Sunday, May 06, 2012

Foundation's Edge


When looking at this outrageous tech whereby ordinary objects like door knobs, sofas and water could become smart, Isaac Ashmov's Foundation's Edge comes to mind whereby starships were controlled by hands, something somewhat akin to but, in actuality, far beyond the realm of Minority Report even though this work was written over 30 years ago.

Foundation's Edge - The Avatar of touch.

Hesitantly Trevize placed a finger on the circle of light and at once the light spread out to cover 
the desk top. On it were the outline of two hands: a right and a left. With a sudden, smooth movement, the desk top tilted to an angle of forty-five degrees. 
 Trevize took the seat before the desk. No words were necessary. It was clear what he was expected 
to do. 
 He placed his hands on the outlines on the desk, which were positioned for him to do so without 
strain. The desk top seemed soft, nearly velvety, where he touched it--and his hands sank in. 
 He stared at his hands with astonishment, for they had not sunk in at all. They were on the surface, 
his eyes told him. Yet to his sense of touch it was as though the desk surface had given way, and as though something were holding his hands softly and warmly. 
 Was that all? 
 Now what? 
 He looked about and then closed his eyes in response to a suggestion. 
 He had heard nothing. He had heard nothing! 
 But inside his brain, as though it were a vagrant thought of his own, there was the sentence, 
“Please close your eyes. Relax. We will make connection.” 
 Through the hands? 
 Somehow Trevize had always assumed that if one were going to communicate by thought with a 
computer, it would be through a hood placed over the head and with electrodes against the eyes and skull. 
 The hands? 
 But why not the hands? Trevize found himself floating away, almost drowsy, but with no loss of 
mental acuity. Why not the hands? 
 The eyes were no more than sense organs. The brain was no more than a central switchboard, 
encased in bone and removed from the working surface of the body. It was the hands that were the working surface, the hands that felt and manipulated the Universe.


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