Marko Suvajdzic: “Emerging Technologies and Humanity” | Talks at Google


[MUSIC PLAYING] MARKO SUVAJDZIC: Hi, everyone. My name is Marko Suvajdzic. And today, I will talk
about emerging technologies and humanity. And when I say emerging
technologies and humanity, I really am referring
to a large umbrella term that kind of encompasses
these two basic categories. And these two basic
categories are almost like a simplified version
of Maslow’s pyramid of needs that you’re familiar
with, that on one side, we have a care for our
body, for our health. And that tends to be
our primary involvement. Because if we’re not healthy,
if we’re not doing good, if we feel scared
for our safety, it is hard to do anything else. That becomes very
much primary thing. However, once we
achieve that, once we do have a body that is OK and
we’re feeling relatively safe, the other category
kind of kicks in, which is the desire
for being inspired. Desire for having a
meaningful experience. So today, I’ll be talking about
how emerging technologies have affected, or are
affecting as we talk about it, these two categories. And one thing I wanted
to kind of reiterate when I talk about
emerging technologies, I really mean that. Emerging as of like, present
continuous, as of what is happening today. Meaning that as I speak,
so sometimes in the future, these emerging technologies
will be established, mature technologies. And we probably will
already have some ideas of what do we want
to use them for, how do we want to
implement them. But right now, we’re kind of
looking at new technologies and trying to figure
out exactly what is it that we can do with them. And in doing so, I am choosing,
in a way, two emerging technologies and their
influences with these two categories. So on one side, it’s virtual
reality and its influence on health care,
and combining that with another emerging
technology of blockchain and its influence on inspiration
or as represented by art. Interestingly enough, as
I was thinking about this, we can actually literally
criss-cross those technologies. And we could just as
easily talk about the role of blockchain in health care
and the role of virtual reality in art. So again, these are
somewhat choices that used to give us an example
to explore both these two areas of health and
inspiration and, within that, these two technologies. Obviously, VR being
a little bit more established with
much longer history. But only in the last
three plus years VR has come to the fore with
more user-friendly devices. And we’re now starting to use
it on a more massive scale. And with the blockchain
in a similar way, obviously, technology that
is about 10 years old now, since 2009 and the
first white paper that was penned by Satoshi Nakamoto,
the founder of Bitcoin. But only in the last
three years or so has blockchain
technology been kind of started to be used for– you
know, applied to other uses. So those are the two things that
we will explore together today. So the first topic is
the virtual reality and applications for health. And I’ll talk both
about general use, but also use a prism
of my own research and my own work to present
what is being done today. Now, my research in the
world of virtual reality is focused on this
interaction between what I call virtual
reality and variable, or verified, or
validated reality– validated reality
being the reality that we’re sharing
right now together. And I’m not going to go into
the side conversation that is always possible of, is
this validated reality really reality? Or are we living in a world of
Maya, as Sanskrit would put it? Or as Elon Musk says,
chance of 1 in 50 million that we are actually not
living in a simulated reality. So for the purposes
of this research, I’m referring to validated
reality as reality that we experience
every day, and then that relationship
with virtual reality. And one of the key words here
is the key word of “presence”. And presence
describes this sense that when we put a
virtual reality set, feeling into that space,
feeling into the space that, oh, I really believe
that I’m virtual reality, or that my validated
reality becomes what was given to me by the VR headset. And in that transition is where
most of my research is focused. To date, virtual reality
has been used in hospitals. It has been used
very successfully to primarily affect
perception of pain, to lower the perception of pain. It has been used for treating
burn victims, especially when it’s necessary
to sidetrack the mind and not be focused when
a painful therapy might be applied. And in such a case, we
did our own research at the Shands Hospital
UF Health in Florida. It’s one of the biggest
hospitals in Florida. And we started realizing
that we are affecting three different characteristics– perception of pain,
quality of sleep, and cognitive deterioration
with our VR app. And just so happens
that those three things are the three things that really
affect the onset of delirium. We were working primarily
with the patients in ICU unit, intensive care unit. So delirium is
something that is really a big problem where
almost 50% of ICU patients develop some type of delirium. So we’re working to introduce
virtual reality therapy for ICU patients that prevents,
among other things, the onset of delirium. So with the project DREAMS– which is acronym, it stands
for Digital Rehabilitation Environment Augmenting System– we’re looking to introduce
mindfulness and meditation, ultimately, as a therapy for
accepting the reality as is and applying the therapy to
the ICU patients in a state when they are not as agitated. So in other words,
let’s say we would like to introduce meditation
or relaxation techniques to the hospital patients. Well, many patients are older. Almost most of them
