If You Want the Future, Look to the Hackers

Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins is at SXSW and will filing reports for The Inquisitr while he’s there.

What’s the future? Is it Minority Report? Is it The Matrix? Depending on which futurist you talk to, it could be one or the other (or both).

The panel I attended early Friday afternoon showed compelling evidence that we’re living in a world of Minority Report meets Cyberpunk – if the realities of those fictional worlds aren’t here yet, they will be in a matter of moments. Why, then, are we still amazed by the things we see in HP commercials and Microsoft concept demos?

Because they’re just on the edge of what’s possible, and because they reflect a polished presentation that doesn’t seem to mesh with the reality of how such innovation is happening in this world.

One of the panelists told a mind-blowing story about a company he’s working with that is literally creating working brain-jacks. He described the installation process in vivid detail. These folks drilled a hole into each human recipient’s brain, and inserted a spherical piece of glass, hollowed and filled with fetal stem cells. He said that the wiring was affixed to the stem cell glass, and when it was all sealed up, they allowed the connections to organically grow to the installed jack.

This is something that’s happening now, and while it sounds highly illegal (another panelist even said as much), it’s apparently true. The reality of innovation, though, is far less grotesque and needs very little invasive surgery.

Repeatedly, the efforts of Johnny Lee were brought up.

If you haven’t seen his work, you should. He’s Minority Report style interfaces by simply hacking the Nintendo Wii.

I see a lot of these things come through my radar as I write about advancements in robotics at my blog. Sure, there are lots of interesting bots and developments that come from the big guys like Honda and Sony, but for each news story concerning the Aibo or the Asimo there are ten homebrewed projects that create near-military grade robots using home-grown parts.

The panel was very interesting, and there were more than a few riveting videos of filmmaker perceptions of the future using currently feasible technology, but the bottom line seemed to be that if you want to see the future, you need to look to the hackers of today.

Mark Rizzn Hopkins writes for Silicon Angle and his own blog Rizzn.com.