Hyper Reality at ESC Silicon Valley 2017

October 13, 2017

Max The Magnificent-October 13, 2017

It's hard to be precise, but what we now refer to as the Industrial Revolution kicked off sometime around 1760 (it may have been 9:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, but then again, maybe not).

When did the Industrial Revolution officially end? Well, if you'd asked me last week, I'd have said it never really ended, but that just goes to show how little I know. I now discover that it was officially over sometime between 1820 and 1840, although I'm not sure who is in charge of this sort of thing.

"But what came after the Industrial Revolution?" I hear you cry. I'm glad you asked. It turns out that the First Industrial Revolution was followed by the Second Industrial Revolution (of course, how obvious, and how silly of me not to know this). Also known as the Technological Revolution, the Second Industrial Revolution continued until the start of the First World War in 1914. And what came after the Second Industrial Revolution? I'm scared to ask.

The point is that, even after the First Industrial Revolution had really started rolling along, I bet that no one had a clue as to what was coming down the pike and how everybody's lives were going to be changed.

Similarly, as we stand on the threshold of a brave new world featuring artificial intelligence, deep learning, cognitive (thinking, reasoning) systems, and augmented reality, to name but a few, I don’t think that we have any idea what's heading our way.

Have you read Existence by David Brin? I think this provides an interesting take on an augmented reality future (amongst many other things). Also, do you remember this video from my column A brave new world of virtual, augmented, hybrid, hyper, and diminished realities?

I feel like the kid in the movie The Sixth Sense -- I see futuristic technologies everywhere. To offer just a few examples...

The folks at XMOS now have the capability to take an entire "cocktail party" sound space comprising multiple speakers and multiple noise sources, disassemble the space, and identify, isolate, monitor, and track all of the speakers all of the time in real-time.

A Canadian AI startup company called Lyrebird have a tool that can analyze a few seconds of someone talking and use this to generate a unique signature. This signature can subsequently be employed to generate any speech, mimicking its corresponding voice, augmented with any desired emotion.

On the bright side, the folks at DT R&D have created a neural network called Anti AI AI that has been trained to tell the difference between real and synthetic voices, and to notify its owner when a synthetic voice is detected. On the one hand, this will allow humans to detect when they are talking to an artificial intelligence; on the other hand, our future robot overlords will be able to employ the same technology to identify a human pretending to be an artificial intelligence (my head hurts)

Do you remember the days before Photoshop when people could say something like, "A picture never lies," without laughing? Well, at least we can trust video, or not, as the case might be. It turns out that researchers at the university of Washington have developed algorithms that can take an audio clip (possibly one generated by Lyrebird), then take an existing video of a person talking about something completely different, and combine the two to generate a realistic lip-synched video of the person saying whatever you want him to say. Take a look at this video showing the technology being applied to videos of former president Barack Obama.

The thing is that new technologies are now racing toward us at such a rate that it's difficult to stay on top of everything. Of course, there is one place where all is explained and made clear -- the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in Silicon Valley.

This auspicious occasion will be taking place December 5-7, 2017, at the San Jose Convention Center, and yours truly will be presenting a paper -- Advanced Technologies for 21st Century Embedded Systems -- that will discuss all of the aforementioned topics in excruciating detail.

Be warned that we will be leaping from topic-to-topic with the agility of young, fearless mountain goats, so I urge members of the audience to make sure they're wearing appropriate clothing!

Will you be attending ESC Silicon Valley? If so, and if you see me ambling around, stop me to say "Hi!" I'll be the one in the Hawaiian shirt. As always, all you have to do is shout "Max, Beer!" or "Max, Bacon!" to be assured of my undivided attention.

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