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Are we living in a Mirrorworld? (asks Kevin Kelly, with reference to Magic Leap)

Kevin Kelly has an interesting new post about AR (Augmented Reality) and how that may become the next big tech platform. He calls it the “Mirrorworld”, Other experts refer to this phenomenon as “Spacial Computing“.

Kevin Kelly was WIREDs founding executive editor, and is the author of many great books, including What Technology Wants; New Rules for the New Economy; and Out Of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World.

“The mirrorworld—a term first popularized by Yale computer scientist David Gelernter—will reflect not just what something looks like but its context, meaning, and function. We will interact with it, manipulate it, and experience it like we do the real world.

A good example of spacial computing is Magic Leap, a headset, portal, and ecosystem that provides superior augmented reality experiences. Check out Adam Savage‘s box-unpacking and experience in this short video snippet:

Looking at wales swimming outside his apartment, he described the experience as transformative:

“But the experience I had was really transformative….. That feels to me like the future”

If you get worried about the surveillance state today, wait until this technology reaches the masses. Kevin Kelly does a great job describing the choices that will have to be made, and the enormous privacy and other digital ethics issues this brings.

“We are now at the dawn of the third platform, which will digitize the rest of the world. On this platform, all things and places will be machine-­readable, subject to the power of algorithms. Whoever dominates this grand third platform will become among the wealthiest and most powerful people and companies in history, just as those who now dominate the first two platforms have. Also, like its predecessors, this new platform will unleash the prosperity of thousands of more companies in its ecosystem, and a million new ideas—and problems—that weren’t possible before machines could read the world. Everything connected to the internet will be connected to the mirrorworld. And anything connected to the mirrorworld will see and be seen by everything else in this interconnected environment. Watches will detect chairs; chairs will detect spreadsheets; glasses will detect watches, even under a sleeve; tablets will see the inside of a turbine; turbines will see workers around them. Unfortunately, it is not too difficult to imagine scenarios where the mirrorworld is extensively centralized, perhaps by a government. We still have a choice about this.”

The mirrorworld will raise major privacy concerns. It will, after all, contain a billion eyes glancing at every point, converging into one continuous view. The mirrorworld will create so much data, big data, from its legions of eyes and other sensors, that we can’t imagine its scale right now. To make this spatial realm work—to synchronize the virtual twins of all places and all things with the real places and things, while rendering it visible to millions—will require tracking people and things to a degree that can only be called a total surveillance state. Eventually, everything will have a digital twin.

Gerd Leonhard highlighted this challenge in chapter-3 of his book “Technology vs. Humanity” as part of the Megashifts.

“Within ten years, I would venture that using AR and VR will become as normal as using WhatsApp is today. That is both an exhilarating and a scary thought: At that point, who is to say what is real and what is not…”

Related video by Gerd:

This post is co-produced by The Futures Agency’s content curator Petervan.

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