August 19, 2003

Get Jacked In, People

This week we welcome several new members to the FastForward Posse as we try to make sense of the Infinite Internet. Let's see what there is to see in this Brave New Unwired World.

FastForward to the Infinite Internet

1. Read the Book!

2. Mike Sargent:

A couple of the things I anticipate (with varying degrees of dread and desire) about Mr. Lightman's "exponentially smarter and more responsive" future environment are:

— The eventual (within this century) integration of biological (nerve tissue) sensors and processors (eyes, ears, skin, tongues, noses and brains, human and otherwise) either directly (current examples: cochlear and retinal implants) or inductively (see ITF#8). When combined with '4G', IPv6, or similar data-transfer concepts this implies that the entire phylum Chordata (if not further afield) might conceivably be 'wired together', downloaded and archived, or interrogated (in either the positive and the pejorative senses).

—Initially, the 'skinriders' (those who cross-connect their own nervous systems with others) will probably be regarded in a similar light to the pierced, tattooed and scarified of our current society. As 'skinriding' and 'upgrades to the wetware' (enhanced senses, offboard storage of memories, etc.) become more capable and more frequently used for 'practical' purposes like sociobiological research or military applications, those who do not, at minimum, use some kind of noninvasive neural interface on a daily basis will come to be regarded as marginal, nearly crippled, and probably suspected of motives similar to some of the more violent anti-technological religious sects active today.

Mike wins this weeks LISP Memorial Prize for robust use of parentheses.

Some of our less astute readers are going to need a little help with the "positive sense of interrogation.” (Okay, actually it’s me. What the heck does this mean?) I wonder: if the whole phylum is wired together out here in meat space, how much longer will it be before an exact digital replica exists online? And when that happens, will everything out here be considered redundant? Expendable, even?

I propose we drop the name FastForward Posse in favor of The Skinriders. Or does that sound too much like something you'd order on Adult pay-per-view?

- Phil -

3. Get a Wearable Display

Available from

4. Bob Baker:

One of the uses of G5 technology will be transmitting medical data from monobots resident in the human body. Monobots (monitor robots), based on nanotechnology, will monitor the health of the host at the cellular level. Monobots specifically designed to measure cellular processes will send the data to storage sites where it will be analyzed for variance with previous data archived in massive medical storage facilities. The future of the human race is not to wear computers but to host them. This technology is at least 50 years distant and probably 100 - 200 years before it is perfected and common.

Bob knows his robots. Plus he’s the only member of the Posse who can parse the phrase "50 words or less.”

- Phil -

5. NTT DoCoMo

One of the companies Alex talked about extensively last week. Check out their Vision 2010 video for a look at a truly wired (wireless) world.

6. Ringleader Vic:

I've been waiting for someone to capitalize on the best idea yet. Picture a world in which you never have to carry a wallet again. There will be no need for identification. No need for cash or credit cards. No more John Does.

Instead of credit card machines and ATM's, technology should allow for a device that scans your most unique identifier, your fingerprint. Just think of all the major conveniences. Dining out? "That'll be $65.75 Sir. Please touch the pad. Pulled over by the cops? "I need to see your index finger please!" There will be no more wondering if the two slaughtered gentlemen on the TV screen are really who the media says they are: just scan the fingers dude.

Lost children would be no problem. "I want my mommy!" Scan the finger…….beep…beep ….zip…zip…zip, out comes the sheet. Joey Jones - Ph. 555-5555 address 1935 Maple St. "We're taking you home son!"

Imagine the effect on petty theft. "Hey!, someone stole my wallet!" Now it will be, "Hey! Someone cut my hand off!" The only problem with trying to steal the entire hand is that the original owner would have to enter four fingers in his predetermined order. The thief would have no idea what that order is and would look pretty stupid trying to scan a bloody hand.

In Short there would be no need for any ID or any need for billing of any kind again. Every service would require a touch that would automatically be deducted from your bank account monthly. Groceries, gas your phone….EVERYTHING. Just make sure your employer recharges your print on payday to cover all of those convenient expenses.

