Communion Of Dreams


Obscure, but mildly interesting.

Interesting item I started working on yesterday for one of my clients:

1804

Which led me to do a bit of digging, since I hadn’t been aware that the Indiana Territory had once been the governmental body for the Louisiana Purchase territory. And, in fairness, it wasn’t for very long — the District of Louisiana existed for just about 9 months. On July 4, 1805 things were turned over to the new governmental body of the Louisiana Territory.

Which explains something about the item above: it was printed in observation of the centennial of that change. Here’s the obverse of that page:

1905

So it’s only 110 years old (which I could tell from the binding), not 210 years old. Still a pretty rare item, though — note that there were only 50 copies printed, and I’m sure at least a few have been lost to time. Meaning that it is more rare than the Gutenberg Bible (of which only about 48 copies remain).

Interesting, though obscure, bit of history I thought I would share.

 

Jim Downey



Let your fingers do the dancing.

From the beginning of Chapter 6:

There was just one other person in the room, standing at the side of the holo platform, hands dancing over a control board only he could see.

* * *

Jon looked to the dance Ng’s hands played in the air. “About ready?”

Ng said nothing, but just his fingers tapped a command in the air. Instantly, there appeared an image above the holo projector. It was the artifact, pretty much exactly as Jon remembered it from the first meeting a week ago.

There are many such passages in Communion of Dreams, just part of the augmented reality technology which exists at the time of the book. The basic explanation is that the user is wearing contact lenses which allow one to see a virtual reality overlay on the real world, and then within that overlay you can manipulate virtual objects/controls thanks to hand-tracking. When I wrote the book I figured that such technology would be available eventually …

… and here it is, even sooner than I expected:

Google’s new finger control technology is straight out of a science fiction movie

* * *

The company’s lab for advanced projects showed off new technology on Friday that lets users move their fingers in the air to control objects in the virtual world.

It’s called Project Soli, and it uses radar waves to detect precise finger movements or finger “micromotions.”

The result is something that looks like it’s from a science-fiction movie such as Minority Report or Her, in which characters manipulated virtual objects by gracefully moving their hands or fingers in the air.

Bingo.

 

Jim Downey



The power to forgive.

As I have said previously:

… I have tried my very best to forget him. It was that, or succumb to the hatred that threatened to define my life.

For a while I tried forgiveness, since that is supposed to be liberating. When I say “for a while,” I mean for years. But I failed. There are some things that cannot be forgiven, at least for me.

 

Others are, perhaps, better than I:

During an emotional courtroom scene, family members of some of the victims gave statements, many saying they forgave the shooter and calling on him to repent his sins.

“I just wanted everybody to know, to you, I forgive you,” a daughter of Ethel Lance, 70, one of the nine people killed at Emanuel AME church on Wednesday night said. “You took something very precious away from me.

“You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But I forgive you. I forgive you,” she said.

 

That is a power which baffles me, bewilders me, but also leaves me in quiet awe. Good for them.

 

Jim Downey



Net worth.

“Here ya go!” said the salesman with almost sincere enthusiasm as he handed the key fob across the desk to me. “Your Googel AutoDrive Sedan is ready and waiting!”

“Thanks,” I said, with little desire to mask my exhaustion. I hated buying cars. I took the fob, stood up to go.

“Oh, one last thing …”

I cringed. Looked at him. He still had a gleam in his eye. Which I knew meant he hadn’t finished toying with me yet. “Yes?”

“In going through your profile, I noted that your credit score was … a tad low.” His smile widened just a bit.

“So? I financed it through MegaLoan. You got your money.”

“Well, yes,” he said. “But I wasn’t talking about the financing … ”

I waited to see where this was going. I was sure it wasn’t going to be someplace I liked.

He didn’t disappoint me. His smile broadened even more. “As you know, the AutoDrive system is programmed to consider every possible factor in road safety and benefit to society — in full accordance with all relevant laws.”

“Yes?”

