Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Augmented reality, sex, and beer

I love beer.
I love sex.
I could learn to love augmented reality.

But none of those belong in a young child's classroom.

If the goal is to increase testable content knowledge that will raise CCCS test scores to Duncasmic levels (and sell a few more toys along the way), well, you got me there.

If the goal is to help children discover the world, love its richness, and become reasonably happy citizens, we have a problem.

The less glass between the ant hill and the owner of the young neurons staring at it, the more real and complex it becomes.

This takes time, of course, and I suppose AR could deliver a child to some goal sooner.
"Mommy, Mommy, look, bugs!"
"Yes, let Mommy show you how to identify them."
The mother aims her device over the anthill. A reassuring voice rises from glass--
This is a colony of  Formica accreta ants. I have added it to your child's log of tagged organisms.

The young woman pauses a moment, watching as her child starts to poke the anthill. "But are they dangerous?"
There have been no recorded instances of fatal interaction, but there is always the remote possibility of an allergic reaction.
She gasps as she scoops up her daughter. "Thank you, Siri!"

She slips hear ear buds back on, hits her Soothe Me Now playlist, and heads back to her climate controlled car.

Back at school, the child will have a beautiful photo to show, and a story to tell.
She'll look, sound, and feel smarter.

Credit: Steve Paine, via CC

And in the new human world where "look, sound, and feel" triumph over the rich aromas of life (and the fetid smells of mortality), another child gets lost in our limited human universe.

It's a pretty amazing place out there, this natural world. Augmented reality can be an amazing tool for those among us who still have a reasonable grasp of the vastness of the universe (or who at least admit that what's real surpasses anything we can imagine).

We are not the creators of the universe, nor are we just spectators. We cannot augment the natural world, just the blinders our machines have put on it.

Even beer and sex have their limitations.

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