The ghostly touch

ghost.jpg Ghost Image © Flickr user Jordi Carrasco under CC BY 2.0 image modified

breath, good or bad spirit, angel, demon, human being

"Gast", Old English



Lets put the ghost back into the machine.

Tools are conduits for the mind to effect energies and matter. As you type into a computer, or watch through a remote CCTV camera, you are extending your senses and acting in different arenas. Often you are entering a digital, or virtual world. Sometimes you move to other physical locations. Your disembodied voice and touch travel; the ghost travels.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

Arthur C Clarke's third law

Remote sensing and action has become so commonplace that it seems foolish to point it out. A hundred years ago we would have thought of these abilities as only within the realms of the supernatural or fantastical. Now these technologies daily extend our human capacities for action. Side-stepping evolution, we are transcending some of our species' physical limits.

These interfaces between us and our new "powers" follow an arc from the walls of our buildings into our bodies. Following the arc, moving inwards, here are some examples;

  1. Wall: An interactive game, world of warcraft (5.5 million users), in a media room (display and speakers on wall). lighting control, thermostat, intercom
  2. Desk, sitting location: A laptop, phone.
  3. Hands: A phone, an eReader, tablet computer
  4. Body: Google glass, apple watch, virtual reality goggles.
  5. Implants: Not mainstream yet, but they are arriving.

    • 1998,Kevin Warwick implanted himself with a RFID chip controlling doors and lights.

    • 2016, Ocumetics Technology Corp, are developing lens implants that augment vision by up to a factor of 3.

    • 2016, DARPA are funding the development of tiny implants which interface millions of neurons in the brain with the digital world - a data link.

At one end of the arc, cybernetically enhanced humans and the other technology attached to or preferably permeating our buildings. Everything in between, we use every day.

I'm less interested in having computers inside me, my focus is on the far end of the arc. I'm interested in those architects and designers who are creating progressive environments, environments where you are enough. We need radical buildings where you can walk inside freely without need for a phone or computer to access these advanced technological abilities. Human-centric environments that extend your capacities and scope of action without burdening you with technological clutter.

In another post I'll sketch out some ideas for environments that might enable us, without entanglement.

In the meantime I'd love to get your ideas on how to extend the ghostly touch.

back