Dec 29 2011

Welcome To The Mirror

""){ ?> By Valkyrie Ice


“Such lenses — when coupled with a next generation smartphone — will enable us to simultaneously exist in both the “Real” and the “Mirror,” with a plethora of “superpowers” at our disposal, all enabled by augmented reality apps as well as real time mapping to virtual space…”


Welcome to the Mirror.

You are probably going “huh” right about now, but relax, sit back, and play Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

Then read this article.

Way back when, over two years ago, in the second article I wrote for H+ magazine, I spoke about a video game called Fallen Earth that used real topographic maps, and discussed the fact that Google was in the process of creating a “Mirror World” of the entire Earth. At the time, they were close to finishing the complete “street view” project. Well that project is finished, and as predicted, Google didn’t stop…

And if you read the previous article of mine, you’ll also recall I mentioned mapping the insides of buildings? Yes, Google is doing that as well.  In addition, browsing Google maps and Google Earth are becoming popular pastimes as people use the imagery to track down and share “geo-oddities”

I’ve also previously reported on Google’s plan for using quadrotors, the creation of low level aerial photos of all those areas which currently lack them, as well as the constantly growing number of 3d rendered buildings being added to the database daily by millions of Google users. Nor are they the sole player in this particular game, as C3 is offering ultra high quality 3d maps as well, based on declassified government reconnaissance technology, and even Microsoft is working on similar technology.

All of which brings us right back around again to the first link I provided up there. Sure, it’s a pretty lame game, more of a demonstration of the concept than a real First Person Shooter, but it’s the first of what is likely to be a completely new generation of games, and of game graphics engines, driven by real world data. Imagine merging the latest Call of Duty graphics engine with a Google mapped locale, enabling you to stage a “block war” with your friends, using your own neighborhood as a combat zone.

Sounds fun, hum? Now let me toss in another element to it — a Quadrotor. Imagine that not only are you using the Google maps recreation of your neighborhood for your shootout, but that you’re also using a quadrotor as your telepresence unit. Imagine that in addition to the static scenery like trees and houses, your game is real time, and the cars moving in the street and current activities around the neighborhood are also included and potential game changers. With a quadrotor as your POV cam, tracking your virtual avatar in the real neighborhood to provide that real time data for your “Mirrorworld” game, it’s more than possible — it’s likely to be a feature.

But such games are just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. I’ve talked previously about using such “Mirror” technology to enable you to visit an office halfway around the world to discuss business as if you were personally there. The needed sensor technology already exists, in the Kinect, to make it possible to animate a “real time” virtual avatar. We will inevitably create more advanced versions of the Kinect, and the adding of this technology to quadrotors has already happened in the lab.

When you also add in the latest developments in QLED displays, the probability of ultralight “VR” lenses should be readily apparent. That makes the use of “Avatars” even more likely, as we will need a “presence” in the “Mirror” outside of games. Such lenses — when coupled with a next generation smartphone — will enable us to simultaneously exist in both the “Real” and the “Mirror,” with a plethora of “superpowers” at our disposal, all enabled by augmented reality apps as well as real time mapping to virtual space, and inspired by a slew of video game “conveniences”, like “title bars” “tool tips” “minimaps”, and even “superhuman” vision, like telescopic, x-ray, microscopic, or low light vision. With a pair of lenses and a fully developed “Mirrorworld” such feats would be trivial.  The same goes for even more outlandish abilities such as “teleportation” that enables you to stay at home and visit anywhere in the world.

And if gaming, business, and all the rest leaves you cold, then imagine the educational potential of the “Mirror”. Not long ago, I spent a couple of hours touring Pompeii. I could do the same with NYC and Moscow, even Washington DC. In the not too distant future, I could likely do the same with the Guggenheim, or the Louvre. Imagine every museum and monument in the world — from the Forbidden Palace to the Sistine Chapel to the Taj Mahal — instantly accessible to any child in any school in any country. Imagine practicing your Japanese with a real Japanese tutor, or being given a tour of the Pyramids by an archeologist. With real time “Mirroring,” the entire world becomes an educational resource. Static photos will never convey the same impression of “being there” the way the “Mirror” will.

So yes, Welcome to the Mirror. Get comfortable. You are going to be living here soon.