Vic, don’t you ever watch the Sopranos? They always cut off the heads and hands of the victims to make sure you can’t identify them. I think nanotechnology will make counterfeiting fingerprints fairly easy. We’ll need to find another unique identifier. Retina? Probably not much harder to copy than fingerprints. Your individual DNA? Nope. Too easy to steal.

Maybe DNA plus PIN code?

Bonus points to Vic for providing a self-portrait.

- Phil -

7. Get a Complete Wearable Computer

Available from

8. Joanie:

Do we really need access to the Internet everywhere we go? Do we?

At first thought, this sounds like a great idea. You have access to store websites and can compare prices while you're out shopping. You can e-mail your significant other and ask where the hell they are when they're supposed to have met you at Ikea 30 minutes ago. Keep tabs on your kids while they're out on a date.

MOM: Hello! I know you're there.
MOM: I know you have your instant messenger up. That better be ALL that's "up" or you'll be in serious trouble. I'm getting your dad in on this one.
DAD: Listen up, I expect you to answer your mother when she's messaging you!
DAD: I can see you're online.
DAD: Answer me now, you hear?
KID: Oh, hi Dad. I was just in the bathroom and left my jacketputer here at the table.
DAD: What table? Where are you? Why didn't you have your GPS working? Aren't you wearing your ballcapputer?
KID: No. I'm not wearing the cap tonight. I hate that hat. We're at XYZ Pizza.
DAD: Let me see.
MOM: I don't like their pizza. It tastes like cardboard. And, why are you out without your hat? What's wrong with your hat? Your grandmother bought that for you!
KID: (Firing up the jacketcam) See? There's Shannon, Keith, Jack, Beth, and the rest of the gang.
DAD: Did you just say gang? Are you involved in gang activity?
KID: Dad, chill. I meant the whole "gang" of my friends. You know, a group of people? Not, like, Crips and Bloods. As if! You know we're not those kinds of kids. I mean, we live in a town of 1,400 people! Everyone knows everyone else...we're tiny! What territory would we fight over? The corner of 1st and Main? Hardly worth it. Who wants the claim the flower shop as their territory?
DAD: Okay, I misunderstood.
MOM: Honey, you really shouldn't read so much into what he says.
DAD: Are you behaving yourself? Why'd Shannon go under the table? She better not be unzipping your pants, young man!
KID: Dad! She dropped her napkin. The pizza's here. Can I go now?
DAD: Lower your sleeve so I can see what she's doing.
KID: (Shannon appears back on screen - waves napkin at KID'S dad.) See? There she is. Nothing to worry about. I'm gonna go now. I wanna eat this pizza while it's still hot.
MOM: You will be home by curfew won't you?
DAD: Leave the jacketcam on, son.
MOM: Leave the jacketcam on, son.
KID: No way! I gotta go. (End cam)
DAD: You leave that cam on, young man!
DAD: Hey! Put that back on!
KID: (signed off messenger)
DAD: He signed off.
MOM: I see that.
DAD: I have half a mind to go down there after him and take him his capputer.
MOM: Not dressed like that, you won't! And, quit looking at porn!

...whoah, I have to cut this short lest I compromise the pristine, Epcot-like atmosphere we’ve maintained so well here at the Speculist. Read the rest (it’s wicked funny) over at Joanie's blog.

More from da Goddess:

Or, imagine what bloggers would do computer access EVERYWHERE! We already have people blogging about bowel movements and plumbing disasters. Do you really wanna go into the bathroom with these people? You do realize they'll start taking pictures and posting them, don't you? We don't wanna go there. Please.

Technology at our finger tips is handy. But, it can also be intrusive and obstructive. People should get off-line and live life! There's nothing wrong with a little old-fashioned legwork while out shopping. There's nothing wrong with being disconnected from the rest of the world and enjoying time alone with family or friends or heck, even truly "alone"....

Now, where did my coffee mug with the WiFi card go?.

Joanie is the official choice of the Speculist for TBOTCOTW's sexiest female blogger poll. Everyone drop by (early and often) and cast your votes for her.

- Phil -

9. Consider the Alternatives

How about these four possible futures for the Internet?

10. Ringleader Mike

It seems that jacking in these days centers around getting broadband and then synching everything you own to it. This is the PDA model in which you have single point of managing everything: appointments, contacts, reminders, emails, phone calls, web sites, music, movies, lovers. Then you work from there. It seems pretty limiting, but with all the noise, it is comforting to know that everything you care about collects in one place. It's sort of like having a home, which I think we all connect to on some level.

