Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by :: kna ::, 28 Jun 2004.
Interesting column, Chris.
My personal feelings are that StarTrek TNG actually got it about right. Voice control is used when appropriate, for example when someone wants an answer to a simple question and to share that information, such as "where is so-and-so?". It is also used when someone is trying to express themselves (for example writing a log or report in private, remember they all have their own quarters on the ship) or when trying to work through a problem in a natural way (Geordi does it in a few eipisodes).
For everything else, there are the touch screens. The idea is that they are so easy to use, so intuitive, that you don't even have to think about it. That's why the cast were told to just rapidly press lots of different buttons like it was completely natural and obvious. I think the displays that slowly roll data out and the little beeps everything makes help guide your attention too. As you say, it's an excellent way to work, especially on a ship that is self-cleaning and there is no danger of getting fingerprints on all the displays
I don't think the mouse and keyboard will go away for a while though. It's not at all clear how you would type with a touch screen display (unless you had a keyboard on-screen which kind of defeats the object). Also, no-one has so far come up with a better way to control certain types of games. Play a multiplayer FPS with a joypad and see how badly you suck. Trackballs help prevent RSI and have the advantage that you never run out of mouse mat, but for sheer speed it's hard to beat a mouse.
The Monority Report display was the best. Keeps you fit... perhaps a dance mat controller is the way to go in that respect?
I too would like to know what is going to be comming up next. While mouseing definitly increases the occurence of RSI because you are only using one or two fingers in such a small little motion hundreds of times a day don't forget that they keyboard is also a contributor.
Personally I love my Wacom tablet. My index finger would get cramped up after about an hour of 3D modeling or any other click-intensive thing but now I can work away without getting unconfortable. The Wacom is as close to a touch-screen as you can get without actually shelling the cash for a touch screen. Plus, one big problem with touch screens that are of any decent size is that one has the want to rest their hand against the screen and then you end up with big smudges everywhere.
Lots of little breaks to get up and wander around are important too!!
Oh, and why do they have touch screens in StarTrek? For many operations, such as helm control, it is probably a whole heck of a lot faster for them to key in the information than try to put all of the coridinates and speeds into a big sentance. Personally I never quite understood why they have somebody at the helm most of the time anyway...I don't see why the computer couldn't just take the captains commands verbally (i.e. set course for Earth, Warp 4) and automatically convert that to the proper corrdinants, but that's besides the point
This is actually one of my interests, so it's good to read another viewpoint on it.
I read the comic (and articles) at OK/Cancel on a regular basis.
Re: Minority Report - sure it looks cool, but it's totally impractical and certainly not 'accessible' [in the modern usage]. OK/C's take on it.
Touch screens are good because there is a definite point at which input IS being given and when it isn't - voice control doesn't have this (unless you use a keyword before every command).
I know a guy who was doing Automotive Design at Uni, and would use his mouse and keyboard with his left hand and a tablet/pen with the other.
edit: nice article!
One other thought on touch screens. Fingers are kind of big and blunt, so are not much use for fine detail work. Unless you have a massive low resolution screen then most GUIs would have ot be re-designed to use bigger icons and controls. A tablet and pen solves both these problems.
reading university is working on physical implants plugged into your nervous system. and the plastisity of the humman brain is so large that it only takes a few weeks for the brain to create new connections in order to use these implants. with it it's even possible to remote control someones arm or leg, depending where the implant is 'plugged in'. This is the future of computing, forget about manipulating holograms, you will get tired and the reason a mouse is better is because you have somewhere to rest your forearms. Just imagine thinking about your cursor, and it appears where you want, although it would make FPS useless.....
how would it? you'd just imagine turning your head and the view would rotate...
Nice article, but where it falls down a bit is that it assumes that most computer interaction will be verbal (not, e.g., visuo-spatial) and that computers will remain passive objects that things need to be done to.
Let's go back to Picard. Let's say that after a heavy day on the bridge, making split-second decisions that can alter the fate/dimensional fabric/timeline of the Universe, diplomatically avoiding another all-out-war scenario with those touchy klingons/Romulans,whilst smiling that enigmatic smile that says: "Hey, bald men can be sexy!", he wanders into his quarters, ready to curl up with another leather bound volume of some literary masterpiece that we all should feel really guilty for never having read. Usually he first traces a path to his replicator, where he will request his tea, Earl Grey, hot. Every day, without fail, being a human creature of habit as he is. Does he really need to spell it out to a piece of 23rd Century tech after all this time? Is that machine not, well, clever enough to anticipate his request by now?
Perhaps it can even get it ready for him, next to his favorite chair, as soon as he approaches the door. Perhaps it can even track his diary, movements and scan physiological correlates of his mental/body state and correctly adjust expectations for this (some days, after an invigorating game of squash on the Holodeck, he might prefer ice tea, with lemon, cold. If his diary states he has a long night of diplomatic report reading ahead of him, he might prefer coffee, Arabica, strong).
What I'm saying is that computers could be active participants, and facilitate interaction with them. So MS Office 2304 might correctly anticipate that Ted would not want an e-mail containing the terms "hunk of man-love" read out to him aloud (thenagain, it is Windows we're talking about). The OK/Cancel website criticises the obvious "do what I think" phenomena in the Mirority Report interface scene, but perhaps, if computers become accurate enough at reading our actions, body language, facial expression and physiological arousal levels, and at learning our associated behaviour and habits, then that "telepathy" is not so far fetched. Tom Cruise may prefer rotating a picture by turning his wrist; his colleague by twirling his index finger... Dependent on context, facial expression, sequence, gesture speed and accuracy, posture etc. the same action may mean different things, be intended to achieve a different aim.