are in severe pain. They are in ICU units that
usually have lights on 24/7. There’s a lot of machines,
people going in and out. And it’s really hard to remove
oneself from where you are. Every few minutes, there’s
kind of an interruption of one’s presence in that room. So by introducing virtual
reality, what we do, we take these patients
away from where they are. This is a main menu
of our prototype app. And you can see, it’s
a combination of you can choose your location,
choose your background music. And then the experience,
which is the voiceover guided meditation that we work with
mindfulness meditators, that would then guide the patient
into a relaxing state of mind. So they can choose a variety
of different locations, like beach, or forest
or, a variety of places. So far, beach seems to
be the most popular. And from here, what we do– I would take somebody’s mind,
will apply initial relaxation. Usually, we actually
do a quick app that introduces them
to the VR in general, just so they understand
where they are. And then, it will be about
15-minute guided meditation. And within the
guided meditation, what we’re looking to do is to
create that sense of presence and to create that sense of
taking somebody’s mind away from the reality
that, at that moment, is not very supportive–
it’s a ICU room, right– and take it somewhere
else, like a beach, or any place that that
person would feel comfortable and allow it to relax. So they have noise canceling
headphones, a VR set. And all of a sudden,
they’re being moved away from a hospital
and put somewhere else. Within that reality, what
happens is that, at first– and this is kind of how the
voiceover goes– at first, we will say things like,
hey, take a look around you. If in a beach, look
at the sand beach. Hear the seagulls. So the voice actually
affirms and confirms what the user is seeing. It helps, again, that
sense of presence. They’re like, oh, there’s
somebody else seeing what I’m seeing. Even though it’s
just a voiceover, it really works in allowing
it to like, oh, OK, I’m really here. And then after a
minute or so, asking them to, like, OK, and now focus
your attention to your breath. That’s one of the exercises. There’s a breathing exercise. So within that
exercise then, there are parts when we will
ask user to, let’s say, close their eyes. And it’s interesting
because these are kind of things that
could be almost considered little, small nuances, but it’s
what makes the therapy work. We’re conditioned
to think about that, I’m now seeing the
world around me. And I close my eyes, and
now I’m inside my own mind and my own head. And I’m expecting that
when I open my eyes, I will be back into reality. So when somebody puts
a virtual reality headset on and starts
meditating at the beach, and then they’re asked
to close their eyes– and for part of the experience,
they have their eyes closed, even though they
still have a VR headset, and even if they
cheat, they open, and they’re, oh, on the beach. OK. And they close their eyes. And then when they’re
asked to open their eyes, they’re back to the beach. And that really kind of
confirms that they are really at the beach. The mind really
feels like, oh yeah. I open up my eyes, and
this is where I am. Ah. OK. And then they continue with
their meditation experience, right? And it is that moment of taking
the consciousness, in a way, taking the mind to
another location, applying the therapy
while mind is calm, instead of being
agitated in a hospital, but mind is calm and
receptive of such therapy. And once the therapy is done,
allowing mind to come back, taking off the VR set, coming
back into this world, hopefully stronger and calmer. Followed by that, we
would have an exit– this will be two times a day
for a certain amount of days that we will track our progress. And we would talk to patients
about their ability to continue doing this, even without VR. So they can do this
without a VR set. And actually, we have
a lot of patients who express an
interest to get a VR set so they can have
that aid even when they leave the hospital. Now, as I talk about it,
here are three questions or three arguments
of, why would we use these kinds of
tools in health care? So the three arguments are
apps as an observational tool, scaling, and then the immersion
and sense of presence in VR. And this is really a much wider
argument, not just for VR, but using video games,
interactive systems in health care. Because number one, app can
become an observational tool for us. Meaning that, it
is not easy to have somebody always present who
tracks how a patient is doing, right? It’s actually quite
expensive for nurse to go and do
something every day, or every hour, or
every few hours. That’s quite expensive. However, as soon
as the app is on, it’s actually tracking how
somebody’s interacting. And particular types
of interactions can be yellow flags. And literally, they
become an assessment tool that is almost
hidden in a format of a game or a virtual
reality experience. Number two is scaling. I mentioned already how
difficult it is to have or how expensive it is to
have nurses check very often. It takes about 30 minutes for
a nurse to check for delirium. And it probably happens once
per day or every other day in most of the hospitals. So by having software-powered
assessment tools, we’re able basically
to grow at scale and to assess these things
twice a day, three times a day, or even more often. And argument number
three, the biggest one for the virtual reality,
is a sense of immersion and the sense of presence
that I spoke about, that sense that what we are
seeing in the virtual world is real, that what we’re
seeing, what we’re experiencing is real. And that is the basics of
the research that I’m doing. Just the other day here
