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Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit

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  • Eliezer Yudkowsky
    ... I am afraid you are not familiar with the various definitions of the Singularity, or with, in particular, Vinge s definition of it.
    Message 1 of 14 , Oct 4, 2008
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      On Sat, Oct 4, 2008 at 7:22 PM, Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...> wrote:
      > Hello all. If you haven't already heard, I'm back in Berkeley again, at least until the election, and I look forward to seeing all of you at the next Salon.
      >
      > I've also just posted an essay to the Future Salon blog. It's pasted below, but go to the blog for better formatting, and hypertext links:
      >
      > http://www.futuresalon.org/2008/10/the-so-called-s.html
      >
      > The problem is, AGI is not the definition of a singularity. Not, at least, according to the coiner of that term, Vernor Vinge.

      I am afraid you are not familiar with the various definitions of the
      Singularity, or with, in particular, Vinge's definition of it.

      http://www.singinst.org/blog/2007/09/30/three-major-singularity-schools/

      > But one thing is pretty clear: if you have questions about the viability of this Drexlerian path to the next singularity, the so-called Singularity Summit is not the place to take them.

      Since its inception, the Singularity Summit has invited prominent
      thinkers and people with interesting thoughts about the Singularity
      without regard for whether they are skeptics. A review of past
      speakers will readily confirm this.

      --
      Eliezer Yudkowsky
      Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
    • Wayne Radinsky
      ... I m in Colorado, but I ll reply to your essay anyway :) ... Our friend here in Boulder, Doug Robertson, uses the term phase change to describe this
      Message 2 of 14 , Oct 4, 2008
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        On Sat, Oct 4, 2008 at 7:22 PM, Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...> wrote:
        > Hello all. If you haven't already heard, I'm back in Berkeley
        > again, at least until the election, and I look forward to seeing
        > all of you at the next Salon.

        I'm in Colorado, but I'll reply to your essay anyway :)

        > The problem is, AGI is not the definition of a singularity. Not,
        > at least, according to the coiner of that term, Vernor Vinge.
        > This much is recognized by at least one of the SIAI luminaries,
        > Robin Hanson, whose article "Economics of the Singularity", in
        > the IEEE Spectrum "Special Report: The Singularity" issue of June
        > of this year, explained that the coming singularity is not the
        > first time such an epochal event will occur, but is rather at
        > least the third time in human experience. The first clear
        > precedent is the shift from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to
        > agrarianism, and the second is the industrial revolution. In both
        > cases, a discontinuity appears that is so abrupt, and so
        > dramatic, that the previous history provides essentially no basis
        > at all for predicting beyond that transition, effectively
        > creating a startlingly opaque prediction horizon, seemingly
        > impenetrable by any other predictive technique than prophetic
        > vision.

        Our friend here in Boulder, Doug Robertson, uses the term "phase
        change" to describe this transition -- a transition to something
        that could not be predicted based on the preceding history,
        analogous to how if you heat ice, at some point it will "phase
        change" to water and the behavior of water can't be predicted by
        the behavior of ice.

        I like the term "phase change" because it doesn't imply infinity,
        or anything. I use the term "singularity", too, but I always
        precede it with a precise definition. So people will know, at
        least for purposes of that piece, what definition of
        "singularity" is in use.

        > But in that same article, Hanson spends surprisingly little time
        > entertaining any alternative hypotheses for what could produce
        > the next singularity, other than AGI. He explains why AGI would
        > clearly produce a singularity, and I agree completely. But is
        > that really the only horse in the race, today?

        Artificial general intelligence (AGI) would cause a phase change,
        at least in my estimation. My line of reasoning is that once AGI
        exists, all jobs get automated, and the job market ceases to
        exist. Hanson actually hints at this numerous times, when he says
        things like, "When machines get cheaper or smarter or both, the
        water level rises, as it were, and the shore moves inland." But
        he seems unwilling (like most people) to follow the idea all the
        way to its logical conclusion, which is that the water level
        keeps rising until all islands are submerged.

        But, I still give Hanson credit giving the idea any consideration.

        > Another article in the same IEEE special report appears to
        > provide the answer. In "Ray Kurzweil and Neil Gershenfeld: Two
        > Paths to the Singularity", Tekla S. Perry notes two apparently
        > oppositional visions of the future: "Gershenfeld's future in
        > which computers collapse and simply become part of reality, and
        > Kurzweil's future in which reality as we know it collapses and
        > simply becomes part of computers." Gershenfeld, you may recall,
        > discussed and demonstrated Personal Fabrication at the April 2005
        > Future Salon, 3.5 years ago this month. It would seem to me that
        > Gershenfeld's horse is at a steady gallop toward the finish line,
        > while Kurzweil's has yet to leave the starting gate! So why is
        > the Singularity Summit so preoccupied with AGI?
        >
        > Well Hanson, for one, simply dismisses the would-be contender in
        > a solitary sentence, without so much as a footnote to back it up.
        >
        > "Even so extraordinary an innovation as radical nanotechnology
        > would do no more than dramatically lower the cost of capital for
        > manufacturing, which now makes up less than 10 percent of U.S.
        > GDP."
        >
        > Is this the same Hanson who just explained that "nobody" saw the
        > agricultural and industrial revolutions coming? Couldn't it just
        > as plausibly have been supposed, before the fact, that
        > agriculture "would do no more than" incrementally increase the
        > bounty extracted from nature, or that industrialization "would do
        > no more than" (ahem) lower costs in industries which made up a
        > small fraction of the economy? We now know that the change
        > actually lead to in each case was vastly greater than virtually
        > anyone imagined. Shouldn't we, perhaps, put a little more thought
        > into what might eventually be the full consequences of something
        > so novel as "radical nanotechnology", before dismissing them as
        > virtually insignificant?

        The word "nanotechnology" is another one of those words with
        multiple definitions. Usually these days the word just refers to
        anything developed at the "nano-scale", on the order of
        nanometers. In fact physicist Charles Tahan once ridiculed the
        term, saying why would you name a technology after a length
        scale? Why not 'meter-technology' -- such as, trash cans, chairs,
        cars, pickup trucks, airplanes? But what he and many others are
        not getting is that when Erik Drexler coined the term
        "nanotechnology", that's not what he meant. He meant building
        objects with atomic precision. And not just nano-scale objects,
        like a nanobot you might put in your bloodstream, to affect your
        body in some way, but any length scale, macro-scale objects
        included. So if you wanted a boat you could manufacture it in an
        atomically precise manner with the same technology you use to
        make your nanobot.

        Now, if this can be done, my guess is that it's most effective
        application would be to build computing machines. I don't think
        we know a fraction of what is possible in terms of building
        machines that can compute with individual electrons, using
        quantum effects directly, and that sort of thing, which could be
        mass-produced with technology to manufacture in atomically
        precise ways.

        And I imagine that this would spur on the development of AGI. And
        I can imagine that nanotechnology of this type and AGI existing
        together really could produce Hanson's "new era of much faster
        growth, with doubling times measured in months or less." Of
        course, in an AGI environment you may have to rethink how you
        define and measure "economic growth"

        > After all, it's only been eight years since we all experienced a
        > remarkable event that I would call (with hindsight) a false
        > singularity, a short period of time in which the conventional
        > wisdom became that all the rules had changed and growth was going
        > to absolutely explode, only to soon see everything stall and
        > quickly return to a state of business-as-usual, same old same
        > old. I'm referring, of course, to the Dot-Com Bubble. Obviously,
        > the impact of the Internet was not yet adequate, in the year
        > 2000, to support a sustainable, radical shift in the way the
        > entire global economy operates. What happened then wound up
        > amounting to only an evolution, not a revolution. If you were to
        > try to paint a picture, though, of what the early stage of a
        > genuine singularity might look like, the Dot-Com euphoria would
        > be a pretty reasonable guess. And indeed, the perceived close
        > parallels to events during a couple of the major inflection
        > points of the previous singularity, the industrial revolution,
        > became a large part of the cause of the "irrational exuberance"
        > we were all witness to.

        It would not surprise me if we get a pre-AGI euphoria in the
        future. We might even get several, if there are breakthrough
        technologies between now and then that spur significant phase
        changes.

        > But the bubble burst, no singularity happened. Why not? What
        > turned out to be the sticking point, the insurmountable hurdle
        > that tripped it all up, do you remember? Unless you've got
        > amnesia, of course you do: it was the stubborn immobility of
        > "bricks and mortar", the failure of the "new economy" to reshape
        > and streamline the physical world as quickly and easily as the
        > online, virtual world. The online world actually continues to
        > churn and evolve at a breakneck pace, despite the Dot-Com Bomb,
        > and despite today's credit crisis, and I think can confidently be
        > predicted to continue to do so, through Web 2.0, to Web 3.0, and
        > far beyond. The only thing that didn't happen was escape from the
        > drag of the physical, industrial-age foundations of our
        > economy—the disconnect between bits and atoms.

        Ok, two things, first the statement "no singularity happened" and
        second your statement that "the online world actually continues
        to churn and evolve at a breakneck pace".

        I guess it depends what you mean by "churn and evolve". To me it
        looks like all the churning and evolving is just refinements of
        existing ideas. We've entered the domain of diminishing returns
        in the internet/web application space. In fact my prediction is
        that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web
        application space. Ever. We've already found them all. There will
        be apps, just non-killer. And there will be refinements to
        existing killer apps. There will be no new killer apps until the
        next major technological breakthrough. And my guess is that that
        will be robotics -- the tactile manipulation of the physical
        world by computers. We're not there yet, but we can see it coming.

        My theory here is that the computer industry itself has its own
        mini-phase-changes. The first was the mainframe-to-PC phase
        change, which lead to the killer apps of spreadsheets, word
        processors, presentation software -- powerpoint -- heck, you can
        just look at the software Microsoft sells because they took over
        the killer apps of the PC era. Then we had another phase change,
        into the "internet" era, and the killer apps are search (Google),
        retailing/auctions (Amazon/Ebay), social networking (Facebook),
        blogging (Movable Type etc), voice-over-ip (Skype etc), etc. And
        let's not forget the web browser itself. And I think the
        PC-to-cell phone/PDA transition should be counted as a phase
        change as well. And this is basically the way it's going to be
        until the next phase change.

        Which brings me to my second point (I'm responding out of order),
        your statement that "no singularity happened". If a "singularity"
        is a massive, global, all-encompassing phase change, then, no, no
        singularity happened. But a phase change DID happen. More
        precisely, we went from the PC era where everyone had their own
        (but isolated) computer, with its associated personal
        productivity apps, to what we would today call "cloud computing".

        It might not be a "singularity" but it IS a big and significant change.

        > So what happens, now, if Gershenfeld and a host of other
        > researchers and engineers are indeed about to do for moving
        > matter, what the Internet did for moving bits? Can we dust off
        > all the Dot-Com prophecies, yoke them up to the new technology,
        > and buckle our seat-belts again for the escape-velocity
        > rocket-ship ride we were braced for back in 2000?

