Steve Jobs has invented the Next Big Thing, death be damned — Human Computer Workflows, iPad & iPhone & the Singularity

Two weeks ago, Farhad Manjoo of WSJ wrote a great year-end round-up on tech. In it, he argues that pundits should stop lamenting the lack of a “next big thing” — because it’s already here. Namely, the smartphone and tablet.

But I found something else in the article that underscored his point — and some dots to connect which Farhad did not. This gem is in the very last paragraph, where Farhad states:

“I think we’re witnessing the dawn of a new paradigm in machine-human cooperation: Combining machine intelligence with biological intelligence will always trump one or the other. Machines make us better, and we make machines better. There’s still hope for us. Welcome to the bionic future.”

Now, Farhad uses this paragraph to underscore a different point he makes in the preceding paragraph — that we don’t need to worry about computers taking our jobs. On that, I slightly disagree — after all, does it really matter if a computer takes your job or if a human using a computer takes it because his productivity has doubled?

But with this great paragraph, Farhad is implicitly underscoring why the smartphone and tablet are so very important — because they define brand new interfaces that put human computer workflows into hyper-drive. He calls it the bionic future. There’s another meme for it: The Singularity.

You may recall a movie a few years back called The Singularity is Near. Or, maybe you’ve read Ray Kurzweil or other brilliant minds talk about a coming moment when true artificial intelligence will be realized and machines will be smarter than us.

But today’s new age-y, overly dramatic web-o-sphere debate on this topic — Will the Singularity happen in the year 2042 or 2035? Is Artificial Intelligence really possible? Will the outcomes be Utopian or Hellish? — are completely missing the point.

Ray Kurzweil himself states, in the movie, that the Singularity isn’t so much about AI as it is about a time in which the workflows and interactions between computers and humans will merge together to create a hyper-intelligence that will take the world into an unpredictable direction And to that, I’ll add this:

The Singularity is Here.

In parallel to Farhad’s main point in the article, I think the scientists studying the Singularity should stop bickering about when it might happen and start to think about the ways that it is already happening. With everything accelerating, we don’t have a lot of time to figure out how best to shape & influence the cycle of human computer interaction toward the most peaceful and stable outcomes.

On the other hand — if you’re interested in the effects that these trends have on our ability to tag, log & edit video hyper-efficiently, by all means, feel free to reach out.


Expert in video tech, TV biz, prototyping, product strategy, marketing & sales.

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