in LA, I did VOID VR. And we did a horror experience. It’s a virtual
reality kind of thing. And you know, it
really is scary. I don’t really like horror,
but it really is scary. You have zombies coming at you. You have to run over a wooden
plank and not fall down. And then you get to the pathway
and you’re like, [GASP].. And I mean, you know, there’s
nothing to the side, of course. But in the virtual reality,
mind really plays that trick and makes it feel like as
if there’s really something there, right? And that is what’s
really important in order to apply the therapy. If that sense of presence is
not there, it will not work. So it’s really
very, very important that we have that
sense of presence. Again, it would take
our consciousness, move it into the
virtual reality, apply therapy,
calm the mind down, make it receptive towards the
therapy, apply the therapy, and then allow the person
to come back, right? As I mentioned before,
among many other uses of virtual reality
in health care, one thing that we at the
Digital Worlds institute and the University of
Florida, have identified in collaboration
with our colleagues from College of Medicine is that
delirium is one of the things that we have not really
experimented with. And we’ve been working on it
now for a year and a half, conducting real
hospital studies. We did two large studies
with hospital patients. When I say large, it’s
about 60 patients or so. For research purposes,
that’s relatively large. It takes a lot of
administration and bureaucracy to get OK to work with
live hospital patients that are in intensive care
unit, meaning that they are potentially not going to
make it out of there alive, and to have an
intervention that can impact how their
healing goes, you know, will they survive or not? So that was challenging and one
of the more challenging steps in this process. But the reception was great. We’ve been having
many actually patients having great feedback on that. And now we’re working on the
next iteration of our prototype that we’re looking
to create biofeedback connected to virtual reality. So what we do in
this world actually affects what we see in
the virtual reality world. Now, as for the next steps
of this particular project, where do we want to take it? End of life care is one big
area that we’re thinking about. Basically, the
idea here is, it’s really special or nice if
somebody at the end of the life gets an opportunity
to say their goodbyes or to be surrounded
by the loved ones. But in a hospital situation,
that’s often not the case. Quite often, people
die on their own, alone, without anybody around. And it’s a stressful experience. You might know that you’re going
to die in a matter of days, and there’s nobody around you. And that’s a very cold
and lonely experience. So we’re looking at including
virtual reality as a means to humanize this experience– working with hospices where
we can create personalized experiences for people
towards the end of their life, that they can go back into
their photographs of their life, places they’ve been
to, images that would inspire them and calm
them down and allow them some kind of a connection with
their own life and history that has been there behind them
at this very sensitive time of their life. Another look into
the future here when we talk about VR is
inspired by the work of the philosopher,
Roy Ascot, when she talks about moist media. And moist media as
a concept is media that is created at the
intersection of three VRs. And those three VRs
are VR virtual reality, which is kind of a cyber,
computer-aided reality as being one of them, but any kind
of computer-aided reality. Validated reality, which
we spoke about already, reality that we
perceive as real. And then vegetal reality–
vegetal reality talks about medicinal plants– plants like ayahuasca,
plants like mushrooms, peyote, that create psychedelic
experiences that traditionally have been used for
healing purposes. And it’s been used
in a variety of ways where either shaman
would use it, and the patient actually is not,
let’s say, drinking ayahuasca, as it is a tradition in
Amazon that has changed since. And now patients are the
ones who are drinking it, to many other forms. And as the future
comes in, we start realizing that now we have
this other form of guiding through virtual reality
and having this situation where we have a
real world, and then virtual reality world, and then
this vegetal reality world. And then somewhere on the
intersection of these three worlds, we find
again what we refer to as moist media, media
that will create experiences at that intersection. There is a lot of
work already being done with psilocybin and PTSD,
especially the VA office– Veterans Affair office. And that work is really
coming about now, and starting, and being
for the first time seen with a little bit different
eye, not being judged. And then, another option
that we’re looking at is augmented reality. These are Magic Leap goggles
where we’re changing– in virtual reality,
we move somebody away from the validated
reality, right? So I take a patient away from
the room, I apply the therapy, and then bring them
back into this reality. With augmented reality, it’s a
little bit different, you know? As you know, it functions
with overlaying something, you know augmented
reality, into where we are. So now, we’re trying to do
something different in terms of instead of moving somebody
out, applying therapy, bringing them back, how about, can we
make this reality more magical? Can we make somebody
put the glasses on and be able to paint the
room in which they are in, create all kinds of pictures
and things like that? So the room where they’re
in changes and becomes more human or more approachable. And what’s interesting