        You laugh but a buckle your seat-belts for the escape-velocity
        rocket-ship ride is entirely possible -- not right now but a
        decade or two into the future. Maybe people will call it the
        robots-bubble. Or the atoms-and-bits bubble. Or the Gershenfeld
        bubble. Ha ha. The United States will be plagued with some pretty
        gnarly energy-related problems by then, so this revolution will
        probably take place elsewhere.
      • Kevin D. Keck
        ... Actually, that link only appears to affirm (at the bottom) that his *definition* of the term is based on an event horizon, not on greater-than-human
        Message 3 of 14 , Oct 4, 2008
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          --- On Sat, 10/4/08, Eliezer Yudkowsky <sentience@...> wrote:

          > > The problem is, AGI is not the definition of a
          > singularity. Not, at least, according to the coiner of that
          > term, Vernor Vinge.
          >
          > I am afraid you are not familiar with the various
          > definitions of the
          > Singularity, or with, in particular, Vinge's definition
          > of it.
          >
          > http://www.singinst.org/blog/2007/09/30/three-major-singularity-schools/

          Actually, that link only appears to affirm (at the bottom) that his *definition* of the term is based on an event horizon, not on greater-than-human intelligence. Yes, he obviously talks quite a lot about AGI producing a Singularity, but that's not to preclude other kinds of singularities.

          And Vinge's own article in the IEEE Spectrum issue is an overall commentary on all the other articles, including Hanson's, and he chooses not to object to Hanson's interpretation of the term.

          I seem to also remember seeing a comment from him more directly on this point, but can't find it again now...


          > > But one thing is pretty clear: if you have questions
          > about the viability of this Drexlerian path to the next
          > singularity, the so-called Singularity Summit is not the
          > place to take them.
          >
          > Since its inception, the Singularity Summit has invited
          > prominent
          > thinkers and people with interesting thoughts about the
          > Singularity
          > without regard for whether they are skeptics. A review of
          > past
          > speakers will readily confirm this.

          I didn't mean to imply that you were actively excluding anyone, and apologize if I appeared to. But again, if you presume that "singularity" means specifically the appearance of greater-than-human intelligence, then you're *inadvertently* excluding, in my view, a very important topic of discussion. And as I said, are thus liable to miss the boat.
        • Kevin D. Keck
          I m afraid, Wayne, that I don t understand why you would say my prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web application space.
          Message 4 of 14 , Oct 10, 2008
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            I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the Internet??

            Anyway, though, for those who are perhaps imagination-challenged, here's a video of last month's DEMO panel on "Where the Web Is Going", featuring Howard Bloom, Peter Norvig, Prabhakar Raghavan, and John Udell (and moderated by Nova Spivack):

            http://tr.im/axf


            ----- Original Message ----
            From: Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...>
            To: Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>; bafuture@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Saturday, October 4, 2008 9:28:42 PM
            Subject: Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit
            [...]
            Ok, two things, first the statement "no singularity happened" and
            second your statement that "the online world actually continues
            to churn and evolve at a breakneck pace".

            I guess it depends what you mean by "churn and evolve". To me it
            looks like all the churning and evolving is just refinements of
            existing ideas. We've entered the domain of diminishing returns
            in the internet/web application space. In fact my prediction is
            that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web
            application space. Ever. We've already found them all. There will
            be apps, just non-killer. And there will be refinements to
            existing killer apps. There will be no new killer apps until the
            next major technological breakthrough. And my guess is that that
            will be robotics -- the tactile manipulation of the physical
            world by computers. We're not there yet, but we can see it coming.

            My theory here is that the computer industry itself has its own
            mini-phase-changes. The first was the mainframe-to- PC phase
            change, which lead to the killer apps of spreadsheets, word
            processors, presentation software -- powerpoint -- heck, you can
            just look at the software Microsoft sells because they took over
            the killer apps of the PC era. Then we had another phase change,
            into the "internet" era, and the killer apps are search (Google),
            retailing/auctions (Amazon/Ebay) , social networking (Facebook),
            blogging (Movable Type etc), voice-over-ip (Skype etc), etc. And
            let's not forget the web browser itself. And I think the
            PC-to-cell phone/PDA transition should be counted as a phase
            change as well. And this is basically the way it's going to be
            until the next phase change.

            Which brings me to my second point (I'm responding out of order),
            your statement that "no singularity happened". If a "singularity"
            is a massive, global, all-encompassing phase change, then, no, no
            singularity happened. But a phase change DID happen. More
            precisely, we went from the PC era where everyone had their own
            (but isolated) computer, with its associated personal
            productivity apps, to what we would today call "cloud computing".

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Wayne Radinsky
            On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck ... Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be - * Robotics - tactile interaction between computers and the
            Message 5 of 14 , Oct 14, 2008
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              On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck
              <keck200605@...> wrote:
              > I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
              > prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the
              > internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the
              > next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the
              > Internet??

              Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be -

              * Robotics -> tactile interaction between computers and the physical
              world, or
              * Medicine -> interaction between computers and the human body (at
              the molecular level), or
              * Artificial intelligence

              Or maybe something else.

              What it won't be: traditional web/internet apps. It won't be another
              Amazon.com or Ebay.com or any whosawhatsamacallit.com, or a program
              that you download, to communicate on the internet in a particular
              way, like Skype or Bittorrent.

              The type of application that we have, for the last 10 or 15 years,
              thought of as the "web" or "internet" application is basically done.
              We've got our Google, our Gmail, our Wikipedia, our Amazon, our Ebay,
              our Bittorrent, our Skype, our Movable Type, our Flickr, our Youtube,
              our Facebook, our Craigslist, our, I don't know, IMDB, but you get
              the idea -- We've already got them all.

              What I'm saying is, the next killer applications won't be what we
              think of as web/internet applications. They will be something else,
              they will belong to a different class of applications -- just as
              "web/internet apps" belong to a different class of applications from
              traditional PC apps like spreadsheets. They will emerge after the
              next "phase change" in computing technology.

              I watched the video. Everything they talk about falls under the
              umbrella of 'AI' (AI that falls short of human intelligence). Some of
              the stuff Howard Bloom talks about would fall under the category of
              'cyborg' technology (would go under my 'medical' category). You say
              imagination-challenged because I can't imagine another killer app in
              the traditional web/internet application space. The people in your
              video can't either. Which just underscores my point that that the
              killer apps in that space have all been found.

              I'm not saying that there will be no new applications, just that
              there will be no new killer apps -- not in the traditional
              web/internet application space. Remember, a "killer app" is an app so
              compelling, people will buy computing hardware just to get it. You'd
              probably be willing to buy a computer to get Google. To get yelp.com,
              probably not. For most people, probably not. But yelp.com is still a
              profitable business.





              On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...> wrote:
              > I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my prediction
              > is that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web application
              > space. Ever." And then you say "until the next phase change". The next
              > phase change will take us off the Internet??
              > Anyway, though, for those who are perhaps imagination-challenged, here's a
              > video of last month's DEMO panel on "Where the Web Is Going", featuring
              > Howard Bloom, Peter Norvig, Prabhakar Raghavan, and John Udell (and
              > moderated by Nova Spivack):
              > http://tr.im/axf
              >
              > ----- Original Message ----
              > From: Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...>
              > To: Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>; bafuture@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Saturday, October 4, 2008 9:28:42 PM
              > Subject: Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit
              >
              > [...]
              >
              > Ok, two things, first the statement "no singularity happened" and
              > second your statement that "the online world actually continues
              > to churn and evolve at a breakneck pace".
              >
              > I guess it depends what you mean by "churn and evolve". To me it
              > looks like all the churning and evolving is just refinements of
              > existing ideas. We've entered the domain of diminishing returns
              > in the internet/web application space. In fact my prediction is
              > that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web
              > application space. Ever. We've already found them all. There will
              > be apps, just non-killer. And there will be refinements to
              > existing killer apps. There will be no new killer apps until the
              > next major technological breakthrough. And my guess is that that
              > will be robotics -- the tactile manipulation of the physical
              > world by computers. We're not there yet, but we can see it coming.
              >
              > My theory here is that the computer industry itself has its own
              > mini-phase-changes. The first was the mainframe-to- PC phase
              > change, which lead to the killer apps of spreadsheets, word
              > processors, presentation software -- powerpoint -- heck, you can
              > just look at the software Microsoft sells because they took over
              > the killer apps of the PC era. Then we had another phase change,
              > into the "internet" era, and the killer apps are search (Google),
              > retailing/auctions (Amazon/Ebay) , social networking (Facebook),
              > blogging (Movable Type etc), voice-over-ip (Skype etc), etc. And
              > let's not forget the web browser itself. And I think the
              > PC-to-cell phone/PDA transition should be counted as a phase
              > change as well. And this is basically the way it's going to be
              > until the next phase change.
              >
              > Which brings me to my second point (I'm responding out of order),
              > your statement that "no singularity happened". If a "singularity"
              > is a massive, global, all-encompassing phase change, then, no, no
              > singularity happened. But a phase change DID happen. More
              > precisely, we went from the PC era where everyone had their own
              > (but isolated) computer, with its associated personal
              > productivity apps, to what we would today call "cloud computing".
              >
              >
            • Kevin D. Keck
              You seem to be reasoning backwards, Wayne. If any of the things talked about in the video are developed, you re going to call them AI, not Internet/web,
              Message 6 of 14 , Oct 14, 2008
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                You seem to be reasoning backwards, Wayne. If any of the things talked about in the video are developed, you're going to call them AI, not Internet/web, because...?

                Is Google AI? If not, then why do you say so? If your answer is because it's just a search engine, then don't you think it's likely that by the same "reasoning" service X will also be judged not AI, but rather just X, for any future service X talked about in the video? I mean, OK, you don't know how else to implement any such service X other than by developing AGI--but did you ever know how else to implement Google either?



                ----- Original Message ----
                From: Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...>
                To: Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>
                Cc: bafuture@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 4:21:27 PM
                Subject: Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit

                On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck
                <keck200605@...> wrote:
                > I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                > prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the
                > internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the
                > next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the
                > Internet??

                Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be -

                * Robotics -> tactile interaction between computers and the physical
                world, or
                * Medicine -> interaction between computers and the human body (at
                the molecular level), or
                * Artificial intelligence

                Or maybe something else.

                What it won't be: traditional web/internet apps. It won't be another
                Amazon.com or Ebay.com or any whosawhatsamacallit.com, or a program
                that you download, to communicate on the internet in a particular
                way, like Skype or Bittorrent.

                The type of application that we have, for the last 10 or 15 years,
                thought of as the "web" or "internet" application is basically done.
                We've got our Google, our Gmail, our Wikipedia, our Amazon, our Ebay,
                our Bittorrent, our Skype, our Movable Type, our Flickr, our Youtube,
                our Facebook, our Craigslist, our, I don't know, IMDB, but you get
                the idea -- We've already got them all.

                What I'm saying is, the next killer applications won't be what we
                think of as web/internet applications. They will be something else,
                they will belong to a different class of applications -- just as
                "web/internet apps" belong to a different class of applications from
                traditional PC apps like spreadsheets. They will emerge after the
                next "phase change" in computing technology.

                I watched the video. Everything they talk about falls under the
                umbrella of 'AI' (AI that falls short of human intelligence). Some of
                the stuff Howard Bloom talks about would fall under the category of
                'cyborg' technology (would go under my 'medical' category). You say
                imagination-challenged because I can't imagine another killer app in
                the traditional web/internet application space. The people in your
                video can't either. Which just underscores my point that that the
                killer apps in that space have all been found.

