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Startup Magic Leap Hires Sci-Fi Writer Neal Stephenson As Chief Futurist 48

First time accepted submitter giulioprisco writes Magic Leap, a secretive Florida augmented reality startup that raised $542 million in October, hired renowned science fiction writer Neal Stephenson as its "Chief Futurist." Stephenson offers hints at the company's technology and philosophy: "Magic Leap is bringing physics, biology, code, and design together to build a system that is going to blow doors open for people who create things." According to the Magic Leap website, their Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal technology permits generating images indistinguishable from real objects.
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Startup Magic Leap Hires Sci-Fi Writer Neal Stephenson As Chief Futurist

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  • I believe it! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QilessQi ( 2044624 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2014 @09:16PM (#48622683)

    According to the Magic Leap website, their Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal technology permits generating images indistinguishable from real objects.

    ...provided the real objects are themselves images. Look! That simulated JPEG looks exactly like a real JPEG!

    • It's probably BS, but what isn't?

    • Re:I believe it! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2014 @10:31PM (#48623069) Homepage

      Yes, actually to be honest that doesn't sound like you uncovered a secret meaning, that sounds like the top shelf, most obvious understanding of exactly what they literally said, which turns out to mean just what it sounds like.

      If you've ever seen big-budget films with CGI, and low-budget films with CGI, then you can understand that current technology does not include a system that automatically includes generated images that look real. Or as you put it, that look like "simulated JPEGs." Using current tech, the systems just don't do that. You have generate the objects, and then fiddle with every frame and if you spend millions of dollars per scene, you can finally make it close to seamless. They're talking about doing it without extra post-CGI processing and prettying. In that world, the low-budget films would have perfect generated objects because it would be a basic tool capability and not a human-intensive artistic process.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Generating the images is technically very easy the real problem in animation is generating the motion, the interaction between animated objects. The logical push in that direction is the creation of virtual robots, digital actors that would act out the animation script (not just people, but all movable artefacts). Once the motion and interaction is established and achieves the desired story telling goal, it is just a repeated process of adding more and more visual finishes on the existing interactions.

      • by QilessQi ( 2044624 ) on Thursday December 18, 2014 @07:55AM (#48624713)

        I was actually going for the +1 Funny. How the heck did I get modded Insightful? :-(

    • by synaptik ( 125 ) *
      Ceci n'est pas une pipe.
    • According to the Magic Leap website, their Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal technology permits generating images indistinguishable from real objects.

      ...provided the real objects are themselves images. Look! That simulated JPEG looks exactly like a real JPEG!

      I read it more like "this new gizmo permits generating anything! As long as you have some other way of generating it, then this thing won't get in the way at all!"

      The word "enables" sounds more like technology that actually does something, and even that's a stretch. The word "permits" sounds like it's just a link in an otherwise useless chain.

  • Jobs Lives (Score:3, Insightful)

    by saccade.com ( 771661 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2014 @09:55PM (#48622899) Homepage Journal
    Wow, $0.5B of investment without even showing a product? It sounds like they've perfected the Reality Distortion Field.
  • by iMadeGhostzilla ( 1851560 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2014 @09:59PM (#48622917)

    Leap Motion was heavily overhyped and after $40M of investments they produced basically nothing useful. I'm very skeptical of companies that only talk about how great product they *will* have, and this hire goes squarely in that direction. Apple at least keep quit until they have something that works.

    Another Leap in this category is Sinclair's QL -- though I'd take it any day over these other Leaps in their current form.

  • He is not seeing real people, of course. This is all a part of the moving illustration drawn by his computer according to specifications coming down the fiber-optic cable. The people are pieces of software called avatars. They are the audiovisual bodies that people use to communicate with each other in the Metaverse. Hiro's avatar is now on the Street, too, and if the couples coming off the monorail look over in his direction, they can see him, just as he's seeing them. They could strike up a conversation:

  • I imagine they'll keep him in a cage like an Oompa Loompa. They'll throw some leaves in his cage and poke him with a stick right before the tour group comes thru.

  • by Eponymous Coward ( 6097 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2014 @11:38PM (#48623379)

    I'm thinking Stephenson was second choice because Lenovo already hired Ashton Kutcher to be a product engineer.

  • by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Thursday December 18, 2014 @02:34AM (#48623893)

    Hah, he is just hoping they will finish Clang! for him in order to save him from angry investors....

  • If I'd told the careers adviser that I wanted to be a futurist I'd have got a clip round the ear and been sent to the headmaster. And when the other kids found out, they'd have given me a sound shoeing for being a right ponce.

    Still, nice work if you can get it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    On http://dilbert.com/2014-12-17/ Scot Adams tells us on his funny way what he thinks about jobs that rely on guessing the future.

  • I guess he needed an extra paycheck after writing that pile of awfull, Reamde.

    I made it 2/3rds deep before I realized I was wasting my life

    • by neminem ( 561346 )

      I enjoyed enough of Reamde that I didn't feel like it was a waste reading it. I did feel like it was essentially 3 different novels with 3 very different feels trying to coexist, and I liked two of them a lot more than the third, but overall, I thought it was a fun read. (That said, you chose a good time to stop reading, as the last third contained a higher ratio of the stuff I didn't think was as interesting.)

  • I hate when people are described as "futurists" and then presented as some sort of authority or given a salary with the title.

    Nothing but a long con.

    • I hate when people are described as "futurists" and then presented as some sort of authority or given a salary with the title.

      So do I. Because I didn't think of it first....

      Nothing but a long con.

      Yeppers. WIsh I could get in on it....

  • I fully expect the company will soon be subverted into working on a swordplay game.
  • Maybe as a first project, they can simulate Qwghlm for us.

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