is, in our conversations with people who we did
some initial tests here, they proceeded almost as if– they would say
things like, oh yeah, those things are still there. I just need those special
glasses to see them. And for them,
they’re really there. Like they’ll put things on. It’s like, oh yeah, just
putting on my special glasses, and you can see everything. It’s still there. And it’s been
really interesting. And I think as the
technology moves forward for augmented reality– right now you
know, Magic Leap is quite expensive at $3,500
for the developer kit. But as that technology
moves forward and the prices start
going down, we’ll start seeing a lot more uses of
AR in health therapy as well. So those are some of
the ideas of where we are looking to
move the DREAMS project into the
future, which really deals with digital
rehabilitation environment– you know, changing
processes that we can do through technology. Now, I want to move now from
health care to inspiration. So I talked a
little bit about VR. I talked about how we can help
our bodies, how we can heal, how we can stay healthy. I want to jump to the second
topic of blockchain and art. In this particular
case, I’m going to talk about blockchain
art, art about blockchain, and blockchain-facilitated
art markets. You probably have all
heard about bitcoin, about blockchain, read
about it a little bit. And art is probably
one of the areas that maybe very few people
have explored in relationship to blockchain. So it’s a little
bit of a niche topic right now that is becoming
bigger and bigger as we speak. So my work in this area is under
umbrella of Global Blockchain Initiative that I have started
at the University of Florida. And we are working
on applied research. So kind of like, maybe,
computer science departments where we work on the
actual protocols, or the actual different
cryptocurrencies, or things like that, we’re looking
at applied research of what can be done with these
new technologies. And also, how can
we spread the word? We’re educational
institution primarily, right? So the two steps
that I am charged with as a researcher and
a professor, number one, is generation of new knowledge. And number two is spreading
that knowledge to students. So it’s kind of a
really one-two step. You know, I spend
half of my time looking to generate new
knowledge that has not been there before, and
then testing it, putting it to rigorous testing, and then
applying it and sharing it with other researchers
and my students. Now blockchain, as
such, really offers very interesting opportunity,
especially for conceptual art. I remember when network art or
internet art started happening. In the late ’90s, I was
living in San Francisco. And I remember
around 2000, SF MoMA put up the very first show
that dealt with network art. It was called I
believe 010101.org. And leaving that show, actually
the thing that I remembered was that whole sections
were sectioned off with this yellow tape saying,
oh, the system is down, no internet here,
stuff like that. It was very touchy artwork
where half of stuff would not really work. And that’s part of being
emerging technology, right? Anything that is a Gen One
doesn’t really work always out-of-the-box, as we
would think about it. But also artists
take that and take it places where maybe initial
researchers and creators did not even think about
using it, right? So in this particular
set of examples, I’ll talk about art,
about blockchain, meaning art that has blockchain
as topic, as a focus. So it’s a traditional
art, but it kind of comments on blockchain in a way. Number two is blockchain as
means of payment and purchase tracking, crowdfinancing art,
meaning using blockchain again as a tool to either
buy, sell, or register ownership, or register that
work of art is really original. And number three
is blockchain art. And blockchain art is art that
uses blockchain as a medium. So it’s the type
of art that did not exist 10 years ago, because it
uses blockchain as sculpture uses clay or stone. So this is the division
that I have seen. When I think of how
blockchain and art interact with each other, these
are the three categories that, to date, we can
categorize things in– commentary on it, using it as
the business kind of sense, and then using it as the
medium for art itself. This is an example
of an artist that made a relatively big name. His name is Crypto Graffiti. And he does both art about
blockchain and blockchain art. But most of his pieces literally
are art about blockchain. So these are just different
examples of his pieces that– let’s say, on the top row, we
have a person who, for a while, was claiming, or we thought
could be the Satoshi Nakamoto, the author of bitcoin. So he used that. And to create this collage,
he used cut up credit cards. So the credit cards obviously
had to be of particular color. And he would collect
them and cut them up and made this collage that is
also a commentary both on what is coming and what it was– the commentary of, hey, these
credit cards are useless. And tomorrow, we will
not need this anymore. This is like an
old banking system that is going to be gone soon. And we’re going to have
something completely different. And then presenting
Satoshi, or the person who at one point
kind of became almost like a meme of who
Satoshi can be. And again, without
going into the details of the true identity of Satoshi
Nakamoto that we do not know, there are guesses out there. There are guesses that maybe
it’s a group of people, that he never
existed, that he died. It just kind of depends
on where do we stand on that level of arguments. But here’s an example
of art about blockchain, a commentary on blockchain
by an older medium. This is the world’s first
