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Google X Display Boss: Smartphones, Tablets, Apps Are "Mind-Numbing" 157

curtwoodward writes "Stop drooling over that new iPhone. Put away the fancy tablet. Because the real hardcore nerds find that stuff 'boring' and 'mind-numbing,' says Mary Lou Jepsen, head of the display division at secretive R&D lab Google X. At MIT's EmTech conference, Jepsen said the next generation of 'moonshot' tech is much more exciting and interesting. That includes Google X projects like the driverless car, Project Loon, a stratospheric balloon-based wireless network, and Google Glass."
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Google X Display Boss: Smartphones, Tablets, Apps Are "Mind-Numbing"

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  • by romit_icarus ( 613431 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:58AM (#45098703) Journal
    It looks like she might have overlooked the glaringly obvious fact that the entire reason why Google X and her job position exist is because of "mind numbing" technologies that serve as ad serving platforms that get in revenue for Google. Ask her to get driverless cars, balloons and a headpiece to start generating income!
  • Useful = boring (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fruitbane ( 454488 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:06AM (#45098733)

    She seems to be telling us that when technology finally becomes useful enough to be mainstream, it's boring. OK, fine, I can accept that, somewhat. But the point of developing something new and "exciting" is so that someday it will be mundane and boring. And when Google spends all their time on the new, that makes more room for others to innovate with the "old".

  • She has a point (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Camembert ( 2891457 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:08AM (#45098745)
    She has a point that it may be boring for intelligent engineers to work on yet another new, incrementally better iteration of a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Many consumerss, me included are not that in awe anymore of a somewhat better new generation of iphone, galaxy, ipad, thin laptop etc. They were very good before and are now a bit better. Hence her research might be interesting, but I am not sure that Google Glass will be the answer. Now I am not as cynical as many on /. - I think that moving towards near-invisible wearable computing is a very exciting next step and I am curious what she and companies like Apple will eventually come up with.
  • by MonkeyDancer ( 797523 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:53AM (#45098919)

    Driverless cars will not do very well in the winter. I live in an area where we can get snow 6 to 7 months out of the year. Snow on the car image sensors will make the car blind. Ice on the road will be nearly impossible for the car to distinguish. I wish I could be more optimistic but driverless cars will be as useful as google glass appears to be.

  • Re: Reener (Score:3, Interesting)

    by andy_spoo ( 2653245 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:16AM (#45098989)
    It's when you see someone stroking the side of it (to go through menus etc.) that makes the wearer look real creepy, especially if they're concentrating on the screen and haven't noticed there's a child standing in the front.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:16AM (#45098991)
    For better and/or worse, collecting and aggregating data is becoming so easy (or practically unavoidable) that I doubt there will be much difference in privacy between manual and automated cars (i.e. if there is any, it will only be by virtue of regulation). Already today, at this moment, most drivers are tracked by the cellphones they carry in their pockets, simply by virtue of associating with the nearest cell tower so incoming calls can be routed to them, and this creates a record of where you go and how fast you are going.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:30AM (#45099035) Homepage

    Maybe not so much excitement. Our vehicles have already learned to maintain speed, enhance braking, honk-and-flash when the door is opened from the inside after the key's been out of the ignition too long, detect road obstacles and now can take over parking.

    It's all incremental improvement, like the cinder-block-to-pocket-slate cell phone evolution.

    There are already vehicle "autopilot" systems good enough to allow the driver to stop looking at the road some of the time. Radar-controlled cruise control plus lane keeping is enough to allow that. But it's not enough to prevent accidents caused by even slightly difficult situations. Several car companies have shipped "driving assist" systems which can do that, but they've deliberately kept them from operating with no driver input. [youtube.com] Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and Audi have all stopped just before hands-off driving.

    The auto industry recognizes that there is a "deadly valley" that begins when a vehicle "autopilot" is good enough to allow the driver to stop looking at the road some of the time. On the other side of the deadly valley is fully hands-off autonomous driving, which Google almost has now. We will see commercilaly successful systems on the other side of the deadly valley within the next decade.

    Systems that operate in the "deadly valley" will make things worse, for obvious reasons.

  • What's Missing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) * on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:31AM (#45099041)

    Visicalc was invented in 1979.

    It was written by two hard-working geniuses who busted ass for months and months to get it to work. Visicalc changed the world.

    The reason they were able to write this software is because the Apple II had the tools to do so. If you had an Apple II, you had everything you needed to develop new software for it. Same goes for the PC.

    Mobile phones and tablets have no such tools. They are locked, proprietary devices forbidden to developers. They use locked, proprietary programming languages, obscure, flabby and inconsistent APIs and cannot communicate with anything but the "cloud."

    They also suck ass as computing platforms. Their operating systems are shit packed on top of shit, and their hardware is flimsy plastic shit to go with it.

    Mobile phones and tablets are fiddly little distraction machines that function as brightly colored noisy little pets. They are nothing more than over-engineered tamogatchis. They are useless for real work, especially compared to open platforms like the PC. At best, they are a good place to store phone numbers. They also give teenage girls a way to drain their parents' wallets by sending nonsense to each other 24 hours a day for $1500 a megabyte.

    The "post-PC world" is a marketing slogan designed to get you back on the upgrade treadmill and wanting the next version of the device you bought last month.

    The difference is mobile devices cannot replace or even occasionally substitute for the PC, because there is no mobile device software that even remotely compares to the world-changing technology the PC made possible.

    What was the last "visicalc-level" software title developed from scratch? I'm going to say the last of them debuted in the mid 1990s. With the exception of FOSS, there hasn't been shit developed for any platform since. It's like the fucking software industry was unplugged in the late 90s. (Gee, I wonder why?)

    The worst part is, anyone in their teens or early 20s right now is so distracted by Unity and HTML5 and Haskell and all the other flavors of proprietary dumbfuckery that they will never learn why things work on a computer.

    And that's a fucking shame.

  • Re:This just in (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday October 11, 2013 @06:33AM (#45099865) Homepage

    I desire to make a phone call, have it arrive within 10 minutes clean, take me to my destination and then allow me to forget it ever existed (screw parking), until I make the next call and wait 10 minutes (careful timing of making the call and walking to the pick up point could get that down to seconds).

    As for google glass, yeah I want some privacy invasive freak jamming adds into my eyeballs in accompaniment with maximum volume screaming "BUY THIS", all at random intervals, trust Google when they jump in bed with ALEC, FUCK THAT.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.