  • By Donald B. Davis, December 30, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

    Your problem is? You are easily amused. And gullible. Google has totalitarian ambitions that you will not be liking ONE BIT once they slam down their Panopticon control grid, in co-operation with their BFF the NSA. Your techno-utopian delusions and juvenile cheerleading help only to forge chains for us all.

    There will be a Privacy Revolution, if Google etc can even be defeated. We will blind google, stab it right in its Eye.

  • By Linda Uresti, December 30, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

    I could see it happening, but I don’t think it will. Thousands of flying machines buzzing around people’s neighborhoods would downright anger many.

    More than likely google will put up their own satellites if they haven’t already. Once a company has their own satellites in space they can do whatever they want with them, including taking real time image shots from multiple angles in orbit, essentially creating a 3d map of an entire area. I know they’ve been working on a driverless car. Chances are in twenty years the majority of cars will be controlled by a central traffic system. All a company would need to have the sort of game you are talking about is a map of the area, and real time traffic data.

    It seems to me like such a thing would be kind of bland. Would would want to virtually go around their own neighborhood, when you could go to somewhere else.

  • By Valkyrie Ice, December 31, 2011 @ 5:53 am

    You are assuming they will still buzz then Linda. I’m rather confident that anti-noise harmonics will be incorporated into production models precisely to eliminate the droning buzz. They can silence a full sized helicopter with such technology, eliminating the noise on a drone would be much simpler. Also, don’t assume such drone would all be the size of a Parrot AR drone. A simple POV cam might only be the size of a golf ball, or smaller.

    As for going around you neighborhood, sure, I’d probably use a far more exotic locale. But I’m using a mundane example to make it easy to see the possibilities. If I had said, say Ankgor Wat, a lot of people would simply snort and say “yeah, whatever.” However, most people who have access to the article can probably google their own street and stare at their own house in street view. It makes the example harder to dismiss.

  • By star0, December 31, 2011 @ 10:50 am

    I like these ideas. They are totally plausible for the very near future. All it would take is some enterprising people to bring together the off-the-shelf technologies to make it all happen.

    As far as traveling to exotic locales, here’s a neat video I found that shows some possibilities (or, watch just about any movie these days — many of them have UAV takes):!

    If I were Yellowstone, whose tourism numbers were down the last I checked, I would purchase a small fleet of quadcopters (and appropriate control software) to rent out to people over the internet to explore the park. Another, more basic idea: cities could easily afford to put up small fleets of quadcopters to fly around and provide live video streams of what is going on in various locales — I personally would “visit” every city I could if such technology were available.

    Using a network of quadcopter and ground-based webcams, as well as huge computing resources and the appropriate scenery reconstruction algorithms to thread together and view scenes from different angles, “time travel” becomes possible: one could imagine a next, next generation version of Google Earth or Microsoft’s augmented reality maps technology ( ) allowing a user to enter space-time coordinates into Google Earth+ and have it “transport” the user to that particular location, to see exactly what happened when and where. Parts of the scenery not captured by the cameras could be filled in using good narrow AI (e.g. to work out what the seats look like inside a passing car, based on the make and model).

  • By Linda Uresti, January 1, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

    I’m afraid that I’m not talking about the noise val. I’m talking about the privacy aspect. People get angry when you get a picture of their front yard, much less taking video while flying over or through it.

  • By Chico Chico the Rainmaker, January 1, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    He cares nothing for privacy, yet he uses a pseudonym. He will be singing a different tune if he gets his comic book fantasy. It will redefine dystopia and make Orwell look like Beatrix Potter.

  • By Chico Chico the Rainmaker, January 2, 2012 @ 5:37 am

    I am a world traveler, mostly to developing nations where all this sick technophilia hasn’t taken over yet. Looking at a screen, even through ‘magic contact lenses’ is _not_ travel. It is sickening and sad to see someone willing to trade living judgment and and actual experience for high tech baubles – the price of which is abandoning all notions of privacy and human dignity. “Beyond Freedom and Dignity”, indeed. This feverish and almost ghoulish wide eyed technophilia is thankfully not all that realistic in the final analysis. We can’t feed 3/4 of the planet’s population adequately, and the clean water is running out everywhere. Yet we just HAVE to have magic contact lenses and a locust like hoard of miniature helicopters watching everyone? It takes a sick mind indeed to cling to such hellish visions.

