Project Overview

The Virtual Information Technologies (High Level) Model/Map

Introduction - I have initiated a major research project in which my objective is to define the concept of Virtual Information Technology (a big picture view). In this document I will: introduce the concept, identify some of its significant components and name some of the key players.

It’s a huge concept that has hundreds of components and converging technologies. It’s becoming like a living organism, every component affects every other component. To give you some idea of the scope of Virtual Information Technologies, I have created a model that has about 200 components on it and is growing almost daily. When printed, it spans a sheet of paper 36 by 46 inches and my notes are currently about 100 pages. However, for this document, I will only extract some of the key points and I hope too much is not lost in the summarization.

There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. It seems that most people are focused on just a small portion of the puzzle and are mostly unaware of what the “big picture” looks like. This is understandable because one piece of the puzzle can consume most of one’s time. So how is this problem solved? Create a “hive mind”, a group of forward thinking people who are focused on their individual specialty but collaborate on the “big picture”.

Virtual Information Technology is fragmented and many of the pieces of this puzzle will come together to produce some amazing results. As a result of studying the “big picture” view of Virtual Information Technologies, it will result in a greater awareness of the approaching mega technological tsunamis. From that knowledge we will benefit immensely.

So what is Virtual Information Technologies? Everything boils down to information. Information Technology has evolved over the last 50 years or so and is entering a new exciting phase. Ray Kurzweil, in his book, The Singularity is Near says it this way, “Everything—including physical products, once nanotechnology-based manufacturing becomes a reality in about twenty years—is becoming information”. (ref. SN, p.. 56)

The definition of Virtual Information Technologies will constantly change. For example, a recent documentary introduced the concept of the World Wide Mind, a direct mind-to-mind connection via the internet. The 22nd Century can be viewed at

Look back 1, 2 or 5 years ago and think of the all things we use in our daily lives that didn’t exist back then. Look at the major advances every year in cell phones, software, PCs etc. It has become increasingly difficult to just keep pace with our changing world. The rate of change is increasing at an amazing pace.

What will we have in the next 50 years? Read The Singularity is Near, and you will be amazed at the projected advances in technology for just the next 25 years. Kurzweil predicts that we’ll see the equivalent of a century of progress—at today’s rate—in only twenty five years.

Ray Kurzweil is truly a world treasure. The knowledge he shares in The Singularity is Near is of immense value to the future of mankind. He also publishes a daily newsletter that lists many of the exciting new breakthroughs that are happening every day. You can subscribe to it at In addition, the site has a treasure of archived articles. It’s one of my daily must reads. The new products and technologies coming online will astonish you.

The Virtual Information Technologies Model/Map.

The Singularity – So what is the Singularity? The following are a few key points from Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity is Near.

  • “It’s a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.” (ref. p.7)
  • “Understanding the Singularity will alter our perspective on the significance of our past and the ramifications for our future. To truly understand it inherently changes one’s view of life in general and one’s own particular life.” (ref. p. 7)
  • “The key idea underlying the impending Singularity is that the pace of change of our human-created technology is accelerating and its powers are expanding at an exponential pace.” (ref. p. 8)
  • “This book will argue, however, that within several decades information-based technologies will encompass all human knowledge and proficiency, ultimately including the pattern-recognition powers, problem-solving skills, and emotional and moral intelligence of the human brain itself.” (ref. p.8)
  • “Before the middle of this century, the growth rates of our technology—which will be indistinguishable from ourselves—will be so steep as to appear essentially vertical.” (ref. p. 9)
  • “There will be no distinction, post-Singularity, between human and machine or between physical and virtual reality. If you wonder what will remain unequivocally human in such a world, it’s simply this quality: ours is the species that inherently seeks to extend its physical and mental reach beyond current limitations.” (ref. p. 9)
  • “All the machines we have met to date lack the essential subtlety of human biological qualities. Although the Singularity has many faces, its most important implication is this: Our technology will match and then vastly exceed the refinement and suppleness of what we regard as the best of human traits.” (ref. p. 9)

Thinking Machines – I am really excited about the work being done at Numenta. They are developing smart software that mimics the human brain which is the brain child of Jeff Hawkins. In the article, Jeff Hawkins and the Human Brain, Business 2.0, January/February 2007, he states: “What Nementa is doing is more fundamentally important to society that the personal computer and the rise of the internet.” This is technology worth keeping following. For further information, I would recommend the book by Jeff Hawkins with Sandra Blakeslee, On Intelligence.

