A Glimpse into the New World

Tech authors and futurists Robert Scoble and Shel Israel predict augmented reality will change life as we know it


Tech author duo Robert Scoble and Shel Israel gave a joint GEOINT Symposium keynote Tuesday previewing what they referred to as the arrival of “the new world.”

Scoble and Israel’s latest book, The Fourth Transformation: How Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Change Everything, examines the unavoidable evolution of business, entertainment, sports, medicine, shopping, and more as a result of reality-altering technologies.

The pair has predicted major transformations before—like the necessity of social media in business—but this paradigm shift, Israel said, “will change the world more fundamentally than has ever happened before in digital history.”


Keynote: “The Fourth Transformation” by authors and futurists Robert Scoble and Shel Israel from Trajectory On Location on Vimeo.

“What is very clear,” said Scoble, “is that our entire world is going to be copied.”

That virtual copy will become the center of a new user interface that takes location-based technology a step further, recognizing the exact parameters of the environment around a user and altering it for any variety of purposes.

3D sensor platforms such as Google Tango, as well as the impending rise of 5G communications, add an element of real-time environmental analysis for seamless integration of visual data with the real world. For example, an app for the Microsoft HoloLens headset, called Actiongram, lays 3D holograms including dinosaurs, zombies, or even internet celebrity “grumpy cat” over a user’s view. Scoble himself kicked off the keynote wearing a HoloLens.

The concept of the fourth transformation primarily encompasses technology, but it examines society as well.

“Technology is changing the behavior of younger generations. We renamed generation Z into the Minecraft generation,” Israel said. “They’re thinking in 3D.”

The next generation’s expectations for learning and shopping have changed, and businesses must adjust how they cater to customers.

Walmart, for example, has begun using virtual reality to train hundreds of thousands of employees. Lowes offers a “Holoroom” home improvement simulator that lets users virtually remodel and choose appliances before purchase. Facebook has taken a big step as well, recently re-branding from a social network to an “AI social platform.” That openness, Scoble said, implies a good deal about how the world will soon change.

According to Scoble, the way humans interact with technology is evolving too, as evidenced by eye tracking interface startup Eyefluence. Instead of tapping an icon on their smartphone screen, Eyefluence enables users to navigate with their eyes to send an email or watch a video. In addition, he predicted, biometrics and cornea recognition will transform personal security.

10 years ago, the world Scoble and Israel spoke of was confined to science fiction literature. Today, surgeons can walk around inside a 24-foot, 3D model of a human heart with a congenital issue to find the defect before ever invading a living body. Friends on opposite sides of the world can play a game of Frisbee with ease using augmented reality.

Intelligence Community, take note: interactive data is being offered and consumed in a vastly new way, and the spatial boundaries of the world are dissolving.

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