                I'm not saying that there will be no new applications, just that
                there will be no new killer apps -- not in the traditional
                web/internet application space. Remember, a "killer app" is an app so
                compelling, people will buy computing hardware just to get it. You'd
                probably be willing to buy a computer to get Google. To get yelp.com,
                probably not. For most people, probably not. But yelp.com is still a
                profitable business.





                On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...> wrote:
                > I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my prediction
                > is that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web application
                > space. Ever." And then you say "until the next phase change". The next
                > phase change will take us off the Internet??
                > Anyway, though, for those who are perhaps imagination-challenged, here's a
                > video of last month's DEMO panel on "Where the Web Is Going", featuring
                > Howard Bloom, Peter Norvig, Prabhakar Raghavan, and John Udell (and
                > moderated by Nova Spivack):
                > http://tr.im/axf
                >
                > ----- Original Message ----
                > From: Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...>
                > To: Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>; bafuture@yahoogroups.com
                > Sent: Saturday, October 4, 2008 9:28:42 PM
                > Subject: Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit
                >
                > [...]
                >
                > Ok, two things, first the statement "no singularity happened" and
                > second your statement that "the online world actually continues
                > to churn and evolve at a breakneck pace".
                >
                > I guess it depends what you mean by "churn and evolve". To me it
                > looks like all the churning and evolving is just refinements of
                > existing ideas. We've entered the domain of diminishing returns
                > in the internet/web application space. In fact my prediction is
                > that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web
                > application space. Ever. We've already found them all. There will
                > be apps, just non-killer. And there will be refinements to
                > existing killer apps. There will be no new killer apps until the
                > next major technological breakthrough. And my guess is that that
                > will be robotics -- the tactile manipulation of the physical
                > world by computers. We're not there yet, but we can see it coming.
                >
                > My theory here is that the computer industry itself has its own
                > mini-phase-changes. The first was the mainframe-to- PC phase
                > change, which lead to the killer apps of spreadsheets, word
                > processors, presentation software -- powerpoint -- heck, you can
                > just look at the software Microsoft sells because they took over
                > the killer apps of the PC era. Then we had another phase change,
                > into the "internet" era, and the killer apps are search (Google),
                > retailing/auctions (Amazon/Ebay) , social networking (Facebook),
                > blogging (Movable Type etc), voice-over-ip (Skype etc), etc. And
                > let's not forget the web browser itself. And I think the
                > PC-to-cell phone/PDA transition should be counted as a phase
                > change as well. And this is basically the way it's going to be
                > until the next phase change.
                >
                > Which brings me to my second point (I'm responding out of order),
                > your statement that "no singularity happened". If a "singularity"
                > is a massive, global, all-encompassing phase change, then, no, no
                > singularity happened. But a phase change DID happen. More
                > precisely, we went from the PC era where everyone had their own
                > (but isolated) computer, with its associated personal
                > productivity apps, to what we would today call "cloud computing".
                >
                >


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Wayne Radinsky
                Kevin, we re just debating word definitions. Saying an application that understands human language is a web/internet application, just because it is
                Message 7 of 14 , Oct 15, 2008
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                  Kevin, we're just debating word definitions.

                  Saying an application that understands human language is a
                  "web/internet" application, just because it is accessible on the
                  internet, is like saying Skype is a "PC application" (in the same league
                  as VisiCalc or Microsoft Excel) just because it runs on a personal
                  computer.

                  There's a qualitative difference.



                  On Tue, Oct 14, 2008 at 8:40 PM, Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...> wrote:
                  > You seem to be reasoning backwards, Wayne. If any of the things talked
                  > about in the video are developed, you're going to call them AI, not
                  > Internet/web, because...?
                  > Is Google AI? If not, then why do you say so? If your answer is because
                  > it's just a search engine, then don't you think it's likely that by the same
                  > "reasoning" service X will also be judged not AI, but rather just X, for any
                  > future service X talked about in the video? I mean, OK, you don't know how
                  > else to implement any such service X other than by developing AGI--but did
                  > you ever know how else to implement Google either?
                  >
                  > ----- Original Message ----
                  > From: Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...>
                  > To: Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>
                  > Cc: bafuture@yahoogroups.com
                  > Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 4:21:27 PM
                  > Subject: Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit
                  >
                  > On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck
                  > <keck200605@...> wrote:
                  >> I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                  >> prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the
                  >> internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the
                  >> next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the
                  >> Internet??
                  >
                  > Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be -
                  >
                  > * Robotics -> tactile interaction between computers and the physical
                  > world, or
                  > * Medicine -> interaction between computers and the human body (at
                  > the molecular level), or
                  > * Artificial intelligence
                  >
                  > Or maybe something else.
                  >
                  > What it won't be: traditional web/internet apps. It won't be another
                  > Amazon.com or Ebay.com or any whosawhatsamacallit.com, or a program
                  > that you download, to communicate on the internet in a particular
                  > way, like Skype or Bittorrent.
                  >
                  > The type of application that we have, for the last 10 or 15 years,
                  > thought of as the "web" or "internet" application is basically done.
                  > We've got our Google, our Gmail, our Wikipedia, our Amazon, our Ebay,
                  > our Bittorrent, our Skype, our Movable Type, our Flickr, our Youtube,
                  > our Facebook, our Craigslist, our, I don't know, IMDB, but you get
                  > the idea -- We've already got them all.
                  >
                  > What I'm saying is, the next killer applications won't be what we
                  > think of as web/internet applications. They will be something else,
                  > they will belong to a different class of applications -- just as
                  > "web/internet apps" belong to a different class of applications from
                  > traditional PC apps like spreadsheets. They will emerge after the
                  > next "phase change" in computing technology.
                  >
                  > I watched the video. Everything they talk about falls under the
                  > umbrella of 'AI' (AI that falls short of human intelligence). Some of
                  > the stuff Howard Bloom talks about would fall under the category of
                  > 'cyborg' technology (would go under my 'medical' category). You say
                  > imagination-challenged because I can't imagine another killer app in
                  > the traditional web/internet application space. The people in your
                  > video can't either. Which just underscores my point that that the
                  > killer apps in that space have all been found.
                  >
                  > I'm not saying that there will be no new applications, just that
                  > there will be no new killer apps -- not in the traditional
                  > web/internet application space. Remember, a "killer app" is an app so
                  > compelling, people will buy computing hardware just to get it. You'd
                  > probably be willing to buy a computer to get Google. To get yelp.com,
                  > probably not. For most people, probably not. But yelp.com is still a
                  > profitable business.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>
                  > wrote:
                  >> I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                  >> prediction
                  >> is that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web application
                  >> space. Ever." And then you say "until the next phase change". The next
                  >> phase change will take us off the Internet??
                  >> Anyway, though, for those who are perhaps imagination-challenged, here's a
                  >> video of last month's DEMO panel on "Where the Web Is Going", featuring
                  >> Howard Bloom, Peter Norvig, Prabhakar Raghavan, and John Udell (and
                  >> moderated by Nova Spivack):
                  >> http://tr.im/axf
                  >>
                  >> ----- Original Message ----
                  >> From: Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...>
                  >> To: Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>; bafuture@yahoogroups.com
                  >> Sent: Saturday, October 4, 2008 9:28:42 PM
                  >> Subject: Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit
                  >>
                  >> [...]
                  >>
                  >> Ok, two things, first the statement "no singularity happened" and
                  >> second your statement that "the online world actually continues
                  >> to churn and evolve at a breakneck pace".
                  >>
                  >> I guess it depends what you mean by "churn and evolve". To me it
                  >> looks like all the churning and evolving is just refinements of
                  >> existing ideas. We've entered the domain of diminishing returns
                  >> in the internet/web application space. In fact my prediction is
                  >> that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web
                  >> application space. Ever. We've already found them all. There will
                  >> be apps, just non-killer. And there will be refinements to
                  >> existing killer apps. There will be no new killer apps until the
                  >> next major technological breakthrough. And my guess is that that
                  >> will be robotics -- the tactile manipulation of the physical
                  >> world by computers. We're not there yet, but we can see it coming.
                  >>
                  >> My theory here is that the computer industry itself has its own
                  >> mini-phase-changes. The first was the mainframe-to- PC phase
                  >> change, which lead to the killer apps of spreadsheets, word
                  >> processors, presentation software -- powerpoint -- heck, you can
                  >> just look at the software Microsoft sells because they took over
                  >> the killer apps of the PC era. Then we had another phase change,
                  >> into the "internet" era, and the killer apps are search (Google),
                  >> retailing/auctions (Amazon/Ebay) , social networking (Facebook),
                  >> blogging (Movable Type etc), voice-over-ip (Skype etc), etc. And
                  >> let's not forget the web browser itself. And I think the
                  >> PC-to-cell phone/PDA transition should be counted as a phase
                  >> change as well. And this is basically the way it's going to be
                  >> until the next phase change.
                  >>
                  >> Which brings me to my second point (I'm responding out of order),
                  >> your statement that "no singularity happened". If a "singularity"
                  >> is a massive, global, all-encompassing phase change, then, no, no
                  >> singularity happened. But a phase change DID happen. More
                  >> precisely, we went from the PC era where everyone had their own
                  >> (but isolated) computer, with its associated personal
                  >> productivity apps, to what we would today call "cloud computing".
                  >>
                  >>
                  >
                • adrian cockcroft
                  Right now the killer apps are on the iPhone, it s this year s hot market where a lot of innovation is happening, and its compelling enough for people to get
                  Message 8 of 14 , Oct 15, 2008
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Right now the 'killer apps" are on the iPhone, it's this year's hot
                    market where a lot of innovation is happening, and its compelling
                    enough for people to get on the platform. Usable apps in your pocket
                    lets you interact with web services 24x7 rather than when you are
                    sitting down with your laptop open. The usability and volume on a
                    single compatible platform has crossed the chasm/tipping point/[insert
                    your favorite cliche here] in a way that other mobile platforms failed
                    to do.