“Well … how shall I put this … your low credit score means that in some situations, AutoDrive may elect to …” he paused to savor the effect “… maximize the benefits to society in the event of an accident.”

“Sorry?”

“Well, if the situation warrants, someone who has a better credit score … who provides a greater benefit to society, as shown by their assets and wealth creation … may be deemed less expendable than you are.”

“WHAT?!?!?!”

I had hoped my outrage would startle him. Instead, he licked his lips. “Now, now, not to worry. There’s an easy way to mitigate the chances of that happening.”

I sighed. “How much?”

“Well, we have a Net Worth insurance policy we offer which will indemnify society against loss of more valuable citizens, available on a sliding scale …”

 

 

Jim Downey



The difference 30 minutes makes.

As part of this project I wrote about last week, I have a number of letters which needed to be cleaned. So after testing them for water-stability (of the ink), I sandwiched the individual sheets in an open weave polyester fabric and immersed them in distilled water to literally wash them. Here’s the “before” pic:

Starting

And here’s 30 minutes later, after some mild massaging and shifting around the stacks to get good water flow over them:

30 minutes later

Notice how much crud has already been released from the sheets after just that short period of time, as can be seen from the color of the water.

I’ll massage the sheets some more in the morning, then change the water and repeat the process for another day or so. If the water is looking OK 24 hours after that, I’ll take out the supported sheets and let them dry. If it is still dark, then I’ll repeat the process again (and again after that, if necessary … distilled water is cheap). The goal is to remove as much of the crud as possible in this gentle way — remember, paper is born in water, and doesn’t mind getting wet again, so long as you do it correctly.

Just thought I’d share that.

 

Jim Downey



Well, however you get there, I suppose …

Via Topless Robot, this article/video from the New York Times:

Sex Dolls That Talk Back

Matt McMullen has proved that some people are willing to spend thousands on sex dolls.

* * *
Mr. McMullen’s new project, which he is calling Realbotix, is an attempt to animate the doll. He has assembled a small team that includes engineers who have worked for Hanson Robotics, a robotics lab that produces shockingly lifelike humanoid robots.

Mr. McMullen is first focusing on developing convincing artificial intelligence, and a robotic head that can blink and open and close its mouth. He’s also working to integrate other emerging technologies, like a mobile app that acts like a virtual assistant and companion, and virtual reality headsets that can be used separately or in tandem with the physical doll.

 

It’s accepted wisdom that many new technologies come into their own and are quickly disseminated through the public when a way can be found to use them for sex and/or the depictions of same. Printing. VHS tapes. DVDs. The internet. Smartphone Apps like Tinder or Grindr.

So why not artificial intelligence?

Which isn’t the way I saw the technology for an expert system/assistant like Seth developing, but hey, I suppose whatever works …

 

Jim Downey



Another look in the crystal ball …

From Chapter 14 of Communion of Dreams:

“No problems with either hand since your incident with the artifact?”

“No. They were sore last night when I first woke up, but I figured that was due to the shock or whatever it was.”

She nodded. “You know how the palmkey is installed and works, right?”

“Yeah, sure. It’s a thin film injected just under the skin, forms a fluid web across the palm that is programmed to function as a close-range transceiver. Simple enough.”

News item this morning:

A Flexible Circuit Has Been Injected Into Living Brains

What if the next gadget for sending messages to your friends wasn’t a watch strapped to your wrist or a phone stuffed in your pocket—but an electronic device embedded in your brain? Now, a new kind of flexible circuit has brought us one step closer to this science fiction future. Implanted via injection, a grid of wires only a few millimeters across can insinuate itself with living neurons and eavesdrop on their chatter, offering a way for electronics to interface with your brain activity.

“We’re trying to blur the distinction between electronic circuits and neural circuits,” says Charles Lieber, a nanotechnologist at Harvard University and co-author of a study describing the device this week in Nature Nanotechnology.

OK, not exactly the same thing … but pretty damned close. I’m going consider that another prediction come true.

 

Jim Downey