Virtual Humans – So what is a Virtual Human? There may be two answers to that. One is what they are today and the second is what they will become. Peter Plantec wrote the excellent book Virtual Humans, which gives us good insight into what they are and what they will become. The following is a few key points from his book.

  • “In my estimation, no force today will impact the future of mankind as much as thinking machines and virtual humans.” (ref. p. 3)
  • “Virtual humans are animated characters that emulate human behavior and communication. They’re not artificially intelligent, but instead they use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to fake real intelligence better that the best Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs. Better than that, they can emulate a range of human behaviors nicely. Academically they’re known as embodied conversational agents or ECAs.” (ref. p. 3)
  • “It’s inevitable that V-people will become the universal interface.” (ref. p.3)
  • “In simplest terms a virtual human is an intelligent computer simulation of human personality.” (ref. p. 4)
  • “There’re too much about clever technology and not enough about human personality.” (ref. p. 4)
  • “After all, consciousness is the illusion we want to project.” (ref. p. 4)
  • “Virtual Humans are great communicators. They will talk among themselves at light speed. It’s likely that they could form a hive mind in which all the knowledge of a billion virtual humans forms a gestalt that no single human could achieve. We could benefit from this greatly or we could be victimized by it.” (ref. p. 12-13)
  • “Virtual humans are our best shot at a truly universal man/technology interface.” (ref. p.13)
  • “Ultimately we have to be as comfortable with them as we are with other humans. That’s when the bridge will be most functional, opening up the world of technology to nearly everyone.” (ref. p. 97)
  • “Eventually, Virtual Humans will be our gateway to everything.” (ref. p. 199)

Today’s Virtual Humans (talking heads) have their benefits and their drawbacks. The technology is fragmented and requires a good bit of technical know how and time to assemble. However, today’s Avatars may transition into tomorrows Virtual Humans, those that can act independently on our behalf.

I would like to have a Virtual Human that could be my Virtual Assistant. One that could always be in touch with me be it over the cell phone, the Internet or even the telephone. The market for this would be tremendous. It would be like having a friend to talk to anytime. So what would it take to accomplish that? The following is a list of some of the requirements:

  • Self-Evolving
  • Self-Redefine
  • Self-Replicating
  • Emulate Fuzzy Human Process & Consciousness Behavior
  • Natural Network Face-Recognition
  • Real-Time Flowing Hair & Smooth Movements
  • Sophisticated Head Language
  • Set of Animated Hands
  • Track Where the User is Looking to Ensure Eye Contact
  • Face Tracking Eye & Face Recognition
  • Develop Technology that will Interpret Experience and Automatically Integrate it into the V-person’s Personality
  • Hardware-Assisted Voice Interactive Technology
  • Laughter
  • Self Learning
  • Full-Body Character
  • Sense & Communicate with People

Virtual Worlds are exploding. New things are being implemented everyday. Virtual Worlds are becoming so big that it is now takes up volumes of books and articles to adequately cover the subject. The following only scratches the surface. There are a several different types of Virtual Worlds.

The 3D Online Universe of Second Life

Second Life is a wonderful place. While there are others, I am only going to focus on it.

You will be amazed at the creativity seen in Second Life. There is something there for everyone. Second Life is not just one thing, it’s becoming everything. There are places to play and there are places for business, places to socialize with friends and families, places for meetings, places for education and much more. It is truly where one can have a “second life.” In fact, I am told that there are people who spend 60 to 80 hours a week in Second Life, working of course.

Second Life is going to become much bigger than most people realize. It will become the entry point for the Web (the web browser of tomorrow). It may well become the “web operating system” much like Microsoft Windows is for the PC. It will become the link between real-life and cyber-life. Second Life is becoming so important that not knowing how to enter and navigate it is like not knowing how to read. Only time will tell how important Second Life will become, but many people already depend upon it for their livelihood and that number is growing every day.

If you are not familiar with Second Life, there is a very good book called, Second Life, the official guide, by Michael Rymaszewski, Wanger James Au, Mark Wallace, Catherine Winters, Cory Onderjka, Benjamin Batsone-Cunningham, and Second Life residents from around the world. In the book, Second Life is defined as follows:

“Second Life is a virtual world. No, Second Life is a 3D online digital world imagined, created, and owned by its residents. But hang on, there’s more: critical authorities have defined Second Life as a Metaverse—dig that? Everyone on the same page? All the statements above are true. Second Life is basically anything you want it to be. It’s your virtual life, after all, and what you do with it is up to you.