                    I've been trying to predict the short term trends in this space for a
                    while, there are some interesting things coming in the next year or
                    two, I posed slides from my Usenix talk here:
                    http://www.slideshare.net/adrianco/millicomputing-usenix-2008/

                    Cheers Adrian


                    On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 7:43 AM, Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...> wrote:
                    > Kevin, we're just debating word definitions.
                    >
                    > Saying an application that understands human language is a
                    > "web/internet" application, just because it is accessible on the
                    > internet, is like saying Skype is a "PC application" (in the same league
                    > as VisiCalc or Microsoft Excel) just because it runs on a personal
                    > computer.
                    >
                    > There's a qualitative difference.
                    >
                    > On Tue, Oct 14, 2008 at 8:40 PM, Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>
                    > wrote:
                    >> You seem to be reasoning backwards, Wayne. If any of the things talked
                    >> about in the video are developed, you're going to call them AI, not
                    >> Internet/web, because...?
                    >> Is Google AI? If not, then why do you say so? If your answer is because
                    >> it's just a search engine, then don't you think it's likely that by the
                    >> same
                    >> "reasoning" service X will also be judged not AI, but rather just X, for
                    >> any
                    >> future service X talked about in the video? I mean, OK, you don't know how
                    >> else to implement any such service X other than by developing AGI--but did
                    >> you ever know how else to implement Google either?
                    >>
                    >> ----- Original Message ----
                    >> From: Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...>
                    >> To: Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>
                    >> Cc: bafuture@yahoogroups.com
                    >> Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 4:21:27 PM
                    >> Subject: Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit
                    >>
                    >> On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck
                    >> <keck200605@...> wrote:
                    >>> I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                    >>> prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the
                    >>> internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the
                    >>> next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the
                    >>> Internet??
                    >>
                    >> Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be -
                    >>
                    >> * Robotics -> tactile interaction between computers and the physical
                    >> world, or
                    >> * Medicine -> interaction between computers and the human body (at
                    >> the molecular level), or
                    >> * Artificial intelligence
                    >>
                    >> Or maybe something else.
                    >>
                    >> What it won't be: traditional web/internet apps. It won't be another
                    >> Amazon.com or Ebay.com or any whosawhatsamacallit.com, or a program
                    >> that you download, to communicate on the internet in a particular
                    >> way, like Skype or Bittorrent.
                    >>
                    >> The type of application that we have, for the last 10 or 15 years,
                    >> thought of as the "web" or "internet" application is basically done.
                    >> We've got our Google, our Gmail, our Wikipedia, our Amazon, our Ebay,
                    >> our Bittorrent, our Skype, our Movable Type, our Flickr, our Youtube,
                    >> our Facebook, our Craigslist, our, I don't know, IMDB, but you get
                    >> the idea -- We've already got them all.
                    >>
                    >> What I'm saying is, the next killer applications won't be what we
                    >> think of as web/internet applications. They will be something else,
                    >> they will belong to a different class of applications -- just as
                    >> "web/internet apps" belong to a different class of applications from
                    >> traditional PC apps like spreadsheets. They will emerge after the
                    >> next "phase change" in computing technology.
                    >>
                    >> I watched the video. Everything they talk about falls under the
                    >> umbrella of 'AI' (AI that falls short of human intelligence). Some of
                    >> the stuff Howard Bloom talks about would fall under the category of
                    >> 'cyborg' technology (would go under my 'medical' category). You say
                    >> imagination-challenged because I can't imagine another killer app in
                    >> the traditional web/internet application space. The people in your
                    >> video can't either. Which just underscores my point that that the
                    >> killer apps in that space have all been found.
                    >>
                    >> I'm not saying that there will be no new applications, just that
                    >> there will be no new killer apps -- not in the traditional
                    >> web/internet application space. Remember, a "killer app" is an app so
                    >> compelling, people will buy computing hardware just to get it. You'd
                    >> probably be willing to buy a computer to get Google. To get yelp.com,
                    >> probably not. For most people, probably not. But yelp.com is still a
                    >> profitable business.
                    >>
                    >>
                    >>
                    >>
                    >>
                    >> On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>
                    >> wrote:
                    >>> I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                    >>> prediction
                    >>> is that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web application
                    >>> space. Ever." And then you say "until the next phase change". The next
                    >>> phase change will take us off the Internet??
                    >>> Anyway, though, for those who are perhaps imagination-challenged, here's
                    >>> a
                    >>> video of last month's DEMO panel on "Where the Web Is Going", featuring
                    >>> Howard Bloom, Peter Norvig, Prabhakar Raghavan, and John Udell (and
                    >>> moderated by Nova Spivack):
                    >>> http://tr.im/axf
                    >>>
                    >>> ----- Original Message ----
                    >>> From: Wayne Radinsky <waynerad@...>
                    >>> To: Kevin D. Keck <keck200605@...>; bafuture@yahoogroups.com
                    >>> Sent: Saturday, October 4, 2008 9:28:42 PM
                    >>> Subject: Re: [bafuture] The So-Called Singularity Summit
                    >>>
                    >>> [...]
                    >>>
                    >>> Ok, two things, first the statement "no singularity happened" and
                    >>> second your statement that "the online world actually continues
                    >>> to churn and evolve at a breakneck pace".
                    >>>
                    >>> I guess it depends what you mean by "churn and evolve". To me it
                    >>> looks like all the churning and evolving is just refinements of
                    >>> existing ideas. We've entered the domain of diminishing returns
                    >>> in the internet/web application space. In fact my prediction is
                    >>> that there will be NO new killer apps in the internet/web
                    >>> application space. Ever. We've already found them all. There will
                    >>> be apps, just non-killer. And there will be refinements to
                    >>> existing killer apps. There will be no new killer apps until the
                    >>> next major technological breakthrough. And my guess is that that
                    >>> will be robotics -- the tactile manipulation of the physical
                    >>> world by computers. We're not there yet, but we can see it coming.
                    >>>
                    >>> My theory here is that the computer industry itself has its own
                    >>> mini-phase-changes. The first was the mainframe-to- PC phase
                    >>> change, which lead to the killer apps of spreadsheets, word
                    >>> processors, presentation software -- powerpoint -- heck, you can
                    >>> just look at the software Microsoft sells because they took over
                    >>> the killer apps of the PC era. Then we had another phase change,
                    >>> into the "internet" era, and the killer apps are search (Google),
                    >>> retailing/auctions (Amazon/Ebay) , social networking (Facebook),
                    >>> blogging (Movable Type etc), voice-over-ip (Skype etc), etc. And
                    >>> let's not forget the web browser itself. And I think the
                    >>> PC-to-cell phone/PDA transition should be counted as a phase
                    >>> change as well. And this is basically the way it's going to be
                    >>> until the next phase change.
                    >>>
                    >>> Which brings me to my second point (I'm responding out of order),
                    >>> your statement that "no singularity happened". If a "singularity"
                    >>> is a massive, global, all-encompassing phase change, then, no, no
                    >>> singularity happened. But a phase change DID happen. More
                    >>> precisely, we went from the PC era where everyone had their own
                    >>> (but isolated) computer, with its associated personal
                    >>> productivity apps, to what we would today call "cloud computing".
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>
                    >
                    >
                  • Paul King
                    Future Salon ... To view the technology world this way is to confuse the core idea that drives a killer app with its user interface modality. Robotics and
                    Message 9 of 14 , Oct 15, 2008
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Future Salon
                      On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck wrote:
                      > I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                      > prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the
                      > internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the
                      > next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the
                      > Internet??

                      On Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:21 pm, Wayne Radinsky wrote:
                      > Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be -
                      >
                      > * Robotics -> tactile interaction between computers
                      > and the physical world, or
                      > * Medicine -> interaction between computers and the
                      > human body (at the molecular level), or
                      > * Artificial intelligence
                      >
                      > Or maybe something else.
                      >
                      > What it won't be: traditional web/internet apps. It won't be another
                      > Amazon.com or Ebay.com or any whosawhatsamacallit.com, or a program
                      > that you download, to communicate on the internet in a particular
                      > way, like Skype or Bittorrent.
                      >
                      > The type of application that we have, for the last 10 or 15 years,
                      > thought of as the "web" or "internet" application is basically done.
                      > We've got our Google, our Gmail, our Wikipedia, our Amazon, our Ebay,
                      > our Bittorrent, our Skype, our Movable Type, our Flickr, our Youtube,
                      > our Facebook, our Craigslist, our, I don't know, IMDB, but you get
                      > the idea -- We've already got them all.

                      To view the technology world this way is to confuse the core idea that drives a "killer app" with its user interface modality.

                      Robotics and medicine are examples of new user interface modalities. Robotics is suer interaction via macro-scale mechanical sensors and effectors. The medical nanotech example is user interaction via nanoscale electrostatic/mechanical sensors and effectors.

                      A new user interface modality always has the potential to lead to new killer apps, simply because it makes new applications possible that weren't possible before, and because it does so in a discontinuous way that can promote the type of technology revolution people call a "killer app".

                      However to say that we've found all of the web/internet applications is to overlook some important patterns:

                      1) The "web/internet" refers to multi-way user-user and user-server communication with a human scale interface (visual display, keyboard, pointing device, buttons) on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. This is a very large range. To say that we are "done" with the web is to say that global-scale human social interaction has evolved as far as it can. 10,000 years of evolution of civilization has come to and end, right here in 2008.

                      2) The web applications that were listed were all clustered together as if they all happened in one single explosion. However in reality, there was Amazon and eBay in the beginning -- the ecommerce killer app. Then Wikipedia -- globally collaborative content authoring. And Skype -- the global voice communication killer app. Then MySpace/Facebook -- the global social network killer app. Then YouTube -- social video broadcast. New web/internet killer apps have been showing up every 1-2 years for the last 15. Who is to say that we are at the end?

                      > the next killer applications ... will be something else,
                      > they will belong to a different class of applications -- just as
                      > "web/internet apps" belong to a different class of applications from
                      > traditional PC apps like spreadsheets. They will emerge after
                      > the next "phase change" in computing technology.

                      This reasoning makes a misleading distinction between "traditional PC apps" and "web/internet apps" to support the conclusion that there is a sequence and we are due for the next phase.

                      The reason innovation in "traditional PC apps" plateaued is because there is only so much that individuals can do by themselves with a computer keyboard. However once other people, companies, and organizations were brought into the mix on a global scale with the internet, the possibilities became as great as civilization itself. We are just at the beginning of using social media to reorganize global civilization and culture.

                      It is also important to note that from the user's perspective, the web/internet is really an extension of the "traditional PC app" platform, and not a new platform. Arguably, the web browser is a "traditional PC app" that opened up an entirely new world. Many internet killer apps, such as Amazon, eBay, and Facebook, are essentially plug-ins to the web-browser killer app. (And the traditional PC apps are just plug-ins to the PC as killer app for the microprocessor.) Applications like Skype and massively multiplayer online games (World of Warcraft) are closer to traditional PC apps than they are to websites because of their sophisticated client-side component, but they add the new twist of global social interaction that has made them so compelling.

                      All of this is not to say that robotics and nanotechnology won't enable some killer apps of their own. However robotics is already all around us and is generally unremarkable (automatic gates in parking lots, ATM machines, elevators, VCRs, Roomba). Robotics tends to be a component of new concepts, but is not by itself a game changer. Nanotechnology will surely be revolutionary, but getting there is slow going and genetics seems to be where the action is at the moment.

                      Artificial Intelligence is harder to assess since it is often defined as that-which-hasn't-been-invented-yet. Statistical machine learning, AIs current technological foothold, is slowly transforming how complex systems work and seems sure to lead to new breakthroughs -- quite possibly in the web/internet realm by anticipating and optimizing social preference patterns. So I agree there will be some killer apps there, but they probably won't look like AI killer apps even though AI ideas are core to their design. Google Search, Google News and Amazon recommendations are examples of uses of statistical techniques that are already deployed but don't seem like "AI".

                      Paul
                      www.pking.org



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Wayne Radinsky
                      ... Again, I feel we are just debating semantics, not anything real. How big does a phase change have to be, to be called a phase change ? How killer does
                      Message 10 of 14 , Oct 15, 2008
                      • 0 Attachment
                        On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Paul King <email@...> wrote:
                        > To view the technology world this way is to confuse the core idea that
                        > drives a "killer app" with its user interface modality. [...]

                        Again, I feel we are just debating semantics, not anything real. How big
                        does a "phase change" have to be, to be called a "phase change"? How
                        "killer" does an app have to be to be called a "killer" app? Ok, so you
                        and Kevin define these in a different way than I do. I feel I have made
                        my point, and there isn't much more to say about it.