  • By star0, January 2, 2012 @ 9:46 am

    @chico the rainmaker

    Although you addressed your comment to V.I., I feel compelled to respond, since it could just as well apply to what I wrote: although I have no evidence for how much people in the developing world have embraced video games and “technophilia”, there is ample evidence that they embrace the use of cellphones and smartphones, for example. I, too, am a world traveler, and I gotta tell ya, people in the developing world really dig smartphones. Maybe not the Kogi tribe down in Comombia, maybe not Buddhist monks up in a monastery somewhere; but, in general, they embrace them. For example, see this article about how people in Kenya are nuts about health apps for their smartphones:

    And see this article on how, in certain specific cases, people in countries like China, Brazil and India already use more advanced medical technology than even the U.S. and other first-world countries:

    As to “wide-eyed technophilia… takes a sick mind…”, one can make that comment about anything that causes one joy whatsoever: you enjoy a piece of music, and then someone says, “yeah, but what about the suffering in Africa.”; you enjoy watching a new movie, and then someone says, “how can you be happy when people in India are running out of drinking water?” You see, it’s not specific to `technology’ and `technophilia’, nor is it even specific to `materialism’ (economic, not philosophical). So where does it come from? Perhaps you can self-diagnose…

    Another comment I would make is that technology (not specifically `magic contact lenses’ and similar “fun” things) is likely to be the only thing that will save people in the developing world. And small UAV copters, which until recently were seen more as `toys’ or `hobbyist’ items than anything else, are a technology that could make a huge difference in their lives; see, for example, the Maternet project:


    And see also the work that Dean Kamen has done on purifying water:

  • By Chico Chico the Rainmaker, January 2, 2012 @ 10:44 am

    As usual, all you Born Again Fundamentalist Technophiles are utterly blind to the destruction of civil rights and the Totalitarian ends your glittering toys and comic book fantasies are bringing about. Technology does not improve the environmental crisis, it only compounds it. Your “Brave New World” has no privacy, no fundamental human dignity and no sense of the cultural and environmental damage contamination of culture entails. You are right in line with McDonalds and Coca Cola in laying waste to and homogenizing the entire world to Western destructive capitalist media and mores. A world with no privacy and total surveillance will ‘bake in’ a level of unspoken paranoia that won’t be fit for anything traditionally human to live in or value. Smart phones are a far cry from Mr. Ice’s magic contact lenses and total surveillance world. You would do well to think on that.

  • By Chico Chico the Rainmaker, January 2, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

    and just how many South Indians can afford an iPhone or Android? I was physically touring South India very recently, I did not see any smart phones. I met a wealthy business owner, he had an older Dell laptop and that was Quite Impressive for the area. Almost the entire nation of India lives on 1$ or less per day. Your arrogance and ignorance in assuming they are all running about with smart phones is appalling. The price of an iphone would house and feed a large entire family in India for a couple of _years_!

  • By Chico Chico the Rainmaker, January 2, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

    Mr. Ice wants to watch television for eternity. That is not appealing to any sane person. Images on a screen are _not_ reality.

    All this transhumanist noise, and it all boils down to nothing more than television, perhaps modestly interactive television.

    Just turn on your set, and pipe down.

  • By Valkyrie Ice, January 2, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    No psuedonym, Chico (or anonymous, as you originally called yourself before changing names every time you post) but a unique Identifier that has 25 years of googleable history behind it, all tied to my legal name, which will be changed when I can afford to do so. That is the difference between you and I. There are ten million of you, only one me.