monument to bitcoin. It’s in Slovenia in Kranj. And it’s about seven
meters wide, a few tons. And this is kind of an aerial
view of this crossroad that has a bitcoin logo put in it. So again, this was done
a couple of years ago. And it’s again artwork that
glorifies, or enshrines, or archives the upcoming
development of bitcoin, be it one way or another. But again, it’s art
that uses blockchain as a commentary in many ways. Next is a blockchain
art or an art market where there are at least
three ways in which I can see blockchain
disrupting the art market. Number one is driving
digital art sales up through digital scarcity. Because right now– and this was
a big problem with digital art in general where– I’m trained as a
photographer, let’s say. And in the late ’90s, it
was the last generation who used film where
you have some level of original photograph. But even then, that was
a big problem, right? We have painters who
would do a painting. And the painting, by its
very nature, is original. And then we have a photograph
that I have a negative that is kind of original. And then I can make
endless copies as prints. And then I have to
number those prints to make them limited portfolio
or something like that. But it’s really self-imposed. And I can make more prints. And it really kind of
creates a challenge that different, let’s
say, photographers dealt in different ways
throughout their career. One of the famous photographers
here from California, Brett Weston, who was also a
master printer, what he did– and this is mid-20th century– when he died, he willed
that all his negatives need to be burned and destroyed. You know, those
negatives were beautiful. And he was an
amazing photographer, but he could not stand the
idea of somebody else’s hands touching his negatives
and making prints in a way that he did not intend them. He was a master printer. He printed his work. And it doesn’t have to be
numbered anymore, right? What he made, he made. And that’s it. And even if there’s
30 copies, OK. Those are the 30 copies
and there’s never going to be another one
because those negatives do not exist anymore. However, if I make something
now in digital photography, I mean, we can just
copy-paste it endlessly. If I create something in
virtual reality, a 3D model, it’s really hard to prove
that that is the original. And this is where
blockchain comes in now, that we can actually
tie digital files and register in a blockchain,
and check for its authenticity. So for the first time
ever, we can actually have digital files that we can
prove that they’re originals. It doesn’t mean that you
cannot screenshot it. You can. But you cannot sell it,
because you do not have a proof of ownership, right? And that’s a really
huge deal that is going to have
a revolutionizing effect on digital art. And we’ll look at
this 20, 30 years of having all analog art that
is, by nature, again, original, and then having digital art
for 20, 30 years that kind of struggled, but with the
sense of what is original, what is not, and
having this kind of a hyper production where– you know, up to the end
of the 20th century, if you were a photographer,
you were kind of a magician. You do this thing, and
you go to a darkroom, and you make these
special things. And today, just about everybody
who owns a phone has a camera. And we all become photographers. And it really changed
things, sometimes for good, sometimes not so much, maybe. Number two is democratizing
fine art investments, or making actually
art investment available for everybody. So let’s say I want
to own a Picasso. Well, I might not have
$3 million to buy one. But maybe I can get
together enough people that we can buy it together. And we can have self-executing
contracts on blockchain that prove our ownership. And I can sell my
stake in this Picasso, just as much as I can
sell my stock in a company or something like that. So it allows people who
otherwise would never be able to enter the world of
fine art investment, because of the amount necessary,
to enter that and to say, you know what? I think that this painting,
the value will go up, and I’m going to invest in it. And I can invest $1.00,
$100.0, $10,000, whatever. But I own it. It’s provable. It is written on a
blockchain, and I can do whatever I want with my share. So it becomes
almost like a stock of ownership of a digital
art or real art, right? And again, number
three is combination with number one, which
is improving provenance and reducing art forgery– you know, proving the ownership
of a particular piece of art. This is a graph that
was published last year. And it shows the
plans into the future. And it is divided by
galleries, auction houses, and intermediaries
of, are they looking into using virtual currency? And it kind of shows that
we’re still far from the wider acceptance where 80% of
people in all three categories says they have no intention
of including cryptocurrency in the next year or two, right? Some will say in the future,
but not in the near future. And this makes sense. It makes sense primarily
because, right now, cryptocurrency has
a lot of problems that are of the nature of
how to make it fully legal. Do we understand, what does
it mean to use cryptocurrency? How it would affect
me if I use it? How do I get taxed? Things like that. You know, taxation is a really,
really big deal right now, and it’s kind of unfolding
in front of our eyes. So until some of those questions
are kind of settled down, very few larger
auction houses would be willing to accept
cryptocurrency. Because now you get payment,
let’s say in bitcoin. And the bitcoin goes up. And then they want
to get dollars. Well they have to pay
taxes on a capital gain from the difference in
value between when they got it versus when they cashed out. And that becomes just
