As Gigaom informs, touch screen devices will soon learn new finger movements. We still have so few options for interactions with gadgets, experts complain. (“How to take mobile gestures to the next level: use pitch, yaw and “the claw””, by Stacey Higginbotham, Gigaom, Oct. 23, 2014)
This has reminded me of that funny video with a little girl who tried to activate a magazine’s picture with a finger-spread movement, didn’t succeed, and started crying.
We haven’t gotten accustomed to applying new types of manipulation to… the old media yet, but this arsenal of human-device interaction tools is already being considered insufficient. Well, it really is.
As it must be (as it has been predicted by someone), our interaction with objects in induced reality has to evolve toward the natural way of people-environment interaction. We have to grab, to bite, to snuff info objects. This interaction, sooner or later, has to involve the entire human sensorium. Touch, i.e. tactility, will lead the way.
McLuhan wrote that electric media, as opposite to textual i.e. visual media, returns us to an auditory-tactile perception of reality. “Electricity is only incidentally visual and auditory; it is primarily tactile”, he noticed, and also: “tactility is the interplay of the senses”. (Understanding Media: Extensions of Man.) It is tactility that accumulates and implements the data of other sensations. Actually, the other senses are required only in order to help a biological creature to manipulate, more or less precisely, physical objects in the physical environment. Sight, hearing, smell and taste – they all are aimed to help us to grab and consume things correctly, without bumping our heads against our surroundings. Electric and now digital media return us from the flatness of Gutenberg’s text to 3D space.
A few things remain to do – to reproduce this 3D space inside the digital environment and to enable us to interact with gadgets naturally (so far as we still run a physical body).
This logic explains the further development of digital technologies. It helps us to realize why the keyboard was supplemented by the mouse and why the keyboard together with the mouse are being replaced by the touchscreen.
However, these are just the first steps. Even the promised new manipulations with touch screens still belong to the Stone Age of the Digital Era.
In what follows, as Chris Harrison explains in Gigaom’s video, аn algorithm behind the screen will be capable of eye-tracking. Then, when a human suddenly starts, for example, typing, an algorithm simply will insert typed text into the right space on the screen. Without those terrible physical efforts of placing your cursor properly. A program makes life easier. Thereafter, a gadget will start doing something in compliance with our facial expression.
It is already known that digital tools can transfer smell, warmth, or the roughness of a surface (have you heard about digital toys for remote sex?). Apparently, things are going towards operating with 3D info objects. The movie Minority report had good advisers such as John Underkoffler and other guys from the MIT Media Lab.
However, even all this is just the Bronze age of the Digital Era. The problem is that the intermediary – the media – is still required to accommodate the despicable biological body to the digital environment. In its essence, the evolution of media must lead to the ultimate elimination of media. A human and an environment have to merge entirely and without any intermediary. Back to nature, this time digital nature, being digitally naked.
The real and complete transfer of manipulation with digital objects into the digital environment will happen when humans themselves resettle into the digital world. Speaking more precisely, the digital space will be reinstalled into the expanded digital personality.
The improvement of a body, being started with a stone axe and a ritual tattoo, will finally lead to an extension of the nerve endings. But what is the need to induce physical sensations, which induce, in turn, feelings, if it would be much better to induce feelings directly? Non-invasive cognitive interfaces are already paving the way. The further things go, the more digitally naked we become: the best extensions of our nerve endings have to be attached to our nerve beginnings.
When a subject and an environment become a single whole, the environment will become the emanation of the subject. There will be no space for media. That is what the evolution of interfaces leads us to (prepares us for).
Then, the necessity of physical manipulation will disappear. Therefore, there will be no need for sensorium at all. The third signalling system will emerge, which will manipulate neither objects (as the first signalling system does), nor words (as the second signalling system does). It will manage semantic objects directly, without tactility, without language. (That is why there will be no place for tools, or media, in the future.)
Certainly, it will belong to a non-biological being.
The Word was in the beginning. The Thought will be in the end. The very powerful thought, equal to the whole world in which it will be emanated. As the word in its time, the thought will be creative, though this creativity may cause the new Big Bang (not the TV serial).
Also, alas, the new being may destroy themselves (and the whole world in passing) in the eternal, looped, self-induced high that will be the first trial for them in exploring their new almighty abilities in the very moment of Transition from us to them. (Yes, it’s about Singularity, sorry. Or Chardin’s Omega point. That will not be the end, actually; see The Sequence of Singularities.)
It is very possible that several first individuals, who reach the Transition, will go nowhere until the temperate super individual appears who will be able to overcome the testing of their emotions by their omnipotence.
…Such should be any media speculations which are sufficiently fair and long enough to reach conclusion. As Hemingway once said, every story is a tragedy; you only need to tell it fairly till the very end. In general, amen.