Ideas Day

Mac Dunlop: contextual digital ideas

"There are so many issues, and some of them are about access. I was reminded, talking to my nephew, who's just finished high school, about what he wanted to do, and he said, I'm taking a course in robotics. And I said, Wow, robotics, Ludlum, Isaac Asimov, that's fantastic! At the time we were in the car park. And he said No, what I mean is like, you see that barrier there that automatically lifts up when a car drives up to it? And then goes down again? That's robotics."

"Of course it is, something happens, and it's not on a screen, it's not inside a computer, something happens and it's automatic and that's simply what robotics is, and that's also what digital technology is driving. We are in a sense already surrounded by digital technology."

"I wanted to apply that to a product, to something that's very commercial and it's happening right here in Bristol in the HP research lab - one of the big things they're really interested in is quite an unusual term: Ubiquity. Ubiquitous. To be everywhere. And what is driving the industry of digital technology at the moment is the idea that in the near future, everything will have a little computer in it."

"So we have the terminology, 'ubiquity'. And that's what's supposed to happen. And of course, as people have been pointing out, what's supposed to be happening with digital technology in our world and what actually is happening are two very different things. Because to be ubiquitous, the first thing you need is to have the energy source that drives the computers that run on electricity. If you don't have that you're not likely to be living in a digitally ubiquitous world."

"How we see the world, how we experience it, there's always this ongoing dialogue, whether what we see that's Real Life can fit in this box that's not. Or whether that box simply makes everything different, and to make stuff for IN the box, you have to make stuff FOR the box, that doesn't necessarily relate to our lives. Maybe it contradicts our lives, maybe it makes us sit in front of computers too much. Maybe it's apathy, maybe it's lethargy."

The Game: "So let's go out into the RL, the real life, as opposed to the VR." For a walk.

"Mr. Watson - he's nicknamed Spider - now he's not using any electricity, got no running water, and he's threatened with eviction, they say they're gonna move him on. But he's right next to the place where we've been chatting, having a cup of coffee, and got all our computers lined up in a row and all our internet connection and our robots letting us in and out of the building - so I don't really have anything more to say than that, but as a contextual digital idea, that's the one I start with."

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