too scary for a lot of traditional,
conservative art houses. However, one thing
that changed a lot is that, at one point
in time, we started coupling the idea of
cryptocurrency and blockchain technology as technology
that supports it. Obviously, there’s no
real coupling, you know? There’s no bitcoin
without blockchain, it’s the technology
that powers it. But it was a really a
great actually PR moment where bitcoin and other
cryptocurrencies had a really bad name that were
used often for potentially illegal activities. And people who did not
know much about it really was scared about it. So by moving the spotlight
into the blockchain technology, it created this situation
where many people nowadays, when I talk
to them, they will say, ah, I’m not really crazy. I don’t deal with
the cryptocurrencies, but I love blockchain
technology. And it’s like, OK. You know, it allows this
in for people to go in and say yes, there
is a technology that can be used for other things. And this can be also seen
in this next graph that shows that blockchain
technology, as such, is far more interesting
to all the three categories, galleries, auction
houses, and intermediaries, where, as you can see,
over 2/3 of auction houses are actively planning
to use blockchain technology in the future. They’re looking to
engage because they see the value of it. They see the idea of,
oh, wait a second, we can probably get
prices much higher if we can open up bidding to
the larger pool of people. So it’s not just somebody who
can afford $3 million Picasso, but maybe this group
can get together, or a few thousand
people can get together, and we can raise money
to buy that Picasso as our common investment, right? The last, but not the least,
is the blockchain art. And this is kind of the
most fun part, in a way. It’s the art that uses
blockchain technology as its medium. Here, I have an example
of “Plantoid”, an art piece that was done in 2016
by an artist, Primavera De Philippi. And here, we have this kind
of a robotic looking flower that it has its own
dedicated bitcoin wallet. And you can tip it. You can basically give money. And when you do, it does
this kind of a light show, and it moves around. So it kind of mimics nature
where, even in nature, flowers are beautiful to
attract pollinators, right? So they kind of put up a show
for pollinators to come in so they can spread their seed. In a similar way here, it will
do the similar beautiful dance. And the pollinator,
in a way, becomes a human who comes by and puts
some bitcoin in that wallet. After the wallet
accumulates enough money, it is given to another person
to create another plantoid. So the idea here is that
it’s the artificial life that is capable of reproducing itself
by the means of accumulated wealth due to its
own performance. So if I get to make
the next plantoid, I have to make it
fun enough that it’s capable of raising enough money
that it can reproduce itself. So if I don’t make a nice
one that people really want to give money
to, it will not reach the point of
reproduction, so to say. So an interesting way of
using blockchain, again, to mimic how biology operates. Discover Da Vinci,
this is a project that we are working on right
now at Digital World Institute. We’re making a collecting card
game that, at the same time, this talks about the life
of Leonardo da Vinci. We are celebrating 500 years
of his death this year. And with this
particular game, we are using a gamefied experience. In this particular case,
we’re using STEAM blockchain, mostly because STEAM
is very well suited for this type of social
interactions, voting and things like that. But it’s a card game
where somebody collects cards of Leonardo’s inventions. And every time you
collect these cards, there are pop-up
questions that you have to answer in
order to unlock it. So it’s a card collecting game
where you can trade cards. But in order to
unlock them, you have to answer these questions,
which ultimately are the educational part. So it was built as a means of
promoting Leonardo da Vinci’s work, primarily among the
students on the University of Florida campus. It’s something that’s
being literally built as we speak right now. We’re looking at a
launch date in this fall. It will be open for everybody. But primarily, we are pushing
it towards our students. And it will be on
mobile devices, connecting blockchain
technology with AR, because you’ll be able
to, once you collect and put together innovation. You can click on
it, and there’ll be an AR of that piece in the
space on your mobile device that you can explore,
turn around, play with it. So it combines
certain technologies into one experience that is
primarily, again, educational, but in the form of a video game. Probably many people have
heard of CryptoKitties. This is one of the
first big names that came about in
blockchain space. CryptoKitties is a
card collecting game. We can compare it to, let’s
say, baseball cards or something like that. However, what was
really unique here is that, with most digital
art, if I made, let’s say, a CryptoKitty or kitten
like this, and I own one– well how do I really own one? I mean, somebody else
can have the same image. And now we both own one. And what does that really mean? Well, in this particular
case, owning a CryptoKitty literally means
having the access code to a particular number that
identifies the CryptoKitty. And CryptoKitty becomes
just literally illustration of that number that I have
unique access codes to. So that literally
gives me ownership over a blockchain
address that is represented by the CryptoKitty. This particular project actually
was the first project that crashed Ethereum blockchain. It runs on Ethereum. And it literally crashed the
Ethereum network for a while because how popular it became