Second Life is a virtual environment in which almost all of the content is created by users—people like you. You are the one who determines what Second Life means to you. Do you enjoy meeting people online, talking to them and doing things together in real time? Welcome to Second Life. Do you enjoy creating stuff and making it come alive? Welcome to second Life. Do you enjoy running a business and making money—real money? Welcome to Second Life. The list of possible Second Life activities is as long as you can imagine.”

Big companies, such as IBM are spending big money to build a presence in Second Life. InformationWeek reports, IBM Gets A Second Life, November 10, 2006, “IBM is set to invest $10 million to increase their presence in the market for technologies that enable so-called virtual worlds such as Second Life.”

Games - Virtual Worlds began forming in the Gaming World. Gaming grew from the single player shooter games to the online player games, to the MMORPGs (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), such as Everquest, World of Warcraft and Entropia Universe. Entropia Universe is not officially categorized as an MMORPG but it shares elements of regular MMORPHGs. Check out Wikipedia for much more information on the Entropia Universe and MMORPGs.

Social Communities such as YouTube have become a very popular free video sharing website which lets users upload, view, and share video clips.

Social Networking such as Myspace offers an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos. It also has an internal search engine and e-mail system.

Linkedlin is business focused and mainly used for professional networking. The main purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust. Search Wikipedia for much more in-depth definition of Social Networking and Social Communities.

Social Networking Web sites targeting health care are increasing in popularity. Several new companies have recently launched sites where patients and caregivers can interact in online communities reports Health IT World, Health Care Social Networking Web Sites Taking Off, February 7, 2007. Revolution Health, OrganizedWisdom, Dailystrength and The American Cancer Society are a few such examples.

MIT’s Technology Review, January, 8, 2007, reports that P&G is launching social networking Web sites to connect more with consumers. The report goes on to say: “P&G hopes to gain insight into consumer habits and interests by starting online forums for women to tell their stories and learn from each other about issues such as breast cancer and careers and for people who want to share their entertainment views.”

The Transformation - Homo Sapiens To Cyber Sapiens has already begun. As Chip Walter puts it in, Cyber Sapiens, Excerpted from Thumbs, Toes, and Tears, Walker & Co. Co 2006. Published on, October 25, 2006. “Our current situation is unlike anything nature has seen before because we are not simply a by-product of evolution, we are ourselves now an agent of evolution.” He goes on to write, “Each day the lines between biology and technology, humans and the machines we create are blurring. We are already part and parcel of our technology.”

So what is next, virtual reality, telepresence, digital implants and nanotechnology? Direct mind-to-internet communication is not that far off. Currently there are several mind-to-computer communication projects underway, such as reported in the ScienceDaily, Researchers Demonstrate Direct Brain Control of Humanoid Robot, “The humanoid robot saunters across the lab. Responding to cues from a graduate student's brain activity, the robot picks up one of the objects, and carries it to a location of the person's choice.” Neural Systems Lab, CSE University of Washington, December, 15, 2006
NewScientistTech reports, 'Mental typewriter' controlled by thought alone, “A computer controlled by the power of thought alone has been demonstrated at a major trade fair in Germany.” March 9, 2006
Don Melvin reports, We'll all be cyborgs someday, scientist says. “British professor foresees day when most people will be implanted with computer chips.” Austian American, December 23, 2006.
We will be assimilated! A scary thought today but 50 years from now it will be thought of as just another tool. Hopefully, we will have a choice. Our tools have changed the way humans go about their daily tasks, just like the invention of fire and the wheel did years ago. We just have to be aware of and protect ourselves against the “dark side.”

Summary - The rate of change is accelerating faster and faster. This presents both opportunity and challenge and both must be addressed. We are going to see as much technological change in the next 20 years as we have seen in the past 100 years.

Computing power will continue to double about every 12 to 18 months, probably faster, especially when the Quantum Computer comes online. What will your desktop look like in 50 years? I hope I am around long enough to find out. Everything will become faster, better and cheaper. Look at how fast the World Wide Web was formed. How long will it take to form the World Wide Mind?

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