My wife and I (and now our kids, 4 and 1) have been fans of Animusic ever since we first saw the early videos back when we were at Cornell (Wayne Lytle wrote his first music animation software while at Cornell). The first video we saw, and one of the most memorable, was called "Pipe Dream". Now two guys, Dan Paluska and Jeff Lieberman, have created an "automated multi-instrumental orchestral machine" that bears more than a passing resemblance to the ball-bouncing instruments in Pipe Dream. It's located at 186 Orchard St. in New York City. Wonderful...I can't wait to show this to my kids! (via Gizmodo)
Incidentally, if you like bouncing balls, check out some of George Rhoads' sculpture, another Ithaca resident. (previously)
At io9, The Pros and Cons of a Google Brain Implant. My comment:
...Over the next 10-50 years this could be a real issue.
I feel as if I already operate using the 'external collective brain' to some degree. Using my 3G smartphone and Google, I can look up, in about 30 seconds or less, just about any miscellaneous fact that I need. Maps (GPS phone), images and videos included. The weak link in the interface is the fact that this is still done using a device and my fingers, so the input is slow. When you think about it, all that's needed to make this a reality is a faster interface--brain implant, eye gestures, etc.
As we rely on external sources for basic factual information (still of course using our minds for logic and analysis), I do worry that we'll begin to lose something. For example, the portions of our brain responsible for wrote memorization: will they atrophy due to the fact that we don't memorize much any more? Will this inflict currently unforeseen collateral damage on other parts of our brain? Perhaps contemporary neuroscientists have already studied this...
Has anyone seen the 'Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex' series? Worth watching in it's own right, but particularly interesting in relation to this particular discussion. The series deals with computer-human hybrid brain issues, in a very trenchant manner. There is even some thought given to future diseases that may be caused by 'cyberization' of the brain.
I recall one scene in particular involving 3 characters: two of them are having a complex discussion in involving a barrage of literary and cultural references. The third character, eaves-dropping, interjects and remarks that they're having a fascinating discussion, but he couldn't follow it because he didn't have an 'external memory device'. In other words, he understood the logic and essence of the conversation, but his brain wasn't connected to the internet, so he couldn't 'look up' a lot of the specific references.
Perhaps a scene from our not-to-distant future... Funny thing is, I can recall at least two times in the past 3 months that I've been in a group discussion and I snuck out my phone to Google a historical reference that I didn't get at first. I looked it up on the sly and kept plugging right away at the discussion without missing a beat. Would have been easier with a brain implant...