                        > To say that we are "done" with the web is to say that global-scale human
                        > social interaction has evolved as far as it can. 10,000 years of
                        > evolution of civilization has come to and end, right here in 2008.

                        You can have a) non-killer apps -- which can still be quite useful to a
                        particular industry or niche audience, and b) new apps outside the scope
                        of traditional web/internet apps.

                        > 2) The web applications that were listed were all clustered together as
                        > if they all happened in one single explosion. However in reality, there
                        > was Amazon and eBay in the beginning -- the ecommerce killer app. Then
                        > Wikipedia -- globally collaborative content authoring. And Skype -- the
                        > global voice communication killer app. Then MySpace/Facebook -- the
                        > global social network killer app. Then YouTube -- social video broadcast.

                        I actually never said they happened in one single explosion. But
                        actually, you can see they do emerge in a particular time frame.
                        Actually it's easier to see with the PC killer apps -- the first
                        spreadsheet (VisiCalc) came out in 1979, and you can see that by about
                        1992 or so, you have all your killer apps, for that phase of the
                        computing industry. For the internet, even though the internet was
                        invented in 1983 (the TCP/IP protocol), no internet apps as we know them
                        today came out for a long time. The first programs to come out weren't
                        killer apps -- they didn't stick. The first internet apps were things
                        like FTP and Telnet. Telnet didn't stick and FTP seems to have been
                        subsumed into other programs (like Dreamweaver), so technically it is
                        still around. IRC is still around but seems to serve mainly as a
                        command-and-control system for spambots. The HTTP protocol and the first
                        web browser were invented in 1989, but it took many years from there
                        before we got anything resembling the modern "web application". So you
                        can see, there is a definite timeframe, during which certain
                        applications emerge, and they don't emerge before or after.

                        So, whether you consider the applications of a single computing era to
                        constitute a "single explosion" probably depends on what scaling factor
                        you use on the x axis of your timeline -- make it small and they will
                        appear all spread out, make it big and they will seem to all blur
                        together.

                        > New web/internet killer apps have been showing up every 1-2 years for
                        > the last 15. Who is to say that we are at the end?

                        Well, me I guess -- that's what I'm saying. So there are people who say,
                        for example, that virtual worlds, things like Second Life, will become
                        killer apps. And maybe? I suppose. I'm doubtful, because to me it
                        doesn't seem like virtual worlds are really bandwidth-constrained, the
                        problem they have is that the social interaction just isn't done in a
                        way that appeal to "everybody", to a mass audience. So first, about the
                        bandwidth issue, if the problem with virtual worlds was lack of
                        bandwidth, then virtual worlds will become compelling when the bandwidth
                        crosses the necessary threshold. On the other hand, if the issue is
                        social interaction, then virtual worlds might never get too far beyond
                        "niche" status, which is where they are now -- virtual worlds are
                        essentially multi-player video games, and depending on what the "game"
                        is, they appeal to one group of people or another. For example World Of
                        Warcraft is very appealing to people who enjoy that type of video game.
                        Second Life is appealing to people who like a different type of video
                        game (the object of the game being, apparently, to buy and sell 3D
                        models). We haven't seen any virtual world that appeals to "everybody"
                        and catapulted itself into "killer app" status. The question is whether
                        we ever will. Maybe once there is enough bandwidth, Second Life will
                        become compelling to the masses. (Naah, I doubt it). Maybe someone will
                        invent a new social interaction system that is compelling. (Doubtful,
                        but possible). If you just want to socialize with people on the
                        internet, programs like Skype or Facebook or even Twitter seem much more
                        compelling, and are all here already.

                        Adrian Cockcroft says the killer apps in the mobile device space are
                        just being developed now. That's another phase change in the industry --
                        from the PC/laptop form factor to the cell phone form factor, made
                        possible by Moore's Law and the continued miniaturization of computing
                        technology.

                        And I must admit, I haven't been following what's been going on in the
                        mobile world all that much. So I can't really say how much of the
                        "killer app space" has been explored for mobile devices so far. I know
                        the Japanese have been working on cell phone apps for ages. And I can
                        understand why the iPhone was so successful because the user interface
                        on my cellphone is dreadful... so there was a huge opportunity for
                        someone to come along and design a cell phone that was actually easy to
                        use -- and Steve Jobs excels at that kind of thing, not to mention style
                        and elegance.






                        On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Paul King <email@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck wrote:
                        >> I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                        >> prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the
                        >> internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the
                        >> next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the
                        >> Internet??
                        >
                        > On Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:21 pm, Wayne Radinsky wrote:
                        >> Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be -
                        >>
                        >> * Robotics -> tactile interaction between computers
                        >> and the physical world, or
                        >> * Medicine -> interaction between computers and the
                        >> human body (at the molecular level), or
                        >> * Artificial intelligence
                        >>
                        >> Or maybe something else.
                        >>
                        >> What it won't be: traditional web/internet apps. It won't be another
                        >> Amazon.com or Ebay.com or any whosawhatsamacallit.com, or a program
                        >> that you download, to communicate on the internet in a particular
                        >> way, like Skype or Bittorrent.
                        >>
                        >> The type of application that we have, for the last 10 or 15 years,
                        >> thought of as the "web" or "internet" application is basically done.
                        >> We've got our Google, our Gmail, our Wikipedia, our Amazon, our Ebay,
                        >> our Bittorrent, our Skype, our Movable Type, our Flickr, our Youtube,
                        >> our Facebook, our Craigslist, our, I don't know, IMDB, but you get
                        >> the idea -- We've already got them all.
                        >
                        > To view the technology world this way is to confuse the core idea that
                        > drives a "killer app" with its user interface modality.
                        >
                        > Robotics and medicine are examples of new user interface modalities.
                        > Robotics is suer interaction via macro-scale mechanical sensors and
                        > effectors. The medical nanotech example is user interaction via nanoscale
                        > electrostatic/mechanical sensors and effectors.
                        >
                        > A new user interface modality always has the potential to lead to new killer
                        > apps, simply because it makes new applications possible that weren't
                        > possible before, and because it does so in a discontinuous way that can
                        > promote the type of technology revolution people call a "killer app".
                        >
                        > However to say that we've found all of the web/internet applications is to
                        > overlook some important patterns:
                        >
                        > 1) The "web/internet" refers to multi-way user-user and user-server
                        > communication with a human scale interface (visual display, keyboard,
                        > pointing device, buttons) on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. This is a
                        > very large range. To say that we are "done" with the web is to say that
                        > global-scale human social interaction has evolved as far as it can. 10,000
                        > years of evolution of civilization has come to and end, right here in 2008.
                        >
                        > 2) The web applications that were listed were all clustered together as if
                        > they all happened in one single explosion. However in reality, there was
                        > Amazon and eBay in the beginning -- the ecommerce killer app. Then
                        > Wikipedia -- globally collaborative content authoring. And Skype -- the
                        > global voice communication killer app. Then MySpace/Facebook -- the global
                        > social network killer app. Then YouTube -- social video broadcast. New
                        > web/internet killer apps have been showing up every 1-2 years for the last
                        > 15. Who is to say that we are at the end?
                        >
                        >> the next killer applications ... will be something else,
                        >> they will belong to a different class of applications -- just as
                        >> "web/internet apps" belong to a different class of applications from
                        >> traditional PC apps like spreadsheets.
                        > They will emerge after
                        >> the next "phase change" in computing technology.
                        >
                        > This reasoning makes a misleading distinction between "traditional PC apps"
                        > and "web/internet apps" to support the conclusion that there is a sequence
                        > and we are due for the next phase.
                        >
                        > The reason innovation in "traditional PC apps" plateaued is because there is
                        > only so much that individuals can do by themselves with a computer
                        > keyboard. However once other people, companies, and organizations were
                        > brought into the mix on a global scale with the internet, the
                        > possibilities became as great as civilization itself. We are just at the
                        > beginning of using social media to reorganize global civilization and
                        > culture.
                        >
                        > It is also important to note that from the user's perspective, the
                        > web/internet is really an extension of the "traditional PC app" platform,
                        > and not a new platform. Arguably, the web browser is a "traditional PC app"
                        > that opened up an entirely new world. Many internet killer apps, such as
                        > Amazon, eBay, and Facebook, are essentially plug-ins to the web-browser
                        > killer app. (And the traditional PC apps are just plug-ins to the PC as
                        > killer app for the microprocessor.) Applications like Skype and massively
                        > multiplayer online games (World of Warcraft) are closer to traditional PC
                        > apps than they are to websites because of their sophisticated client-side
                        > component, but they add the new twist of global social interaction that has
                        > made them so compelling.
                        >
                        > All of this is not to say that robotics and nanotechnology won't enable some
                        > killer apps of their own. However robotics is already all around us and is
                        > generally unremarkable (automatic gates in parking lots, ATM machines,
                        > elevators, VCRs, Roomba). Robotics tends to be a component of new concepts,
                        > but is not by itself a game changer. Nanotechnology will surely be
                        > revolutionary, but getting there is slow going and genetics seems to be
                        > where the action is at the moment.
                        >
                        > Artificial Intelligence is harder to assess since it is often defined as
                        > that-which-hasn't-been-invented-yet. Statistical machine learning, AIs
                        > current technological foothold, is slowly transforming how complex systems
                        > work and seems sure to lead to new breakthroughs -- quite possibly in the
                        > web/internet realm by anticipating and optimizing social preference
                        > patterns. So I agree there will be some killer apps there, but they
                        > probably won't look like AI killer apps even though AI ideas are core to
                        > their design. Google Search, Google News and Amazon recommendations are
                        > examples of uses of statistical techniques that are already deployed but
                        > don't seem like "AI".
                        >
                        > Paul
                        > www.pking.org
                        >
                        >
                      • Troy Gardner
                        Good points Paul. One thing I d like to mention is even as futurists, the future is veiled, and it s precisely what we don t know we don t know that will end
                        Message 11 of 14 , Oct 15, 2008
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                          Good points Paul.
                          One thing I'd like to mention is even as futurists, the future is veiled, and it's precisely what we don't know we don't know that will end up changing. To be sure, there is a human constant: 8 years from now there will be a new bubble bursting, X will be the new Facebook will be the new Friendster, will be the new AOL will be the new telegraph.

                          Everything seems obvious in retrospect, tetonic plates, the earth is round. I think it's arrogance (in every generation) to think that what's present isn't going to change dramatically.

                          From my own perspective I think we are still in the dark ages...people back in the 'real' Dark Ages, then probably thought life wasn't going to change much and they were much better than primitives before them. Life and technology is still fragile, brittle, archaic. Problems are deep, non-intuitive. Many area we face are just at the dawn of understanding.


                          I tend to think that AI like the term God, has so many individual meanings and interpretations that it's almost pointless to use it. For some God is in every traffic light making sure they get to work on time or not. For others God is a powerful standoffish fellow who created the universe but hasn't been heard of since, For some God is relabelling of things they would classify as emotion and science. It's hard to pin down. AI/Tech definition falls into the same spectrum.

                          Google is a search engine, even though routing of maps, zeit geist, are far beyond much of the AI work done 30 years ago.

