Vernor Vinge on the promise, progress and threats of Augmented Reality

Vernor Vinge discusses (and critiques) the current world of Augmented Reality and thinks about what the future of AR and social networks holds for everyday people. Vinge's 2006 novel Rainbows End is a stellar piece of speculation about this, one of the best, most thought-provoking sf novels I've ever read (it's available as a print book and a free download).

There are nebulous and fairly high likelihood answers: AR apps that let each person/team see those aspects of physical reality that are important for their current activity. Pointing technologies that coordinate with that AR vision. The combination is a revolution of interfaces, and the probable physical disappearance of more and more of the gadgets that twentieth century people associated with high tech.

There are also more specific, spectacular, and necessarily uncertain impacts (that depend on social acceptance and the development of network infrastructure for consensual sharing of local imagery).

o Economic disruption of the trend toward huge, expensive display devices.

o Bottom up social networking, arising from GPL'd tools. I see this as very disruptive, in good, bad and arguable ways, as illustrated by descriptive terms such as "consumer protection clubs", "belief circles" and "lifestyle cults". Some of these could be as public as our topdown social networks. Some might be quiet and widespread, perhaps growing out of pre-existing groups that already have a lot of intermember trust. (See:

o More farfetched, but in the tradition of the last 50 years: the digitization of external visual design: building architecture could give less priority to physical appearance and more to cheap physical strength, network access support, and physical modifiability.

Interview with Vernor Vinge: Smart phones and Empowering Aspects of Social Networks & Augmented Reality Still Massively Underhyped

(via Beyond the Beyond)