This is the fifth chapter of Insights from the Future. This is a book I’m writing about technology, innovation, and people … from the perspective of the future. Subscribe to my newsletter mailing list to keep in touch and get notified when the book publishes. Previously published at Medium.
June 2, 2037
Urban Americans are experience massive delays and enormous frustration while traveling today thanks to incompatible releases of Google’s ARcore and Apple’s ARkit. The companies’ respective augmented reality cloud infrastructure is incompatible and non-communicative, and the result is mass walking confusion.
The situation is so bad, the president is compelling the two corporate giants to find a solution.
“If Apple and Google can’t figure it out together, we’ll figure it out for them,” President Ocasio-Cortez said today via her Twitter account. “Legislative solutions might be necessary sooner rather than later.”
The problem is virtual, but very real.
Most modern infrastructure is heavily dependent on smart glasses-delivered augmented reality as over 90% of Americans — and virtually all urban Americans — have adopted the technology. As such, we’ve become increasingly dependent Google’s and Apple’s backend technology … the augmented reality cloud.
The AR cloud is where all the virtual infrastructure such as digital signage, art of the commons, personal avatars, and metadata lives. Our smartglasses attach it so seamlessly to the “real” world that over time we come to see the virtual as substantial as matter-made artifacts like walkways, swim lanes on urban streets, and old-fashioned street signage, which still exists in some areas.
However, when it’s incompatible, people’s perceived appearances don’t match how they identify — a particularly hurtful problem, says the president — and public crowd-control infrastructure presents differently to different people.
Several people were already killed in New York today due to exceptional crowding and occasional panic as some refused to remove their smartglasses and embrace “true seeing,” as some call it, the NYPD reported.
“There is a translation layer between ARkit and other augmented reality cloud systems,” an Apple representative told me via Slack. “Unfortunately, not all systems have chose to integrate it.”
In other words, it’s Google’s fault, says Apple.
Naturally, Google has a slightly different take on the compatibility disaster.
“We’re in the process of updating ARcore to capture all the world’s augmented information,” Google CEO Cameron Grace said via message. “Unfortunately some companies have chosen to release updated software without going through the integration process.”
Controlling how people see the world, both virtual and “real,” is big business. Gartner estimated its value at over $3 trillion annually last October, because the company that controls how we view reality can, in a very real sense, directly influence what we see, what we miss, what ads we pay attention to, and therefore how we spend both our time and money.
President Ocasio-Cortez, however, has had enough.
“The U.S. government will be looking at implementing a public and open-source AR cloud which integrates data from all providers but also acts as a common default reality,” she announced later in the day.
Very likely the opposition parties will have a field day with that one.