                          As soon as something hit's commodity, it's taken for granted and redefined by it's user interface rather than the technology that powers it. A car is still a car, despite that every new generation of the car becomes more dependent on the various CPU and sensors...I'm sure there's a moore's law like curve for the number of car parts.

                          Tangentially: A friend with a Prius had the CPU fail, it was a catastrophic failure relative to say a volkswagon bug in that solutions could be jury-rigged, push started. I'm not sure if that's progress or not.

                          I've had a long running intuition that everybody is turning their homes/lives into theme parks, take a tour of home depot sometime and see all the various styles and ages that one can choose to make the inner home look like. For a redefinition of robotics, Go down to the local Target and look at the Halloween displays. They have sensors, they react, they output movement, light and sound, they have coordinated movements...they evooke emotional responses some funny, some lame, and some actually scary. A personal Disneyland animatronic for $10-$30. I don't think most people would classify these as robots, or computer controlled, I don't think most would classify them as intelligent, but they are. I bet if I brought one back 100 years ago it would have been considered 'magic' by some. I suspect more of the same in the future.
                        • Paul King
                          ... I thought I was using your definition, as implied from the list of web/internet apps you provided. ... I guess we need a definition of killer app. I was
                          Message 12 of 14 , Oct 15, 2008
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                            Wayne Radinsky wrote:
                            > How "killer" does an app have to be to be called a "killer" app?
                            > Ok, so you and Kevin define these in a different way than I do

                            I thought I was using your definition, as implied from the list of
                            web/internet apps you provided.

                            > You can have a) non-killer apps -- which can still be
                            > quite useful to a particular industry or niche audience,
                            > and b) new apps outside the scope of traditional web/internet apps.

                            I guess we need a definition of killer app. I was seeing a killer app as a
                            use of technology that transforms a certain type of human activity and
                            becomes adopted by broad swath of the population. I'd include in the list:
                            PC, VCR, word processor, spreadsheet, CDROM, internet, cell phones,
                            web browser, internet search, ecommerce, voip, social networking,
                            wikipedia, ...

                            If you define killer app as "b) something outside the scope of traditional
                            web/internet apps," then by definition, no new web/internet app can be a
                            killer app. Seems circular though.

                            I would put SecondLife broadly in the massively-multiplayer-online-game
                            category. MMOGs have been a killer app for 3D graphics cards coupled to the
                            internet. I don't think people are going to create 3D worlds to live in as
                            the new paradigm, but 3D multiuser worlds as a form of entertainment is a
                            natural evolution from text-based and 2D graphics-based fantasy games.

                            MySpace/Facebook and YouTube are the most recent killer apps to emerge, I
                            think, and they are only 2-5 years old. In 5 years, perhaps a new
                            revolution will have dwarfed Facebook the way Facebook has now dwarfed AOL.
                            AOL peaked in 2002 at 25 million subscribers and has gone down steadily ever
                            since, now at 8 million or so. Facebook is at 110 million users.

                            Paul


                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: "Wayne Radinsky" <waynerad@...>
                            To: "Paul King" <email@...>
                            Cc: <bafuture@yahoogroups.com>; <keck200605@...>
                            Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:17 PM
                            Subject: Re: The So-Called Singularity Summit


                            > On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Paul King <email@...> wrote:
                            >> To view the technology world this way is to confuse the core idea that
                            >> drives a "killer app" with its user interface modality. [...]
                            >
                            > Again, I feel we are just debating semantics, not anything real. How big
                            > does a "phase change" have to be, to be called a "phase change"? How
                            > "killer" does an app have to be to be called a "killer" app? Ok, so you
                            > and Kevin define these in a different way than I do. I feel I have made
                            > my point, and there isn't much more to say about it.
                            >
                            >> To say that we are "done" with the web is to say that global-scale human
                            >> social interaction has evolved as far as it can. 10,000 years of
                            >> evolution of civilization has come to and end, right here in 2008.
                            >
                            > You can have a) non-killer apps -- which can still be quite useful to a
                            > particular industry or niche audience, and b) new apps outside the scope
                            > of traditional web/internet apps.
                            >
                            >> 2) The web applications that were listed were all clustered together as
                            >> if they all happened in one single explosion. However in reality, there
                            >> was Amazon and eBay in the beginning -- the ecommerce killer app. Then
                            >> Wikipedia -- globally collaborative content authoring. And Skype -- the
                            >> global voice communication killer app. Then MySpace/Facebook -- the
                            >> global social network killer app. Then YouTube -- social video
                            >> broadcast.
                            >
                            > I actually never said they happened in one single explosion. But
                            > actually, you can see they do emerge in a particular time frame.
                            > Actually it's easier to see with the PC killer apps -- the first
                            > spreadsheet (VisiCalc) came out in 1979, and you can see that by about
                            > 1992 or so, you have all your killer apps, for that phase of the
                            > computing industry. For the internet, even though the internet was
                            > invented in 1983 (the TCP/IP protocol), no internet apps as we know them
                            > today came out for a long time. The first programs to come out weren't
                            > killer apps -- they didn't stick. The first internet apps were things
                            > like FTP and Telnet. Telnet didn't stick and FTP seems to have been
                            > subsumed into other programs (like Dreamweaver), so technically it is
                            > still around. IRC is still around but seems to serve mainly as a
                            > command-and-control system for spambots. The HTTP protocol and the first
                            > web browser were invented in 1989, but it took many years from there
                            > before we got anything resembling the modern "web application". So you
                            > can see, there is a definite timeframe, during which certain
                            > applications emerge, and they don't emerge before or after.
                            >
                            > So, whether you consider the applications of a single computing era to
                            > constitute a "single explosion" probably depends on what scaling factor
                            > you use on the x axis of your timeline -- make it small and they will
                            > appear all spread out, make it big and they will seem to all blur
                            > together.
                            >
                            >> New web/internet killer apps have been showing up every 1-2 years for
                            >> the last 15. Who is to say that we are at the end?
                            >
                            > Well, me I guess -- that's what I'm saying. So there are people who say,
                            > for example, that virtual worlds, things like Second Life, will become
                            > killer apps. And maybe? I suppose. I'm doubtful, because to me it
                            > doesn't seem like virtual worlds are really bandwidth-constrained, the
                            > problem they have is that the social interaction just isn't done in a
                            > way that appeal to "everybody", to a mass audience. So first, about the
                            > bandwidth issue, if the problem with virtual worlds was lack of
                            > bandwidth, then virtual worlds will become compelling when the bandwidth
                            > crosses the necessary threshold. On the other hand, if the issue is
                            > social interaction, then virtual worlds might never get too far beyond
                            > "niche" status, which is where they are now -- virtual worlds are
                            > essentially multi-player video games, and depending on what the "game"
                            > is, they appeal to one group of people or another. For example World Of
                            > Warcraft is very appealing to people who enjoy that type of video game.
                            > Second Life is appealing to people who like a different type of video
                            > game (the object of the game being, apparently, to buy and sell 3D
                            > models). We haven't seen any virtual world that appeals to "everybody"
                            > and catapulted itself into "killer app" status. The question is whether
                            > we ever will. Maybe once there is enough bandwidth, Second Life will
                            > become compelling to the masses. (Naah, I doubt it). Maybe someone will
                            > invent a new social interaction system that is compelling. (Doubtful,
                            > but possible). If you just want to socialize with people on the
                            > internet, programs like Skype or Facebook or even Twitter seem much more
                            > compelling, and are all here already.
                            >
                            > Adrian Cockcroft says the killer apps in the mobile device space are
                            > just being developed now. That's another phase change in the industry --
                            > from the PC/laptop form factor to the cell phone form factor, made
                            > possible by Moore's Law and the continued miniaturization of computing
                            > technology.
                            >
                            > And I must admit, I haven't been following what's been going on in the
                            > mobile world all that much. So I can't really say how much of the
                            > "killer app space" has been explored for mobile devices so far. I know
                            > the Japanese have been working on cell phone apps for ages. And I can
                            > understand why the iPhone was so successful because the user interface
                            > on my cellphone is dreadful... so there was a huge opportunity for
                            > someone to come along and design a cell phone that was actually easy to
                            > use -- and Steve Jobs excels at that kind of thing, not to mention style
                            > and elegance.
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Paul King <email@...> wrote:
                            >>
                            >> On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck wrote:
                            >>> I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                            >>> prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the
                            >>> internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the
                            >>> next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the
                            >>> Internet??
                            >>
                            >> On Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:21 pm, Wayne Radinsky wrote:
                            >>> Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be -
                            >>>
                            >>> * Robotics -> tactile interaction between computers
                            >>> and the physical world, or
                            >>> * Medicine -> interaction between computers and the
                            >>> human body (at the molecular level), or
                            >>> * Artificial intelligence
                            >>>
                            >>> Or maybe something else.
                            >>>
                            >>> What it won't be: traditional web/internet apps. It won't be another
                            >>> Amazon.com or Ebay.com or any whosawhatsamacallit.com, or a program
                            >>> that you download, to communicate on the internet in a particular
                            >>> way, like Skype or Bittorrent.
                            >>>
                            >>> The type of application that we have, for the last 10 or 15 years,
                            >>> thought of as the "web" or "internet" application is basically done.
                            >>> We've got our Google, our Gmail, our Wikipedia, our Amazon, our Ebay,
                            >>> our Bittorrent, our Skype, our Movable Type, our Flickr, our Youtube,
                            >>> our Facebook, our Craigslist, our, I don't know, IMDB, but you get
                            >>> the idea -- We've already got them all.
                            >>
                            >> To view the technology world this way is to confuse the core idea that
                            >> drives a "killer app" with its user interface modality.
                            >>
                            >> Robotics and medicine are examples of new user interface modalities.
                            >> Robotics is suer interaction via macro-scale mechanical sensors and
                            >> effectors. The medical nanotech example is user interaction via
                            >> nanoscale
                            >> electrostatic/mechanical sensors and effectors.
                            >>
                            >> A new user interface modality always has the potential to lead to new
                            >> killer
                            >> apps, simply because it makes new applications possible that weren't
                            >> possible before, and because it does so in a discontinuous way that can
                            >> promote the type of technology revolution people call a "killer app".
                            >>
                            >> However to say that we've found all of the web/internet applications is
                            >> to
                            >> overlook some important patterns:
                            >>
                            >> 1) The "web/internet" refers to multi-way user-user and user-server
                            >> communication with a human scale interface (visual display, keyboard,
                            >> pointing device, buttons) on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. This
                            >> is a
                            >> very large range. To say that we are "done" with the web is to say that
                            >> global-scale human social interaction has evolved as far as it can.
                            >> 10,000
                            >> years of evolution of civilization has come to and end, right here in
                            >> 2008.
                            >>
                            >> 2) The web applications that were listed were all clustered together as
                            >> if
                            >> they all happened in one single explosion. However in reality, there was
                            >> Amazon and eBay in the beginning -- the ecommerce killer app. Then
                            >> Wikipedia -- globally collaborative content authoring. And Skype -- the
                            >> global voice communication killer app. Then MySpace/Facebook -- the
                            >> global
                            >> social network killer app. Then YouTube -- social video broadcast. New
                            >> web/internet killer apps have been showing up every 1-2 years for the
                            >> last
                            >> 15. Who is to say that we are at the end?
                            >>
                            >>> the next killer applications ... will be something else,
                            >>> they will belong to a different class of applications -- just as
                            >>> "web/internet apps" belong to a different class of applications from
                            >>> traditional PC apps like spreadsheets.
                            >> They will emerge after
                            >>> the next "phase change" in computing technology.
                            >>
                            >> This reasoning makes a misleading distinction between "traditional PC
                            >> apps"
                            >> and "web/internet apps" to support the conclusion that there is a
                            >> sequence
                            >> and we are due for the next phase.
                            >>
                            >> The reason innovation in "traditional PC apps" plateaued is because there
                            >> is
                            >> only so much that individuals can do by themselves with a computer
                            >> keyboard. However once other people, companies, and organizations were
                            >> brought into the mix on a global scale with the internet, the
                            >> possibilities became as great as civilization itself. We are just at the
                            >> beginning of using social media to reorganize global civilization and
                            >> culture.
                            >>
                            >> It is also important to note that from the user's perspective, the
                            >> web/internet is really an extension of the "traditional PC app" platform,
                            >> and not a new platform. Arguably, the web browser is a "traditional PC
                            >> app"
                            >> that opened up an entirely new world. Many internet killer apps, such as
                            >> Amazon, eBay, and Facebook, are essentially plug-ins to the web-browser
                            >> killer app. (And the traditional PC apps are just plug-ins to the PC as
                            >> killer app for the microprocessor.) Applications like Skype and
                            >> massively
                            >> multiplayer online games (World of Warcraft) are closer to traditional PC
                            >> apps than they are to websites because of their sophisticated client-side
                            >> component, but they add the new twist of global social interaction that
                            >> has
                            >> made them so compelling.
                            >>
                            >> All of this is not to say that robotics and nanotechnology won't enable
                            >> some
                            >> killer apps of their own. However robotics is already all around us and
                            >> is
                            >> generally unremarkable (automatic gates in parking lots, ATM machines,
                            >> elevators, VCRs, Roomba). Robotics tends to be a component of new
                            >> concepts,
                            >> but is not by itself a game changer. Nanotechnology will surely be
                            >> revolutionary, but getting there is slow going and genetics seems to be
                            >> where the action is at the moment.
                            >>
                            >> Artificial Intelligence is harder to assess since it is often defined as
                            >> that-which-hasn't-been-invented-yet. Statistical machine learning, AIs
                            >> current technological foothold, is slowly transforming how complex
                            >> systems
                            >> work and seems sure to lead to new breakthroughs -- quite possibly in the
                            >> web/internet realm by anticipating and optimizing social preference
                            >> patterns. So I agree there will be some killer apps there, but they
                            >> probably won't look like AI killer apps even though AI ideas are core to
                            >> their design. Google Search, Google News and Amazon recommendations are
                            >> examples of uses of statistical techniques that are already deployed but
                            >> don't seem like "AI".
                            >>
                            >> Paul
                            >> www.pking.org
                            >>
                            >>
                          • Wayne Radinsky
                            ... Sorry, I thought I was being clear on definitions. A killer app is an application so compelling that people will buy the hardware to get it. The original
                            Message 13 of 14 , Oct 15, 2008
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                              On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 4:19 PM, Paul King <email@...> wrote:
                              > Wayne Radinsky wrote:
                              >>
                              >> How "killer" does an app have to be to be called a "killer" app? Ok, so
                              >> you and Kevin define these in a different way than I do
                              >
                              > I thought I was using your definition, as implied from the list of
                              > web/internet apps you provided.
                              >
                              >> You can have a) non-killer apps -- which can still be quite useful to a
                              >> particular industry or niche audience, and b) new apps outside the scope
                              >> of traditional web/internet apps.
                              >
                              > I guess we need a definition of killer app. I was seeing a killer app
                              > as a use of technology that transforms a certain type of human activity
                              > and becomes adopted by broad swath of the population. I'd include in
                              > the list: PC, VCR, word processor, spreadsheet, CDROM, internet, cell
                              > phones, web browser, internet search, ecommerce, voip, social
                              > networking, wikipedia, ...
                              >
                              > If you define killer app as "b) something outside the scope of
                              > traditional web/internet apps," then by definition, no new web/internet
                              > app can be a killer app. Seems circular though.

