JaW-Dropping Sci-Fi Technology, IRL
I was watching the NVIDIA GPU technology conference. Founder Jensen Huang talked about the latest progress in computing technology. The talk was leading up to the release of a new chip, the Tesla V100. The chip is a huge leap forward in processing speed. It’s made for deep learning programs. It has 21 billion transistors to operate at 120 teraflops. (That’s 120 trillion math problems solved per second or something like that).
But before the big reveal of the new chip, Huang was demoing NIVIDA technology powering the future. One demo was of the HoloDeck. (Think of a conference call in a shared virtual reality, which obeys the laws of physics). Huang was standing on stage connected with three other people remotely in the HoloDeck. There was a huge screen behind the stage so the audience could see the virtual space. Huang looked epic with a silhouetted side profile.
Within the virtual space, the founder of Koenigsegg (Christian Koenigsegg) was showing a new hybrid electric hypercar. A car that goes 0 to 250m/h in 20 seconds. The car wasn’t just a beautiful rendering. The car was a full 3D, solid works style, realistic precision rendering of every part. This was a peek at the jaw-dropping technology of today.
New Technology, Classic Human Issues
Still, in the demo, there was a classic problem. It’s like the “can you hear me now” conversation made famous by Verizon Wireless commercials which started in 2002. At the NIVIDA conference, the problem was that in the 3D HoloDeck space you couldn’t tell the difference between people. Everyone has an avatar, but they all looked the same, like iRobot characters. Huang asks Christian Koenigsegg, “which one are you?” All three avatars pause then wave at the same time. You can’t tell who is who. It was made more confusing by an audio delay. After a little back and forth the sound was working. And Hunag asks Christian to “not breath like Darth Vader” which is pretty funny.
The best technology of our time still has basic experience problems. And in a way, it’s okay because we are genuinely amazed at what’s being done. We are just beginning to understand how to apply and remix all these new technologies. But we can’t stay here for long.
Critical Thinkers Need to Bring Perspective to Progress
As a leader, you can be both wowed and ponder on how to make experiences better. Imagine and reflect. What’s needed in the future is more critical thinkers, regardless of your domain expertise. Being a computer scientist, quantum chemist or astrophysics is cool, but it’s okay if that’s not you.
As sci-fi turns into reality creative leaders like you will need to solve very human problems that come out the most amazing technologies.
When you’re working on a new technology it’s hard to see the full experience you’re creating. It’s hard to see gaps when you’re in the middle of things. Even if you’re a great technologist getting fresh perspective takes effort.
Technology Worth Exploring
I referenced a lot of technology. Here is a list so you can explore more on your own.
• Hyper Car Koenigsegg
• HoloLens (not in post but cool)
• GPU technology conference
• What is a Teraflop?
• V100 Chip
• Can you hear me now?
Also published on Medium.