Jason J. Gullickson

Jason J. Gullickson

Some New Things

My last post alluded to projects that I consider to be the new things as distinct from the old things.

So what are these new things, exactly?

Virtual Reality Operating System (VROS)

Virtual reality isn’t anything new, but it has yet to live-up to the potential we saw in it back in the late 1980’s. Back then we didn’t have the technology for commodity VR, so we spent time dreaming up new applications and solving the problems we could solve while the hardware caught-up with our imaginations.

Now we have the hardware, but we seem to have lost almost everything else. Contemporary VR is cobbled together with layer after layer of abstractions, crippling the theoretical performance of the hardware. Worst yet is that most applications are designed using video game development tools and as such have inherited the video game industry model of separating the producer from the consumer.

I began designing VROS as an operating system for VR hardware, specifically cyberdecks. By treating the immersive interface as the primary system interface, VROS requires new user interaction paradigms, new authoring tools and new interfaces to existing systems. When I originally designed VROS it was impossible to imagine the inexpensive computing, display and sensor technology we have today, and the idea of a high-speed, always-on world-wide network seemed impossible. Now all of this is not only possible, but can be had for a couple hundred dollars.

Wo while the idea of VROS is 30 years old, it’s implementation was never complete. Since contemporary VR doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what VROS was designed to do, I consider it one of the new things. It may be the most ambitious project on this list, but it may also be the most revolutionary, and it’s about time I got back to it.

Rustcoin *

This one was a collaborative conception (I’ll share the details on that once I have permission to name names). The idea is simple: a cryptocurrency which automatically redistributes coins from the wealthiest accounts to the poorest.

Why would anyone want this? Here’s a few reasons:

1. Unlike any other currency I’m aware of, Rustcoin obeys the laws of nature in that value is depleted over time. It’s hard to horde billions of avocados for very long before nature takes its course and reduces their value

2. Since the system discourages hording, transactions are encouraged, resulting in an active exchange

3. Everyone can participate as there is little advantage to “early adopters” over newcomers

4. As accumulation is discouraged by the system, prices should stay low, providing inflation resistance

5. For these reasons and more, Rustcoin should be uninteresting to speculative buyers and other financial types who just like to gamble and have no interest in the basic utility of an electronic currency

Implementation-wise there’s not a lot of new technology involved, other than the redistribution algorithm and a proof-of-work mechanism that is focused on doing useful work processing transactions as opposed to simply wasting electricity.

* I wanted to call this Marxcoin, but it turns out Marx wasn’t as big a fan of automatic redistribution of wealth as I originally thought.


A privacy-respecting Internet of Things

I have several projects in the works that could be called “IoT” devices, and they share a common goal: provide as much utility as possible while minimizing or eliminating any risk to the user’s privacy. A lot of this revolves around keeping data local as long as possible and not depending on cloud or other third-party services that are outside of the user’s control. As it turns out, this isn’t as hard as it might seem if you rethink the entire system from the perspective of protecting the user’s privacy.

So in addition to producing a selection of IoT devices that behave this way, the output of these projects will include an open toolkit for building additional devices as well. Since all of these devices will be built with this toolkit, it will be tested under a diverse set of real-world conditions.

More to come

These projects are just a sample of the types of things I’m going to try and focus on. Each project may itself spawn sub-projects and of course I have notebooks packed with more ideas like these that fit squarely into the new things category.

Perhaps even this list seems overly-ambitious, but winter is coming, and the only material needed to pursue these efforts is time.