Wireless still seems a bit for the birds. I'm yet to see an implementation that actually gives you true freedom from the wired world. At best, it fills in the short gaps of the wired world and lets you wander off a bit before getting out of range or needing a refresh from the wired home base. Again, unless you're a true nomad, you probably don't care about this limitation.

The great thing about this brave new hooked-to-everything world (and perhaps it's ultimate flaw) is that there's always a way to connect to someone doing something somewhere somehow for some stupid reason. It seems great but it could turn the whole place into a bad episode of short attention span theatre. Google is great but how do you even begin to care about everything? Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I need my blinders.

I think we’re fast approaching the day when having any kind of blinders at all will require installing a really good firewall.

- Phil -

Thanks to everyone who participated this week. Good stuff!

All next week, the Speculist celebrates the near convergence of Earth with the planet Mars. FastForward will be a compendium of all things Martian. How do we get there, what would we do there, is there life there? Entries on Barsoom, Mars Bars, Mars Attacks, The Martian Chronicles, and Kenneth Mars are all welcome. Send them to the Speculist by midnight Monday (8/25).

Posted by Phil at August 19, 2003 01:56 PM | TrackBack

I have an issue regarding Phil's comment on entry #6, "We’ll need to find another unique identifier. Retina? Probably not much harder to copy than fingerprints.". There is a distinct problem with retinal identification already. A woman, even in the early stages of pregnancy, goes through many physical and chemical changes, as most people are aware of. One change that takes place in the earliest stages of pregnancy, frequently even before the woman herself knows, is her retina changes. I know this because I have a good friend who used to work at an Air Force Base where retinal scanners were utilized. Think of how disconcerting it would be to walk into work, go through a retinal scan, and be detained by 18 year olds with machine guns because the computer thinks you aren't you!

Posted by: Peggy Sargent at August 19, 2003 08:25 PM

In the order presented:

Thank you for the "prize", in future I will prune my prose more proficiently.

Evidently though, I left out one more required parenthetical comment. To wit: an explication of "positive sense of interrogation." While one may (especially in certain 'unidentified third countries') use the verb 'to interrogate' to indicate the involuntary extraction of information for purposes of criminal investigation or intelligence-gathering, another, admittedly archaic, and less nuanced use of the term implies inquiry or polling, especially when applied to locations within computer memory or the status of a particular sensor.

Hmm, FastForward Posse vs. The Skinriders?

Sounds like eight track rappers versus a Jenna Jameson homage to John Ford.

Seriously though, I believe the term 'skinriders' is taken from a role-playing game involving ghosts and other disembodied spirits and refers to the spiritual (as in ghostly) equivalent of the neuroelectronic possibility I wrote about adding the issues of:

a) internecene terf war between geek subcultures

b) a (small) possibility of copyright violation, and,

c) an (even smaller) possibility of offending certain religious sensibilities

to the existing 'cool factor' consideration.

My feeling? Keep the "posse". (I can't get the deposit back on my DEPUTY SPECULIST badge.)

While were somewhere in the vicinity of the subject of arcane high level programming languages and parsing instructions

set postlength >>50

Posted by: Mike Sargent at August 19, 2003 09:12 PM

Peggy, I would agree that weight gain, stretch marks, and postpartum depression constitute sufficient drawbacks for getting pregnant. We don't need to add the risk of being a suspected terrorist.

Mike, thanks for clearing that "interrogate" thing up. It looks like the Posse we shall remain.

Posted by: Phil at August 20, 2003 09:18 AM

Good feed back Peggy. Oh the many wonderful changes the female body goes through during pregnancy. I've seen it many times and can usually indentify a new mom to be just by looking at her face. You are all uniquely angelic, however everything seems to soften when with child. It's like a nature thing, an external message that says leave this one alone, she's special.
I still say the four finger random order entry is the best solution and look for it to be available in the very near future.

Posted by: Vic at August 20, 2003 10:12 AM

3284 Get your online poker fix at

Posted by: poker at August 15, 2004 06:21 PM
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