                              Sorry, I thought I was being clear on definitions.

                              A "killer app" is an application so compelling that people will buy the
                              hardware to get it. The original killer app (which is where the term
                              comes from) was the spreadsheet (starting with VisiCalc).

                              I don't know where you got the idea that "b) something outside the scope
                              of traditional web/internet apps" was a definition of "killer app". I
                              was responding to your claim that I said, "To say that we are 'done'
                              with the web is to say that global-scale human social interaction has
                              evolved as far as it can. 10,000 years of evolution of civilization has
                              come to and end, right here in 2008." That's nonsense, because, you can
                              have a) non-killer apps -- which can still be quite useful to a
                              particular industry or niche audience, and b) new apps outside the scope
                              of traditional web/internet apps.

                              > I would put SecondLife broadly in the massively-multiplayer-online-game
                              > category. MMOGs have been a killer app for 3D graphics cards coupled to
                              > the internet. I don't think people are going to create 3D worlds to
                              > live in as the new paradigm, but 3D multiuser worlds as a form of
                              > entertainment is a natural evolution from text-based and 2D
                              > graphics-based fantasy games.

                              Well, I haven't been considering MMOG's as killer apps, because they
                              appeal to a niche, rather than mass, audience. Actually, some of the
                              "killer" apps I listed have questionable "killer"ness, because they
                              appeal to a somewhat niche audience. (E.g. IMDB appeals to movie buffs,
                              how much to a typical person?)

                              > MySpace/Facebook and YouTube are the most recent killer apps to emerge,
                              > I think, and they are only 2-5 years old. In 5 years, perhaps a new
                              > revolution will have dwarfed Facebook the way Facebook has now dwarfed
                              > AOL. AOL peaked in 2002 at 25 million subscribers and has gone down
                              > steadily ever since, now at 8 million or so. Facebook is at 110 million
                              > users.

                              The issue that you get into here, which Troy brought up first, when he
                              said, "8 years from now there will be a new bubble bursting, X will be
                              the new Facebook will be the new Friendster, will be the new AOL will be
                              the new telegraph" is that an "app" is somewhat fluid. VisiCalc, Lotus
                              1-2-3, and Excel are all spreadsheet programs, but they're not the same,
                              each time the newer program adds lots of functionality that could be
                              separate programs, but is integrated into the spreadsheet program.
                              Facebook has the functionality that Friendster had, but it integrates
                              ideas from lots of other programs, from AIM and RSS feeds and Twitter
                              and whatnot. At what point do you say, you have a "new" application?

                              I mention this because I would not be surprised at all if someone in a
                              few years says my post saying there would be no more "killer
                              web/internet apps" is wrong because of app X, when app X is in some
                              sense just a newer version of one of the apps I listed. Like if there's
                              a new social networking app that displaces Facebook, does that mean I'm
                              wrong, or not, because social networking websites exist now and thus you
                              can't say any new social networking website constitutes a new "killer
                              app"?

                              And of course, you can ask the reverse question. If all the
                              functionality of program X gets added to program Y and program X
                              disappears, does that mean X wasn't a killer app. (for example,
                              if Twitter's functionality gets added to Facebook).

                              It seems that applications are put together from a set of ideas that are
                              "in the air" at any given time, and it's kind of random who has and who
                              doesn't have the magic combination of features that gets their
                              implementation to catch on and become popular. It's trial-and-error.
                              Darwinian evolution, only faster.

                              Anyway, all this debate over word definitions is getting tiresome. But
                              hey, Kevin started it all when he said the Singluarity Summit was a
                              "so-called" Singularity Summit -- sparking a debate over the definition
                              of the word "singularity".

                              When I use the word "singularity" I define it as the point where machine
                              intelligence reaches the same level as human intelligence. So Kevin's
                              idea that a "singularity" could happen by something *other* than AI goes
                              right out the window -- by definition, only AI can cause a "singularity"
                              when "singularity" is defined this way, and the "Singularity Summit" is
                              not a "so-called" Singularity Summit but a real Singularity Summit.

                              But Kevin's using a different definition (what I'm calling a "phase
                              change"), hence this debate and nitpicking of word definitions.