at the time of its launch. And this is 2017. And when I look at
this and think about it just 20 years
earlier, I was working on other type of virtual pets. These were virtual pets,
virtual cats and dogs, that were developed
by the company called PF Magic in the ’90s. And I worked for the PF Magic
at the time as a webmaster, moving virtual pets online. And this is online when internet
was emerging technology. And we literally would
have meetings like, so, we have this internet thing. And what are we
going to do with it? Like, we have a video game,
what do we do with this? So we would have
brainstorming sessions talking about things we can do. And surprisingly enough,
it was our users who were the most creative ones. And we learned
really soon after, because these pets had
artificial intelligence engine in them,
that people started opening online businesses. And this is ’97, ’98. All my business as being,
oh, I’ll train your pet. You upload your file. I train it. You download it, pay me $2. Or in Cats 2 and
in Dogs 2, you were able to mate two
dogs or two cats. And if the mom and dad
were highly-trained AIs, the baby will be
easier to train. So people started opening
online stud services. So it was really
kind of fascinating where people took this, but
very, very much unexpected. And then this kind
of brings back this idea of
emerging technologies that, what is emerging
today, in 20 years we’ll look at it differently. This was very much
emerging in 1997– having virtual pets,
having an idea of AI, interacting with it. Well now, we’re talking
about CryptoKitties. So with this slide, I would
like to finish my part and ask for any
questions or comments. We have about 5 to 10 minutes
to discuss any questions that you may have. SPEAKER 2: Anyone
have any questions? AUDIENCE: So when the
patients are exiting the virtual reality,
what kind of effort do you put to slowly ramp
them back up to taking off the virtual reality? MARKO SUVAJDZIC: So there
are two steps, actually, that are very sensitive
in that regard. And you identified
the first one, which is actually literally
taking it off and kind of having that jarring moment. So one of the things
that we do work on is– and again, there’s a
lead-in to the experience, and then lead-out. So it actually informs
the user that they are about to take off the virtual– so it kind of tells them what’s
to come, and that really helps. And it was something that
we kind of discovered as we worked on this. You know, we went in, and
we didn’t have it initially. And it was like, oh. And it was almost
kind of like a crash. It was like, I’m back here. Can I be permanently there? And that’s part of the
research effort is that, oh, how to help out, how to make
that transition go well. The second part that
was really difficult also was that, as
researchers, we had to conduct a questionnaire
and all these tests. So now, we will have a patient
who takes off their thing, and they’re almost in
a semi-sleepy state. It’s exactly where I
want them to be, right? And I want them to
be there for a while. And instead, it’s
like, all right. And now we have a
questionnaire for you. So one through five stars, how
would you rate your experience? One through five stars– and it’s like, what? And it was really jarring to the
point where the questionnaire often would last
20 minutes, which is longer than the actual
experience in the VR. So we had to cut down
the questionnaire to be much shorter. But in the same time, we
cannot totally eliminate it, because the whole purpose
of it is to collect data. So it’s a kind of thing
that we, as researchers, have to balance and
understand that I’m actually affecting the very outcomes
that I’m looking to do. Because in the
afternoon, I’ll come back and ask again those
questions before and after the experience. So it’s a bit of a
touchy job there. And that’s also what
led us to this idea of experimenting with
augmented reality, which doesn’t have that. It’s like, oh I’m
still here, it’s just that if I put the
special magic glasses, it’s a really fun
room that is colorful, rather than white neon room. It’s like, oh, how to
make this a nicer place, rather than how to escape
from here to somewhere else. So it’s two
different approaches. And I believe that
there are opportunities in health care for both. Was another question there? AUDIENCE: Hi. For the Dreams
therapy, has your team explored stimulating
the other senses, like maybe aromas, or having
a fan that simulates a breeze? MARKO SUVAJDZIC: Yeah. So, we have evaluated
different options. And again, it’s a interesting
situation where– you know, when I started working on
this about two years ago, I had all kinds of ideas
what I wanted to do. And my collaborator, who is
a doctor who works in ICU, she kind of listened to me. And she listened
to me, and she’s like, OK., I want you to
go and be 10 days in ICU. And then we can have
this conversation again. I was like, no, but– it
was like, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Go to ICU. So I spent 10 days
in ICU shadowing, doing some off-the-shelf
projects with people. And there were a
lot of challenges that I didn’t even
know existed before– such as, oh, you cannot
have Velcro in the ICU unit, because it collects bacteria. So there were so
many limitations that for me to, let’s
say, introduce smell, I would have a whole– I mean, it’s interesting,
but it completely changes the nature
of what is it. I’m actually giving
something to the patient that could be dead tomorrow. So it creates a lot
of very specific cases that we have to say,
all right, right now we’re going to work on this. Once that is proven
useful, we can expand it by adding, one at a time,
one at a time, one at a time. Otherwise, it’s hard to
