Banking on the Future

We’ve all thought about the future and about how society and technology will progress in some way. Some of us even habour predictions or fears and work towards either facilitating their actuation or ensuring they don’t. A website, Long Bets, allows people to put their foresight and analysis to the test by placing a bet on an scientific occurance happening by a certain time. All betters must put their money where their mouth is by paying for the right to bet, along with adhering to rules like:

The subject of the Prediction or Bet must be societally or scientifically important.

Predictors and Bettors must provide an argument explaining why the subject of their prediction is important and why they think they will be proved right.

Some bets include:

Paul Hawken predicts: “The Bet: By 2050, we will receive intelligent signals from outside our solar system.”

Nova Spivack predicts: “By 2050 no synthetic computer nor machine intelligence will have become truly self-aware (ie. will become conscious).”

Bob Rosenberg predicts: “By the end of 2012, more than 50% of the root servers on the internet will be located outside the United States.”

I particularly enjoyed the response to Mitchell Kapor’s bet that by ‘2029 no computer – or “machine intelligence” – will have passed the Turing Test’. Ray Kurzweil is heading of the challenger community with 53% disagreeing with Kapor’s prediction. So there is alot of interesting debate on this site, as well as providing a unique insight into the current state of the scientific community and their views of the future.
What is your Long Bet?

Another Transmedia Researcher

I attended an English Department Posgraduate Seminar last Friday to check out the work of Media and Communications Department PhD student Tom Apperley. His abstract had me intrigued:

In this brief paper I try and make sense of a cluster of research around the broad topic of X-box games. This paper reconciles two threads of research; one a textual analysis of gaming genres, and the other a broad search for a suitable research method. Working on both projects – more or less – simultaneously meant that there was inevitable convergence and cross fertilizations between the threads. Much of my initial work on gaming genres involved evaluating various justifications and denials of the unique status of gaming within the mediascape. From the research of gaming genres, I suggest that X-box games should be understood as virtual pedagogical ecologies that are differentiated by degrees and interplay of performance, transformation and contextualization. This demands that X-box games not only be understood as a unique media but as a unique site in a mediated network. This dual status is informed by, and reciprocally informs the methodology of the overall project. The project, tentatively titled, ‘Rethinking Computer Games as a Trans-national Practice’ utilizes media ethnography, discursive realism and multi-modality to enrich the analysis of X-box games as texts, technologies and practices. Together they enable the development of a research paradigm that conceives X-box games as the hybrid, ephemeral and complex media objects that the textual analysis demands.

I was interested, initially in how his methodology worked but to my delight discovered he is looking at transmedia storytelling, but from the game perspective.

I’m delighted to find another researcher in this area and will post further info once I’ve chatted with Tom further…

Extreme Email

We’ve seen Extreme Sports and even Extreme Ironing but now we have Extreme Email. Jonah Brucker-Cohen has come up with an idea to study how software, specifically email list software, affects human interaction.

BumpList only allows for a maximum amount of subscribers so that when a new person subscribes, the first person to subscribe is “bumped”, or unsubscribed from the list. Once subscribed, you can only be unsubscribed if someone else subscribes and “bumps” you off. BumpList actively encourages people to participate in the list process by requiring them to subscribe repeatedly if they are bumped off.

Subscribe and subscribe again or die!

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