    Two, yes, please do have fun bashing, since you can’t ever be bothered to do your research, because I have addressed every single one of those “concerns” you seem so “concerned” about in quite a few of the articles I have written over the years. But, you wouldn’t know that, being far to eager to troll than anything else. But hey, even you have a useful role, since you give me an excuse to post links to those articles. is an article by my friend Hank Hyena, and the attached discussion covers the “world hunger issue”. We are developing the means to eliminate hunger without a need for farmland of any sort, or need for human labor to be involved. The FASTEST solution to this problem is via the development of these technologies, specifically the ability to use 3d printers to create food in the same manner that they will be used to print organs, which could eliminate hunger within 15 years. specifically addresses the transition away from an economy of scarcity to one in which no material item retains any value, and in which material goods needed for individual survival are freely available to every human on the planet. Again, the fastest means to eliminate poverty is to eliminate the economy based on scarcity. 15-25 years as opposed to most of the century required by any scheme based on retaining material value and artificially maintained scarcity. discusses not only how new semantic search engines will automate an enormous number of “high status” jobs that are currently believed “safe” but will enable the ability to create personal software tutors for every member of the human race, eliminating ignorance and poor education. As education is the single most limiting factor in any individual’s ability to succeed, such tutors will vastly increase the pace of development of not only the “first world” but the entire globe. and cover the means that will eliminate the “elites” you fear so much while shows exactly why and how such transparency will be inevitable. shows how this is already underway.

    To be blunt, almost all of my work has been concerned with eliminating the very problems you have accused me of ignoring, by focusing on the methods which will produce the greatest results in the shortest amount of time. I prefer to inspire wonder and awe, instead of fear, because fear is a pretty useless emotion that serves little purpose other than trying to force people to hide under rocks. Which I suppose *is* the trolls natural habitat. Everything I have ever written about is a technology which either directly or indirectly will be a factor in eliminating human suffering for the entire world and bring about a future of freedom and individual liberty.

    So, Mr. Troll, thank you for opening your mouth and shoving your foot down to wiggle out your ass. I always love the opportunity to expose new readers to my views.

  • By Chico Chico the Rainmaker, January 3, 2012 @ 5:58 am

    Your plan to eliminate agriculture to end world hunger? We haven’t heard that kind of virulent insanity since MAO TSE DUNG!

    read that slowly and carefully to yourself, “eliminate agriculture to end world hunger”…

    this is sheer and unbridled INSANITY!

  • By Valkyrie Ice, January 3, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

    And you immediately jump to a hysterical argumentum ad absurdum. At what point did I say eliminate agriculture? I said no farm land would be needed. Simply because agriculture would be unnecessary does not mean it would be eliminated. Organically grown food is likely to always be with us, but will likely become a “hobby” as opposed to an *industry*. Simply put, 3d printers will allow the massive centralized industrial farming systems to be phased over to smaller decentralized and individualized farms allowing massive areas of current farmland to be repurposed or allowed to return to nature. There will be no need of massive INCREASES in farm land (or razing of places like the Amazon)to end world hunger.

    And Mr Troll, “I can’t wrap my mind around that concept” only indicates a failure on your part to comprehend facts and has absolutely no bearing on the reality of what is being developed..

  • By Michael Garfield, January 10, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

    Valkyrie, you do an admirable job of defending your techno-optimism. I appreciate that.

    What are we doing to do with all of the lost cameracopters? Will they recycle themselves? I suppose this would also require that we fully automate air traffic control (which seems like a great idea in principle, if a bit beyond the pale in practice, when we’re talking about potentially trillions of discrete mobile units).

  • By Privacy or Death, February 19, 2012 @ 6:23 am

    Google CEO Eric Schmidt Dismisses the Importance of Privacy

    Yesterday, the web was buzzing with commentary about Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s dangerous, dismissive response to concerns about search engine users’ privacy. When asked during an interview for CNBC’s recent “Inside the Mind of Google” special about whether users should be sharing information with Google as if it were a “trusted friend,” Schmidt responded, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

    Unfortunately, Schmidt’s statement makes it seem as if Google, a company that claims to care about privacy, is not even concerned enough to understand basic lessons about privacy and why it’s important on so many levels — from protection against shallow embarrassments to the preservation of freedom and human rights. In response to Schmidt, Security researcher Bruce Schneier referenced an eloquent piece he wrote in 2006 that makes the case that “[p]rivacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.” Schneier writes:

    For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that — either now or in the uncertain future — patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable.

  • By Angela Adams, June 18, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    I repair and conserve museum artworks and extremely old books for a living, no robot is _ever_ gonna do that…. it takes deep knowledge in the humanities and in chemistry, training, fine manual skills approaching a surgeon, and a highly refined _aesthetic sensibility_ … none of this is remotely capable of automation – not even in theory, needless practice.

Other Links to this Post