The topics addressed in this article are covered in depth in my Kindle etextbook available on Amazon Books, as well as my iversity online course on the subject of #metaverses #xr & #immersive tech.
Let me begin with Kathleen Booth, the British computer scientist and inventor of the assembly language, who has just died aged 100. And the exciting news from successful Spanish climate change activists who campaigned to get the University of Barcelona to make a Climate Emergency course mandatory for staff and students. The link is how innovation can make history. How Booth, nee Brittan, wrote one of the first computing languages for the one of the early, best selling Personal Computers in her home country before emigrating to Canada.
We need innovation to make the world a better place. All too often the innovators are not regarded highly enough in their original environments, or worse, are actively disparaged and blocked. The Barcelona students of the End Fossil group understand their role in history. It is now or never. Meanwhile, Professor Booth was obviously driven to create new programming source codes for innovative hardware that her husband and fellow computer scientist created. Team work par excellence.
The moral of these parallel stories is that it is never too late to make historic changes and improve the world. Consider this chart I drew up about the climate change impact of smartphones — derived from some pioneering Canadian research on the subject. I examine it briefly in my last Medium post.
In my book on the topic of “The Evolution of the Internet”, I look at how metaverses and Mixed Reality innovations in hardware and software are pushing the boundaries of sustainable programming. I mapped out these developments in the table shown at the start of this article. As you can see in the diagram at the top of this post, I and an increasing number of my peers, are advocating the replacement of the “dodo devices” smartphones with Immersive Technologies.
These include more voice-enabled hardware or cognitive interfaces when they are connected to NLP-based interfaces. We call this in my niche in the industry Conversational AI. This branch of Artificial Intelligence that involves Natural Language Processing and Understanding will see more than just our phones talking back with some useful search engine results or making corny jokes. We are moving steadily beyond Amazon Alexa’s Skills for Home Environments that are meant to be helpful with your everyday life and tasks.
The advent of proto-metaverses envisages a blending of our physical reality with 3D digital experiences. These can be in the form of avatars who represent us in computer games, currently run off desktops and consoles. In the future, as Niantic and Meta propose, the UX or daily experience will be hybrid: outdoors and involving interactive holograms, large size Augmented Reality characters and scenes that blend into our everyday life. Extended Reality is already happening.
As it emerges from computer science labs and departments around the world, not to mention from visionary entrepreneurs and intrepid start ups, we need to remain activists for our social wellbeing and the environment. Like the students in Barcelona, we must make these concerns a mandatory part of our learning and development or we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Take a look at my diagram of how I think the advance of hybrid XR experiences and metaverses will evolve — combined with the social and mental health risks and benefits.