measure what is affecting it. And early on with this kind
of work, that’s challenging. So what I really am excited
about now is not necessarily adding more senses, as much as
adding interactivity, adding that maybe one’s voice
or breathing can actually affect what’s happening
in the app, right? Because most of the meditation
apps out on the market right now, you just kind of
watch it, and you follow it. And if you don’t follow it,
it just kind of goes on. And you can follow it, or not. But to have a gamefied
meditation where I’m measuring the heartbeat,
I’m measuring the breath– and if you’re doing good, the
game is opening up for you. And if you’re not, it’s not. You know, looking to kind of
facilitate the interaction through interactivity. AUDIENCE: All right, so
I saw in the art slides that there is an intermediary. And they were considering
using blockchain in the future. And I was wondering
why they would want to use it when blockchain
takes out any intermediaries. And the person
providing a service can directly give that service
to anyone in the blockchain. MARKO SUVAJDZIC: Yeah. [CHUCKLES] I think
it’s a paradox that currently a lot of people
are trying to figure out. You know, when we talked
about cryptocurrencies, we said, oh, banks are
going to be made obsolete. Yet, what happened
is banks created their own cryptocurrencies now. And they’re going into that. So I think it’s
happening in two ways. One part is certain types
of business practices will be made obsolete. And we will not need a
middle person anymore. And it will also
create different types of middle people, middle
persons, who will do things that do not exist right now. And I think a certain
amount of businesses are looking to reinvent
themselves and say, oh, well, nobody’s going to be needing
these services anymore. But what if we are
maybe aggregator of anybody interested in
investing in an art piece through our coin? And they become,
again, a middle person that is not necessary,
but really helps. If I want to own Picasso,
how do I really go about it? I understand that there is– but oh, there is a
website, and they have an offer which ones I can do. And they become kind of a
intermediary that is not necessary, but it’s nice. It’s almost like
a mountain guide. I can make it to
the top on my own, but it’s kind of nice
to have somebody. So I think that a lot of
art-related businesses are looking to figure
out how to stay relevant. And I think sometimes it
feels like, wait a second. I’m working on making
myself obsolete. And as a professor,
right now, online courses are all the rage. And all of my classes
right now, I’m recording for online audience. So I would give a presentation
at a live audience, and then go in the studio and
talk again the same thing? And as I do it, it
feels kind of like, huh. And when I’m finished with this,
they don’t need me anymore. I literally just
made myself obsolete. It’s just kind of a comparison. I feel like, oh, these
middle men are doing things that they feel like, I hope that
there is a future beyond this, because I’m literally right
now making myself obsolete. But if I don’t do it, I’m
going to be obsolete for sure. So I’m kind of
hoping that I’m going to learn things
that, going forward, will make me actually
far more relevant than I was before
in this new economy. AUDIENCE: Thank you. MARKO SUVAJDZIC: Yeah. SPEAKER 2: All right. Let’s give a round
of thanks to Marko. That was a great talk. [APPLAUSE]

5 thoughts on “Marko Suvajdzic: “Emerging Technologies and Humanity” | Talks at Google”

  1. Concerning medicine, my bet is on entheogens above any kind of VR (which is exciting for sure). IMO, VR is a wrong kind of distraction and escape for sick people. Entheogens change the brain itself and "push" from inside. Applying them properly en masse is surely more complicated/costly than even VR. Though far from impossible, in a humane/compassionate society whose highest aspiration is not profit. It was once and could be again, this time coupled with modern medicine and technology.

  2. Fantastic — the insights and commentary on art and the sites of interaction currently emerging there, about blockchain+art, provide context and a view into the state of the practice(s). The presenter is clearly knowledgeable and engaging. Great lecture!

  3. Having collaborated with both clinicians and administrators in healthcare to discuss the emerging challenges related to pain management, recovery times and readmission rates in critical care, I am so excited and hopeful for the amazing ways that Marko's work with DreamsVR in revolutionizing the patient experience! What an incredibly empathetic application of these technologies, I cannot wait to see how virtual reality will continue to impact patient care. <3 Thank you for the work that you do!

  4. Fantastic! A thought provoking journey exploring the application of today's technologies as well as a glimpse into the future of the fascinating intersection of the human condition, the economies that drive us, and where that may lead us. A reflection on the trends that are taking us there. Terrific exploration of blockchain and how it touches the creative aspects of our lives through the arts. I found this to be a captivating look at the psychological conditions experienced by patients undergoing traumatic medical procedures. As well as what we can do to try to use modern VR tech to apply consciousness-transposition to help patients experiencing traumatic events. Personally, as a needle-phobic patient who has passed out from having my blood drawn I have often wondered if VR could help alleviate the acute anxiety that I feel at even the sight of a needle. Overall, a great talk! I really enjoyed it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *