One of the buzzwords at technology conferences has been the so-called “Internet of Things,” which means using sensors and embedded processors to identify objects on the network through their IP addresses and thereby monitoring, controlling them, and exchanging information.
As with much technology, the full ramifications of this movement will unfold through the development of more and more connected objects exchanging data, presumably also with living things like us.
Another aspect of this, of course, is miniaturization. We have already seen how our phones have become computers with more processing power than the desktops we had a decade or so ago; indeed some of them now have the graphics capability to present virtual reality.
And while there has been much talk of nanotechnology and quantum computing, the extent to which entire operating systems can now fit on a small circuit board or even a chip is remarkable.
In a project for a friend I was tasked to research network scanners that could send documents directly to the “Cloud” — or a network location — without being connected to a PC. I was amazed to learn that there are now machines like the Kodak 730EX that have the entire Windows 8 operating system embedded within their tiny chassis.
Instruments no longer have to look anything like a computer to have the functionality of a full blown PC.
I covered 3D printers in an early article for the print version of Collective Evolution and they are progressing — but what is really intriguing now is the software.
My own foray into technology began with a fascination with 2D and then 3D animation, using programs like Autodesk 3D Studio. Within that program an entire three dimensional space existed where one could create shapes, add textures and lighting, extrude more objects, and finally animate the entire scene by moving virtual cameras or the objects themselves within the virtual environment on the screen.
It took a leap in imagination to add a “Z axis” to the normal height and width X and Y axes of the usual computer screen, and imagine a perspective from deep “within” the image out past the end user into the space “behind” her.
Again immense processing power was required to render a video at thirty frames per second with each frame “overlaying” lighting and textures onto complex objects in real time.
But this world is also being transformed by combining the methodology of 3D rendering, 3D printing, and design with more mundane computer applications like databases and flowcharts.
One of my favorite programs when I was consulting was Microsoft Visio, which allows the user to “drop” shapes onto a diagram to simulate a series of events (flowchart) or create entire designs.
What is so powerful about this program is a ShapeSheet which is really a database of all of the objects in the diagram and their attributes or “properties.” The power of this feature is immense in that, by changing a numeric value or attribute in the ShapeSheet, all of the aspects of the referenced object are simultaneously edited.
As an analogy, imagine a floor plan or blueprint for homes in a large development. Suppose that the architect or designer modified the ceramic sink in the drawing to change its material to stainless steel.
Now imagine that simultaneously all of the sinks in the actual homes in the development were altered from ceramic to stainless steel.
This feature makes Visio a powerful tool in many fields. You can create a network diagram, floor plan, or any other complex model within the program, and (within two dimensions) adjust the dimensions and properties of any object and have them immediately applied to all relevant shapes and objects in the diagram.
But now Autodesk, the makers of software for 3D printing and 3D animation, have taken this a step further in a field called “Generative Design.” I was introduced to this concept by futurist Maya Zuckerman, creator of Em’s Theory — “a multiplatform franchise for young Adults. It will be developed as a sci-fi book trilogy, graphic novel, interactive comic book, digital animated series and later as a virtual reality game.”
However this is not the future — this is here….
By merging 3D printing with a 3D modeling program that “understands” textures and materials, whatever is designed onscreen can be “printed” as a tangible object in the real world.
With 3D printers already creating houses, cars, airplanes, and yes, weapons, this brings about a connection between imagination and reality that has never existed before.
When you consider the amazing advances concurrently in supercomputers and genetics — and the fact that 3D printers can now even “print” organic material and human organs — the possibilities for playing God are truly mind boggling.
If we take a step back from these amazing scientific developments and consider that everything I have written about above comes down to only one thing — the processing of INFORMATION — the implications are truly evolutionary.
When one considers the quantum reality that everything “created” either on a computer screen or thereafter via 3D printing from the materials and configuration imagined within its processor is actually mostly empty space, with modifications made only to its (bio)physics and/or (bio)chemistry, we can get to a deep appreciation that ultimately — as physicists have been telling us — EVERYTHING IS INFORMATION.
It doesn’t take a major leap at that point to recognize that the personal “minds” that we have grown up with through our own experience are simply reflections of what must be a far more infinite and immense mind — because how can there be information without a Mind?
We have grown up generally believing that information is a function of our (human) minds — we overlay a sense of order onto the chaos we perceive as nature. But actually the opposite is true.
By recognizing the intimate connection between our own imaginations and the reality that we can thereby create through the complete synergy of chemistry, physics, and biology with our own minds, we must finally stand in awe of the field in which these perfect synergies play out — a field that must itself be conscious and intelligent.
As our machines evolve and grow more intelligent and conscious, so must we, in recognition that we and the objects created “in our image” can only exist due to the perfection of mathematics and information — and therefore according to principles of an immensely powerful and infinite Mind.
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