Sometimes, life is funny. Like, when you come across a series of things that all seem to line up the same way. One day, you’ll be working on something new. Then, the next day, you’ll see something else that links directly to what you were doing. And, a couple of days later, a third thing will pop up out of the blue. But, they all line up – perfectly. You’ll make this amazing discovery. ‘Hey! These all point the same way. They work together!’
It is ‘synergy’ and it’s kind of funny. No, it’s strange. Or, chilling, maybe. Yes, chilling. Because when it happens, I get this chill down my spine. It feels like my brain is jumping up and down and cheering. It’s thrilled because it connected these separate pieces of knowledge. It connected them into a new pattern and oh, my brain loves to find new patterns! It’s ice cream and Cocoa Puffs, all mixed together, but way more fun. Besides, I prefer the generic Cocoa Roos anyway. Yuuummmm!
So… I was reading an article when I got those chills again. I was reading along, learning how the military sees the future of training, when my spine got that tingling chill. The article was: ‘The next training revolution’ by Col. Benjamin Wash. Colonel Wash is charged with creating the long-range vision of training for the military. He describes a future when the volume of information is completely overwhelming, when the paradox of choice impacts all of us, and when hybrid cyber technologies are a part of our daily lives. Of course, the paper applies mostly to the military. But his vision was very interesting. I’ve read that we are all getting smarter, but I don’t think we’re getting smart enough to deal with all that the Colonel foretells.
And, then the Colonel drops this bomb: “So in planning to the future, what timeline should we use? Five years is too short, it’s already in the Defense Plan. Thirty years, perhaps too ambitious, we could all be in the singularity by then. The number we propose is 20. How do we train to 2031? What will our soldiers look like in that year?”
Heck, forget about my freaky brain trips. That quote is chilling all by itself. What will soldiers look like? In 30 years, we ‘could all be in the singularity’? … Major chills … Of course, the singularity Wash refers to is the brain child of Ray Kurzweil. At some point in the near future, Mr Kurzweil predicts there will be a day when advances in technology are coming so fast that it is impossible for any of us to keep up. By 2029, he predicts we will have a computer as powerful as a human brain and that by 2040, we will have a single computer as powerful as the entirety of humanity. He may seem crazy sometimes, but he’s been honored by presidents Clinton, Reagan, and Johnson, so he’s got some street cred.
The advances in biotechnologies, nanotechnology, and robotics will converge. They will advance together. A positive feedback loop. Synergy. I’m not sure if it’s ice cream and Cocoa Roos, but there’s definitely alignment involved. The result is a world that is either wondrous or awful (or both). I remember hearing Kurzweil speak at the 2008 Game Developer’s Conference. You can actually see parts of that talk in his movie, The Transcendent Man. That man is all about chills… But, what’s really freaky is that he’s not alone in his predictions. Mainstream media is starting to pick up on it and you can even see similar themes in the recently released XMen: First Class.
So, what’s the point?
I’m not sure what to make of the singularity. It’s chilling for sure. But, I did realize something really significant in all of this. I realized that game design, learning theory, and psychology line up a lot more than we care to admit. And, I’m becoming convinced that the reason we play games and the things that improve learning are really one in the same. So, I don’t know what the future of humanity holds, but I’m pretty sure I know what the future of game design is.
And, that’s what gave me the chills … You go, brain!