How will people react to a little robot that just needs a little help getting where it wants to go? Cute. For another take on our relationship to lifelike robots, check out this video and my thoughts at the time. It's foolish, I know.
ETech, the emerging technology conference, is underway and according to the O'Reilly, its corporate parent, the welcome talks up a favorite theme of mine: in an age of abundance, less is more.
This year's theme is the Attention Economy. [Rael] Dornfest noted that
there is an abundance of available data now, 'the data web is
incredible' and effectively dealing with it is becoming increasingly
important. We've also got information overload in our personal
applications and Dornfest showed a screen montage of the varioius
inboxes and newsfeeds and calendars and buddy lists and to-do lists on
stickies that lived on his desktop, and I think most of us in the
audience could relate. I know I felt my stress level rising. Then he
switched to a blank blue screen, and we collectively sighed a breath of
'Attenuation is the next aggregator,' predicted Dornfest. 'I think
there are some great businesses to be built on giving you less.'
Rael Dornfest is the program chair for ETech and the CTO of O'Reilly Media.
Edward Castronova discusses moral choices
in the context of multi-player online gaming.
As an economist, he has studied
online gaming environments extensively because they offer a level
playing field on which economic theory can play out. EverQuest, one of
the most popular games, has a thriving off line economy where real
money changes hands. In fact, Castronova has ranked the gross national
product of EverQuest at $2,266, making it the 77th richest country in
the world according to this highly recommended story in the publication Walrus.
As the author of the Walrus story points out, the economist in Castronova didn't just study countries, he discovered one.
What's real and what's not real, as Castronova says in the Walrus story, has a lot to do
with the value we ascribed to things, which appears to spill over into the ethics
on display in these worlds. Some values aren't neutral. Perhaps its not such a big leap, then, for the economist in Castronova to believe The Horde is Evil.