to them accordingly."

Full text here.

Next stop, the holographic interface, like in the movie Minority Report?

1 comment:

Kelly Hills said...

I actually know of someone working on that sort of holographic interface...

For folks interested in the more social aspects of this sort of thing, I cannot highly enough recommend Data Made Flesh, edited by Phillip Thurtle and Robert Mitchell. The book description says it all: In an age of cloning, cyborgs, and biotechnology, the line between bodies and bytes seems to be disappearing. Data Made Flesh is the first collection to address the increasingly important links between information and embodiment, at a moment when we are routinely tempted, in the words of Donna Haraway, "to be raptured out of the bodies that matter in the lust for information," whether in the rush to complete the Human Genome Project or in the race to clone a human being, and it is every bit as wonderful a book as it sounds. It also includes one of my favourite essays, period, of all time - Rich Doyle's "LSDNA".

I suppose, in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that Thurtle was my undergrad adviser. ;-)