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May, 14 2017

Poetical Science and the Fourth Transformation

I just finished reading “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson. A while ago I read “The Fourth Transformation” by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. When you put these two seminal works into the context of recent developments in AR, movies, studios and Telco’s, it becomes clear that we really are at the beginning of a fundamental transition from 2D screen and web based man-machine interfaces to a future of augmented, virtual and other reality.

Isaacson is the CEO of the Aspen Institute, a former chairman of CNN and editor of Time. That CV speaks for itself. He has had the benefit of living the beginning of the web and all its digital impact on the publishing business, plus interviewing many of the people in the book. One of his key themes is the power of collaboration between technology and the arts. The other is that very little of real value is created alone, in isolation. He sums it up beautifully in the final paragraphs of his book:

This interplay between, technology and the arts will eventually result in completely new forms of expression and formats of media. This innovation will come from people who are able to link beauty to engineering, humanity to technology, and poetry to processors. In other words, it will come from the spiritual heirs of Ada Lovelace, creators who can flourish where the arts intersect with the sciences and who have a rebellious sense of wonder that opens them to the beauty of both.

Hence the title “POETICAL science” and the accompanying DaVinci image in his book and above. Warner Bros say EXACTLY the same thing in their AR production patent:

[It’s also going to be] “desirable to develop…new methods.. for [producing and distributing] cinematic content for VR and AR, that… enhance the appeal and enjoyment of narrative content for new immersive technolo­gies such as VR and AR.”

This isn’t going to come from someone working alone in his or her bedroom. It probably isn’t going to come from any single organisation, even Warners. Their patent is co-authored by a producer, a tech guy, an animation guy and a tech production guy. Only 2 of them work directly for Warners.

According to Steve Blank, one of the founders of the Lean Startup methodology, “A company is a permanent organization designed to execute a repeatable and scalable business model. Once you understand that existing companies are designed to execute then you can see why they have a hard time with continuous and disruptive innovation.

The innovation is going to come from people and organisations co-operating across disciplines and across boundaries. Network engineers co-operating with interface designers. Designers who are also gamers. Developers who are psychologists. Cameramen co-operating with AR designers. Studios co-operating with media co’s and Telco’s. Distributors co-operating with technologists to reinvent entertainment and work, how we interact with it and how it is distributed. Taking the best of what works now and transforming it into the future of work, art and entertainment.

This innovation is being enabled by convergence in several key technical areas: the next generation of FinFET silicon architecture that is enabling massive increases in power and decreases in size of graphical computing appliances; quantum leaps in security with DRM embedded in that silicon; rapid advances and investment in AR, VR and MR; new forms of social media; and innovations in network technology, appliances and architecture that overcome the current limitations of distributing and playing the massive AR/VR files at 4K HDR quality via the Internet. Isaacson says the same thing of the innovators in his book: they were enabled by multiple concurrent advances in technology that opened the door to the modern Internet age. A new door is being opened into the “ARnet” age. Let’s all walk through it together.

Rhett Sampson, CEO & CTO, GT Systems
This article originally appeared on



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