                              On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 4:19 PM, Paul King <email@...> wrote:
                              > Wayne Radinsky wrote:
                              >>
                              >> How "killer" does an app have to be to be called a "killer" app?
                              >> Ok, so you and Kevin define these in a different way than I do
                              >
                              > I thought I was using your definition, as implied from the list of
                              > web/internet apps you provided.
                              >
                              >> You can have a) non-killer apps -- which can still be
                              >> quite useful to a particular industry or niche audience,
                              >> and b) new apps outside the scope of traditional web/internet apps.
                              >
                              > I guess we need a definition of killer app. I was seeing a killer app as a
                              > use of technology that transforms a certain type of human activity and
                              > becomes adopted by broad swath of the population. I'd include in the list:
                              > PC, VCR, word processor, spreadsheet, CDROM, internet, cell phones,
                              > web browser, internet search, ecommerce, voip, social networking,
                              > wikipedia, ...
                              >
                              > If you define killer app as "b) something outside the scope of traditional
                              > web/internet apps," then by definition, no new web/internet app can be a
                              > killer app. Seems circular though.
                              >
                              > I would put SecondLife broadly in the massively-multiplayer-online-game
                              > category. MMOGs have been a killer app for 3D graphics cards coupled to the
                              > internet. I don't think people are going to create 3D worlds to live in as
                              > the new paradigm, but 3D multiuser worlds as a form of entertainment is a
                              > natural evolution from text-based and 2D graphics-based fantasy games.
                              >
                              > MySpace/Facebook and YouTube are the most recent killer apps to emerge, I
                              > think, and they are only 2-5 years old. In 5 years, perhaps a new
                              > revolution will have dwarfed Facebook the way Facebook has now dwarfed AOL.
                              > AOL peaked in 2002 at 25 million subscribers and has gone down steadily ever
                              > since, now at 8 million or so. Facebook is at 110 million users.
                              >
                              > Paul
                              >
                              >
                              > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Wayne Radinsky" <waynerad@...>
                              > To: "Paul King" <email@...>
                              > Cc: <bafuture@yahoogroups.com>; <keck200605@...>
                              > Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2008 2:17 PM
                              > Subject: Re: The So-Called Singularity Summit
                              >
                              >
                              >> On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Paul King <email@...> wrote:
                              >>>
                              >>> To view the technology world this way is to confuse the core idea that
                              >>> drives a "killer app" with its user interface modality. [...]
                              >>
                              >> Again, I feel we are just debating semantics, not anything real. How big
                              >> does a "phase change" have to be, to be called a "phase change"? How
                              >> "killer" does an app have to be to be called a "killer" app? Ok, so you
                              >> and Kevin define these in a different way than I do. I feel I have made
                              >> my point, and there isn't much more to say about it.
                              >>
                              >>> To say that we are "done" with the web is to say that global-scale human
                              >>> social interaction has evolved as far as it can. 10,000 years of
                              >>> evolution of civilization has come to and end, right here in 2008.
                              >>
                              >> You can have a) non-killer apps -- which can still be quite useful to a
                              >> particular industry or niche audience, and b) new apps outside the scope
                              >> of traditional web/internet apps.
                              >>
                              >>> 2) The web applications that were listed were all clustered together as
                              >>> if they all happened in one single explosion. However in reality, there
                              >>> was Amazon and eBay in the beginning -- the ecommerce killer app. Then
                              >>> Wikipedia -- globally collaborative content authoring. And Skype -- the
                              >>> global voice communication killer app. Then MySpace/Facebook -- the
                              >>> global social network killer app. Then YouTube -- social video
                              >>> broadcast.
                              >>
                              >> I actually never said they happened in one single explosion. But
                              >> actually, you can see they do emerge in a particular time frame.
                              >> Actually it's easier to see with the PC killer apps -- the first
                              >> spreadsheet (VisiCalc) came out in 1979, and you can see that by about
                              >> 1992 or so, you have all your killer apps, for that phase of the
                              >> computing industry. For the internet, even though the internet was
                              >> invented in 1983 (the TCP/IP protocol), no internet apps as we know them
                              >> today came out for a long time. The first programs to come out weren't
                              >> killer apps -- they didn't stick. The first internet apps were things
                              >> like FTP and Telnet. Telnet didn't stick and FTP seems to have been
                              >> subsumed into other programs (like Dreamweaver), so technically it is
                              >> still around. IRC is still around but seems to serve mainly as a
                              >> command-and-control system for spambots. The HTTP protocol and the first
                              >> web browser were invented in 1989, but it took many years from there
                              >> before we got anything resembling the modern "web application". So you
                              >> can see, there is a definite timeframe, during which certain
                              >> applications emerge, and they don't emerge before or after.
                              >>
                              >> So, whether you consider the applications of a single computing era to
                              >> constitute a "single explosion" probably depends on what scaling factor
                              >> you use on the x axis of your timeline -- make it small and they will
                              >> appear all spread out, make it big and they will seem to all blur
                              >> together.
                              >>
                              >>> New web/internet killer apps have been showing up every 1-2 years for
                              >>> the last 15. Who is to say that we are at the end?
                              >>
                              >> Well, me I guess -- that's what I'm saying. So there are people who say,
                              >> for example, that virtual worlds, things like Second Life, will become
                              >> killer apps. And maybe? I suppose. I'm doubtful, because to me it
                              >> doesn't seem like virtual worlds are really bandwidth-constrained, the
                              >> problem they have is that the social interaction just isn't done in a
                              >> way that appeal to "everybody", to a mass audience. So first, about the
                              >> bandwidth issue, if the problem with virtual worlds was lack of
                              >> bandwidth, then virtual worlds will become compelling when the bandwidth
                              >> crosses the necessary threshold. On the other hand, if the issue is
                              >> social interaction, then virtual worlds might never get too far beyond
                              >> "niche" status, which is where they are now -- virtual worlds are
                              >> essentially multi-player video games, and depending on what the "game"
                              >> is, they appeal to one group of people or another. For example World Of
                              >> Warcraft is very appealing to people who enjoy that type of video game.
                              >> Second Life is appealing to people who like a different type of video
                              >> game (the object of the game being, apparently, to buy and sell 3D
                              >> models). We haven't seen any virtual world that appeals to "everybody"
                              >> and catapulted itself into "killer app" status. The question is whether
                              >> we ever will. Maybe once there is enough bandwidth, Second Life will
                              >> become compelling to the masses. (Naah, I doubt it). Maybe someone will
                              >> invent a new social interaction system that is compelling. (Doubtful,
                              >> but possible). If you just want to socialize with people on the
                              >> internet, programs like Skype or Facebook or even Twitter seem much more
                              >> compelling, and are all here already.
                              >>
                              >> Adrian Cockcroft says the killer apps in the mobile device space are
                              >> just being developed now. That's another phase change in the industry --
                              >> from the PC/laptop form factor to the cell phone form factor, made
                              >> possible by Moore's Law and the continued miniaturization of computing
                              >> technology.
                              >>
                              >> And I must admit, I haven't been following what's been going on in the
                              >> mobile world all that much. So I can't really say how much of the
                              >> "killer app space" has been explored for mobile devices so far. I know
                              >> the Japanese have been working on cell phone apps for ages. And I can
                              >> understand why the iPhone was so successful because the user interface
                              >> on my cellphone is dreadful... so there was a huge opportunity for
                              >> someone to come along and design a cell phone that was actually easy to
                              >> use -- and Steve Jobs excels at that kind of thing, not to mention style
                              >> and elegance.
                              >>
                              >>
                              >>
                              >>
                              >>
                              >>
                              >> On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Paul King <email@...> wrote:
                              >>>
                              >>> On Fri, Oct 10, 2008 at 6:45 AM, Kevin D. Keck wrote:
                              >>>>
                              >>>> I'm afraid, Wayne, that I don't understand why you would say "my
                              >>>> prediction is that there will be NO new killer apps in the
                              >>>> internet/web application space. Ever." And then you say "until the
                              >>>> next phase change". The next phase change will take us off the
                              >>>> Internet??
                              >>>
                              >>> On Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:21 pm, Wayne Radinsky wrote:
                              >>>>
                              >>>> Yes, exactly. The next revolution could be -
                              >>>>
                              >>>> * Robotics -> tactile interaction between computers
                              >>>> and the physical world, or
                              >>>> * Medicine -> interaction between computers and the
                              >>>> human body (at the molecular level), or
                              >>>> * Artificial intelligence
                              >>>>
                              >>>> Or maybe something else.
                              >>>>
                              >>>> What it won't be: traditional web/internet apps. It won't be another
                              >>>> Amazon.com or Ebay.com or any whosawhatsamacallit.com, or a program
                              >>>> that you download, to communicate on the internet in a particular
                              >>>> way, like Skype or Bittorrent.
                              >>>>
                              >>>> The type of application that we have, for the last 10 or 15 years,
                              >>>> thought of as the "web" or "internet" application is basically done.
                              >>>> We've got our Google, our Gmail, our Wikipedia, our Amazon, our Ebay,
                              >>>> our Bittorrent, our Skype, our Movable Type, our Flickr, our Youtube,
                              >>>> our Facebook, our Craigslist, our, I don't know, IMDB, but you get
                              >>>> the idea -- We've already got them all.
                              >>>
                              >>> To view the technology world this way is to confuse the core idea that
                              >>> drives a "killer app" with its user interface modality.
                              >>>
                              >>> Robotics and medicine are examples of new user interface modalities.
                              >>> Robotics is suer interaction via macro-scale mechanical sensors and
                              >>> effectors. The medical nanotech example is user interaction via
                              >>> nanoscale
                              >>> electrostatic/mechanical sensors and effectors.
                              >>>
                              >>> A new user interface modality always has the potential to lead to new
                              >>> killer
                              >>> apps, simply because it makes new applications possible that weren't
                              >>> possible before, and because it does so in a discontinuous way that can
                              >>> promote the type of technology revolution people call a "killer app".
                              >>>
                              >>> However to say that we've found all of the web/internet applications is
                              >>> to
                              >>> overlook some important patterns:
                              >>>
                              >>> 1) The "web/internet" refers to multi-way user-user and user-server
                              >>> communication with a human scale interface (visual display, keyboard,
                              >>> pointing device, buttons) on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. This
                              >>> is a
                              >>> very large range. To say that we are "done" with the web is to say that
                              >>> global-scale human social interaction has evolved as far as it can.
                              >>> 10,000
                              >>> years of evolution of civilization has come to and end, right here in
                              >>> 2008.
                              >>>
                              >>> 2) The web applications that were listed were all clustered together as
                              >>> if
                              >>> they all happened in one single explosion. However in reality, there was
                              >>> Amazon and eBay in the beginning -- the ecommerce killer app. Then
                              >>> Wikipedia -- globally collaborative content authoring. And Skype -- the
                              >>> global voice communication killer app. Then MySpace/Facebook -- the
                              >>> global
                              >>> social network killer app. Then YouTube -- social video broadcast. New
                              >>> web/internet killer apps have been showing up every 1-2 years for the
                              >>> last
                              >>> 15. Who is to say that we are at the end?
                              >>>
                              >>>> the next killer applications ... will be something else,
                              >>>> they will belong to a different class of applications -- just as
                              >>>> "web/internet apps" belong to a different class of applications from
                              >>>> traditional PC apps like spreadsheets.
                              >>>
                              >>> They will emerge after
                              >>>>
                              >>>> the next "phase change" in computing technology.
                              >>>
                              >>> This reasoning makes a misleading distinction between "traditional PC
                              >>> apps"
                              >>> and "web/internet apps" to support the conclusion that there is a
                              >>> sequence
                              >>> and we are due for the next phase.
                              >>>
                              >>> The reason innovation in "traditional PC apps" plateaued is because there
                              >>> is
                              >>> only so much that individuals can do by themselves with a computer
                              >>> keyboard. However once other people, companies, and organizations were
                              >>> brought into the mix on a global scale with the internet, the
                              >>> possibilities became as great as civilization itself. We are just at the
                              >>> beginning of using social media to reorganize global civilization and
                              >>> culture.
                              >>>
                              >>> It is also important to note that from the user's perspective, the
                              >>> web/internet is really an extension of the "traditional PC app" platform,
                              >>> and not a new platform. Arguably, the web browser is a "traditional PC
                              >>> app"
                              >>> that opened up an entirely new world. Many internet killer apps, such as
                              >>> Amazon, eBay, and Facebook, are essentially plug-ins to the web-browser
                              >>> killer app. (And the traditional PC apps are just plug-ins to the PC as
                              >>> killer app for the microprocessor.) Applications like Skype and
                              >>> massively
                              >>> multiplayer online games (World of Warcraft) are closer to traditional PC
                              >>> apps than they are to websites because of their sophisticated client-side
                              >>> component, but they add the new twist of global social interaction that
                              >>> has
                              >>> made them so compelling.
                              >>>
                              >>> All of this is not to say that robotics and nanotechnology won't enable
                              >>> some
                              >>> killer apps of their own. However robotics is already all around us and
                              >>> is
                              >>> generally unremarkable (automatic gates in parking lots, ATM machines,
                              >>> elevators, VCRs, Roomba). Robotics tends to be a component of new
                              >>> concepts,
                              >>> but is not by itself a game changer. Nanotechnology will surely be
                              >>> revolutionary, but getting there is slow going and genetics seems to be
                              >>> where the action is at the moment.
                              >>>
                              >>> Artificial Intelligence is harder to assess since it is often defined as
                              >>> that-which-hasn't-been-invented-yet. Statistical machine learning, AIs
                              >>> current technological foothold, is slowly transforming how complex
                              >>> systems
                              >>> work and seems sure to lead to new breakthroughs -- quite possibly in the
                              >>> web/internet realm by anticipating and optimizing social preference
                              >>> patterns. So I agree there will be some killer apps there, but they
                              >>> probably won't look like AI killer apps even though AI ideas are core to
                              >>> their design. Google Search, Google News and Amazon recommendations are
                              >>> examples of uses of statistical techniques that are already deployed but
                              >>> don't seem like "AI".
                              >>>
                              >>> Paul
                              >>> www.pking.org
                              >>>
                              >>>
                              >
                              >
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