Fighting, feeding, fornication

Nowak bookIf you’ve ever wondered about the origin of technology that’s entered everyday life – or what’s coming next – then focusing on “the shameful trinity of needs” is probably a good place to start.

That’s the proposition of Canadian tech journalist Peter Nowak who believes the military-industrial complex, the fast food industry and porn merchants have driven development in ways that we often don’t realise.

He makes a compelling case in his book Sex, Bombs and Burgers: How War, Porn and Fast Food Shaped Technology As We Know It.

It’s packed with humour and fabulous stories such as how “one giant leap for mankind” brought us better hospital food and stricter quality control, and why the adult-film industry will help bring about better robotic limbs.

Nowak was interviewed earlier this month by my colleague Jamillah Knowles for an edition of her Outriders radio show

Making new Kinections
The perfect illustration of Nowak’s notions came at the offices of Microsoft earlier this week when members of the Online News Association were shown the gesture and voice-driven Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360 game system.

The company behind the interface is PrimeSense, an Israeli outfit whose founder, Aviad Maizels, was the head of an R&D tech section for Israel’s military intelligence service.

The embedded cameras in the Kinect Xbox are paired with a projector that emits infrared light in a speckle pattern. The camera looks for distortions in the pattern to decipher gestures and hand movement

Kinect also responds to voice commands and points the way to a world envisioned by Maizels where natural movement controls devices and where keypads and controllers become redundant. It certainly puts a different complexion on waving and shouting at the telly.


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