Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Liquid Dreams

Remember the scene from James Cameron's movie 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' where the T-1000 spreads himself out onto a checkerboard floor, even adopting the pattern on his own body?

For me this scene is an incredibly strong symbol for future technology: liquid technology literally arises from flat, logical technology. Where the checkerboard stands for logic, flatness, and dualisms, qualities that can be found in most modern products like mobile phones, liquid technology would be the next step. It can adopt these old qualities, showed by the T-1000 'empathizing' with it like a chameleon before showing what it can do more: it can put itself in any shape, and become more human. For me, future technology should fulfill the dream not of creating T-1000-like technologies, but of becoming the T-1000. That is, liquidly extend the human body so we can do or be anything we want to do or be.

Where you could see this as an ordinary science-fiction film from the cyberpunk era, please regard that science fiction often becomes science fact, and all human developments ultimately stem from some dream, whether we are conscious about it or not. My dream is to become our technology (we are, already, in a sense; the coupling just becomes increasingly intimate). I lately dreamed I literally was a train that could morph into an aircraft, and I can tell you it is pretty amazing, even while my subconscious simulation was not very convincing yet.

Now the reason for this post is that something incredible struck me, having thought that I had seen everything already. David Gallo is a deep sea explorer, and showed footage of squids during his talk on Ted.com. The one on the end is simply mind-blowing: it actually can change the characteristics of its skin (even the texture!) in order to seamlessly blend into the environment, even make itself look like a piece of coral. This, together with other developments, like new understandings of the mechanisms of the mind, and the concept of Foglets, gives me more and more hope that once we can create similar systems. I want that skin. I want it I want it I want it!

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