The Crowd: Aliens and Visors and Meebits, Oh My [240]

Hi Crowd!

Well, this week has been a bit crazy hasn't it? Let's jump right in.

I haven't personally fact checked this, but at first glance it seems like aliens are real and the government knows about them. That feels like it would be a crazy thing to say 10 years ago but now it's just a Tuesday. In case you missed it, the investigative reporting team that broke the story in 2017 about the Pentagon's secret UFO program, which the govt later confirmed, are behind this new story which is even more explosive. The short version is that a former intelligence officer has filed a credible whistle blower claim that the US government has in it's possession intact crafts of "non-human origin" and has for many years been actively hiding this information from other departments within the govt. This doesn't appear to be some wacko making baseless claims, it's an internal filing and it's being taken seriously and being reviewed by congress. Wow.

This potentially monumental world changing news which changes our understanding of the universe was completely overshadowed by the new Apple VR Goggles. Which are awesome!

We all knew this was coming and yet still weren't ready for it. Let me slice through the noise for you. In 2007 I was at the LA launch on the iPhone and it was nothing like I'd ever experienced. People were calling it the "Jesus phone" because it promised to do everything and buying into it required some level of faith in the impossible. Haters, and there were many, were mocking the true believers relentlessly. What kind of an idiot pays 4x as much as every other mobile phone for one without buttons? These were the days when the ultimate mobile device status symbol was a full keyboard Nokia or a flip up Sidekick. But that day in LA people might as well have been attending a resurrection. There was a feeling of awe and wonder, and how everything had just changed but we didn't know how or where it would take us.

Look no further than how phone design changed after that moment to see the impact, but it wasn't just about design - it was about use. Apple changed not just the device, or what we did with it but how we used it and how that changed the way we interact with the world around us. It was a earth moving moment. Apple is good at that. When everyone else is putting out the same comfortable thing as everyone else, Apple has consistently pushed things in uncomfortable directions that end up being the future that everyone else follows. Hate all you want, but it's true. Killing off disk drives, SCSI ports, CD drives, etc etc etc - they took the steps to move things forward, dragging everyone else kicking and screaming with them.

So Vision Pro comes out. Everyone has known Apple was working on VR for years, just like everyone knew they were working on a phone even though they denied it repeatedly. And people are focusing on the hardware and missing the context shift. This isn't a just a competitor to whatever Oculus device is all the rage right now, it's a reimagining of how people interact with computers. Oldsters on this list might remember the days when we'd talk about "going online" because we still had a delineation in our understanding of what was online and what was offline. Now we are all online all time, ever where, and it's just a question of where our attention or focus is at the moment. Positioning this as an Augmented Reality device rather than a Virtual Reality device is that step. This isn't a novelty that you'll use for some weird metaverse experience, it's meant to augment what you are doing all day, like how our phones are now an ever present part of everything we do. If you are focusing on the price or how they look you are missing the plot entirely. It's not about the device, it's about how the device and the software change the way we think about things, and about how this will force all the other companies to follow suit. You may not rush out on day one to get this, but chances are it won't be too long until you'll have something that covers many of the same bases.

That's about to be the most meemed image this month. NGL, the projected eye thing is a little creepy and I hope very soon you'll be able to customize that with different eyes like big anime eyes or laser robot eyes or just VR googles from your favorite pixel NFT collection.

Most of you know I'm not a big fan of making predictions as most are just fantastical masturbation, but here's where I see this going:

• People start using goggles more than monitors, and eventually dump monitors all together. We threw out our TV when we got a 4k HD projector and have never looked back. No big screen taking up space in the living room, but a massive movie screen when we want it. I can see the same thing happening in offices and homes everywhere.
• The goggles get lighter and smaller and in before long become just glasses, or as sci-fi writier Daniel Suarez called them in Delta V, Crystals. He was writing about a near future space ship control room that instead of a massive Star Trek array or screens and monitors, simply had glasses that each crew member wore which surfaced the displays they needed right in front of them. This is basically what Apple showed off yesterday.
• Some people are talking about implants which I don't think is realistic, I thing Suarez was again right and what he described in Change Agent where mini projectors identify your eyes and project custom displays directly into them is more likely. Everyone in the room having their personalized display shot right into their eyes.
• I see Disney and all the other partners selling digital items that you can equip or deploy while watching movies and things to becomes more a part of it. Those will be NFTs and paid for with crypto, but no one will know it because Apple will come up with a better name.
• Fanfic and custom story telling is going to blow up thats to integrated AI. You'll be able, with a simple prompt, to request a sequel to any film and minutes later be watching it. I mean, Rob, Roope and I came up with half a dozen sequels to a a 1980's B flick in a matter of minutes the other night. This will of course be driven by porn.
• Actors and celebs who embrace it early are going to get crazy rich by unlocking a whole new revenue stream licensing their likenesses out for these on demand created videos. Any event, story, or experience you can imagine, custom made for you, on the fly, and delivered to you in seconds to the privacy of your own home.
• This won't stop people from using unlicensed likenesses left and right which will lead to significant debate about "consensual" likeness usages and we'll see people suggesting that private fantasies can or should somehow be approved by others, as if that's even remotely enforceable. This is basically the high tech version of the old 80's teen movie cliche of taping cut out faces from yearbooks into porn mags. You just wait.
• Apple is leading with their commitment to privacy (and have already defended that in court), but everyone else who will follow Apple isn't likely to make the same commitments or worse will see that as a side revenue stream, so expect a lot of bad things to happen.

One thing about all this which I think is super interesting, is that this is yet another reminder of bubbles we're all in. If you look around for people talking about this, much like people talking about AI or Crypto or anything else a little bit controversial I guess - you see people talking from the perspective and implied assumption that their view is the majority opinion. At least they they are on the "good" side of the story. This brings me to a little story about crypto and dreams. Japan was early into crypto but after the MtGox hack locked everything down so basically the entire country missed the last bull/bear cycle. So no one there lost money, no politicians tried to politicize it, there were no cryptobros making people feel creepy or hipsters lashing back at them. Now that Japan is embracing crypto most people have a very positive view on it. The average person on the street, if asked, will say Crypto is this cool new tech that does fun stuff. Very small chance of finding the "it's a scam destroying the world" view. Which creates the opportunity for something like this. A 27 year old commercial airline pilot who was saddened by COVID restrictions negatively impacting his industry, inspired by Meebits, decided to start making art. He made these pilot characters by hand for people, 500 all in all, and wrote about how he hoped that through art he could help heal the airline industry and then create world peace. Yes, that's outlined in his manifesto as a roadmapped goal. Yes that's potentially a big step, but he was 27 and idealistic so give the guy his dreams will you? Anyway, this was a few years ago, and he kept on keeping on and then just last week, ANA - the largest airline in Japan - launched their own NFT martketplace and collection and wouldn't you know it but this guy helped them do it and is making more pilot characters for them. Talk about making your dreams come true. So now onto the world peace thing I guess.

I have more to say about various thrilling topics but I'm also getting called by my kid to go get dinner so he wins over you. I hope you are well, regardless. More soon, or later.


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