For the moment, forget about if I'm right, what happens if these guys are right? New technologies that have been in the works for a long time can seem to come out of nowhere to become critical to everyday life. Let's see what happens when the cell phone becomes the teleputer, powered by a Microvision full color eyeglass display:

Ray Kurzweil:
Era of smart people is dawning
Also a technology milestone, according to Kurzweil, was the retinal display that projects virtual realities directly into the biological eye with a laser. The retinal display heralds an era of non-invasive interface technologies that allow people to directly access the information.

The retinal display achieves that by writing its images directly onto the retina of the eye, transferring pixel data to the brain without any physical connection.

Full-body LANs using wireless technologies, according to Kurzweil, will complement subsystems like the retinal display by connecting all the computing devices you carry in your pockets, such as automatic language translators and holographic projectors.

The Age of Spiritual Machines
By 2009, computers will disappear. Visual information will be written directly onto our retinas by devices in our eyeglasses and contact lenses. In addition to high resolution virtual monitors appearing to hover in space, these intimate displays will provide full-immersion visual virtual reality. We will have ubiquitous very high bandwidth wireless connection to the Internet at all times.

"Going to a Website" will mean entering a virtual reality environment--at least for the visual and auditory senses--where we will meet other real people. There will be simulated people as well, but these virtual personalities will not be up to human standards, at least not by 2009. The miniscule electronics powering these developments will be invisibly embedded in our glasses and clothing. Thus we won't be searching for our misplaced mobile phones, Palms, notebooks, and other gadgets. And we won't have to deal with the mess of wires that now entangle our lives. We will be plugged in all the time, and able to have any type of interaction with anyone regardless of physical proximity.

Bill Gates:
Bill Gates Comments on Microvision Technology
"This [Microvision Nomad] is a very cool thing," said Gates.

"This type of heads-up display is a great aid in giving you an informational overlay for complex procedures," Gates said. "It can even be miniaturized further so that you don't have to wear a contraption. The whole thing could fit on, say, a pair of glasses."

It also could be used with mobile phones, Gates said, as a sort of wearable computer that provides what he says is "glanceable information."

"The cost still needs to come down before this can be imminent, but if somebody's calling you, this could show you on the heads-up display who is calling," he said. "That would sure be better than going into your pocket and pulling out a phone."

Remarks by Bill Gates, Dec. 7, 2005
If we think of a cell phone even four years from now, it will have many new capabilities. It will be able to show you a map of your current location, not just a map in the traditional sense, but even a picture of the buildings, show you the routes that you want to go on, virtual reality indicating the current traffic conditions, indicating if there is any of your colleagues who are in the area that you might want to be in touch with, a sense of how long it's going to take you to travel there.

George Gilder:
George Gilder: The Rise of the Teleputer (Windows Media Player)
People imagine a computer to be a CRT, like a television set, connected with a big keyboard and a mouse, tied to a hard drive -- and that model is going away, it's being replaced by what I call the 'teleputer' which is a small handheld device that resembles a cell phone and as a matter of fact incorporates a cell phone through which the screen dissolves into a display from Microvision which actually, you wear glasses that actually project onto your retina, the whole image at a resolution higher than in your existing CRT. Higher resolution, better response than ordinary CRT connected to what you think of as a cell phone that also has a touch pad.

So, the cell phone really becomes your computer. And it's a better computer with more features and more capabilities than your old desktop clunker with its Windows and its viruses and its other problems which currently afflict the old computer model which is expiring today.

This is real technology, Microvision is selling these things in volume to the Army now, these are the headsets that write the image onto your retina.

All these capabilities of the cell phone are now here. Microvision does the heads up screen and there are all these other developments that are enriching your cell phone form factor into a computer that's better and richer and more robust than the one you use in your office.


  1. I think Kurzweil is both a certified genius and an authentic wack-o. Speech recognition? He talks about it (in that linked 1998 article) like it's already a consumer commodity.

    Have you ever tried to train a computer with VRS? After countless training hours, it's pretty feeble, even with the latest greatest PC. And that's in a perfectly quiet room - god forbid you move to a location with a different ambient noise, or someone turns on a fan.

    Here we are 8 years after this article was written, and the things he's saying will be available to the masses are still years away. Useful voice recognition that's easy to train and will run on your average PC? I'd say 2010 at the earliest.

    Also, he ignores cost. Only the wealthiest of people will either a) own the computers of the future that can simulate human intelligence or b) afford the neural implants to be able to keep up. This ain't like selling hamburgers at Mickey D's - we're talking big buck to even be a part of this game.

    Also, think of the mass slaughter that could be rendered by a single virus written by some 18 yr. old carbon based being. It looks like mainstream PC's will run Microsoft products for as long as I can see into the future, so I'm sure perpetrating widespread damage this way would be a feasible and fun challenge to some.

    So what's my point? The vast majority of humans on earth will remain outside this technical divide (I'd guess for the rest of this century), and might not be the worse off for it.

  2. Kurzweil's main argument is that the nature of tech progress is exponential rather than linear -- and that this enables progress faster than what people intuitively think may be possible.

    I use speech recognition on my Samsung cell phone and it works brilliantly. Very helpful compared to scrolling through the contact list.

    Costs for new technologies may initially be high but it has been proven that the cost per cycle of processing power has been dropping like a rock for as long as there have been computers.

    As there are viruses there is virus protection, and the internet as we know it has stayed up despite the efforts of hackers and other low-lifes.

    We'll see what people choose to do regarding their own augmentation with technology but it can be plainly seen with every iPod wearing, Bluetooth earbud chatting person that we are already integrated with our personal technology, and that integration will only grow more intimate and powerful as time goes along.

    Thanks for writing. I'd check out Ray's books, in particular 'The Age of Spiritual Machines' which is completely amazing.


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