We're talking artifical intelligence here, of course. Hey, we're wired to interact with people, right? So let the machine come to us. Let it become more human in its interaction. I envisage that future computer interfaces might be more like Rio in "Neuromancer" (Gibson), or the Hughies in "Silver Screen" (Robson), or even like the good ol' Doctor in Star Trek Voyager.
Going back to the verbal/visual. Another thing is how we conceptualise information. Does it have to be words, sentences, text? What about communication through visuo-spatial means? Example: Phillips electronics developed this prototype answering machine. Rather than being a white plastic box with buttons, it's shaped like a bowl (with a hole in the edge, and a little "cup" at the center). Every time someone leaves a message, a marble rolls into the bowl. To read your message, pick up the marble, and place it in a little cup at the center of the bowl. the message plays back. To erase the message, drop the marble in the storage container at the side of the bowl. Each person can have his own colour marble, of course. Marbles could glow a different colour (that red flashing one is really urgent!).
Similarly, we could build ideas (or the molecules of new medicines) from spheres or blocks, not words. We could CAD/CAM design planes, bridges or buildings like we did when we were kids, from lego. Except that the virtual "lego" in this case might exhibit behaviour if you're asking it to do something that defies the laws of physics (hey, that crossbar I just placed on the bridge supports there turned red and started to bend, and there was this really nasty sound of creaking metal. Perhaps the forces that will be exerted on it are going to be too great for it. Better try a thicker piece... ah, that's better: it turns a nice pastel green and there's the reassuring sound of a gentle breeze wafting through big, strong trees)...
Let's think out of the box, people. For the first time in human history we can. Computers allow us to do that.
woah - essay.
but good points really - maybe you should write counter-articles.
re: tea-preference predictions: it would freak me out if a computer did that, and I'd probably just end up having something different just to spite it!
edit: you got a link for Silver Screen?
guess what film i was watching while i read your piece.yup star wars am i the only one who thought the minority report screen was a good idea........
*will explain in more detail tomorrow when i'd had some sleep*
Terrific reading, thx!
no need to quote his whole post dude.
(to reply with no quote, use the button to the bottom left.)
Yeah, no problems...
@ Jazzle: find info on all of Robson's excellent books, including Silver Screen, :here:.
And if Bit-Tech would like me to write some articles for them, all they have to do is ask...
I think we have a new column writer, this is more how I see a future interaction between us and computers.
I somehow don't see us waving our arms around "minority report" fashion, its just not practical.
Nor do I see voice control as a viable medium for general day to day use, Its bad enough having my flatmate screaming "in the vent shaft, FFS" whilst playing CS, I don't want to be shouting "turn left, move forward, no - stop, left a bit more, aim up, now right just a wee bit.... FIRE, **** missed"
I still envisage a visible medium, controlled by a similar method to today until such a time as AI has moved from the womb and into the real world.
William Gibson! Nexxo has the idea! I think that's more where things are headed. Plug ('jack') in (or maybe there will eventually be 'wireless' versions) and let your brain do the talking...
Imagine a computer that writes a document as fast as you can think? Though, maybe by the time this came about there might be some direct neural-to-neural signal ('nmail'?) that bypasses even the clumsy optic-nerve-recognition interface that is 'text'. Techno telepathy anyone?
Verbal interface? Meh...keep extrapolating....
EDIT - I do like the idea of having a computer interface like the Doctor from StarTrek:Voyager (my favourite character). Can I have one with the same dry sarcasm please?
I agree with Nexxo , (many great points ) about computers becoming active participants / lerning our habits /anticapating our needs.
G-gnome ... yes , wireless computer interface ( sorry , while I like the doc's dry sarcasm .... my computer interface is going to be like "Romy" , Andromeda's Avatar !! )
exactly what i think, but what happens when a computers intellegence matches or even suppercedes our own, will we as a human race stay in control? or will they quickly learn they can take over... what then...
it's closer than we think, computer power doubles every 18 months and software is becoming increasingly complex. where seeing software built to debug other software, some even to make other software. robotic technology will soon learn, there exist spider bots which if lose a leg learn to cope without, using complex neural nets and genetic algorythyms...
this is the sort of research being done at reading university and an early version of neural to neural interface was even achieved in june 2002, using wireless technology and the internet
evolution is exponential what we as a species are about to witness for the first time in history is possibly the greatest evolutionary step mankind has ever faced. But this time it won't be a biolobical change but it will be artificial, using at first simple inplant technology to help the disabled, but soon this trend will grow to the abled bodied to give them extra sences or monitor their health.
this trend started by the supper rich will no doubt be followed by the masses, and thus a new market will open... looking at the size of microprocesors and wireless technology today and the past it will tommorow shrink to the atomic level whereby one track will be one atom wide. By the year 2050 the unmodified human race will become obselete, and kept in sanctuaries, while the cyborgs see them as stuborn wild animals. them by then would not have much of there human anotomy left untouched.
They would be able to see the world in an unimaginable number of sences and dimentions, privacy would have been forgoten long ago. And crime nonexistent as these implants would change the elctro-chemical balance in out brain making us feel happy, wanted and evolved...
Waren McColloch - pioner in the field of AI said "man to my mind is about the nastiest, most destructive of all animals. I don't see any reason, if he can evolve machines that can have more fun than he hiimself can, why they shouldn't take over, enslave us, quite happily"
Steven Hawking - theoretical scientist said " In contrast with our intelect, computers double their performance every 18 months, so the danger is real that they could develop inteligence and take over the world"
and you know the proverb... if you can't beat them join them
watch The Second Renaissance.
Built-in mechanical explosive safety devices and an EMP gun. That'll make computers toe the line.
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