Augmented Reality Will Make Us Smarter

Moore’s Law is bound to pop up any time you read an article about the future of technology. Moore’s Law is common knowledge in tech; it deals with the exponential growth of the number of transistors on a circuit and the speed that information is processed.

I’d argue that there’s a new law that is just as important bubbling up to the forefront today: The Law of Information Accessibility. Augmented reality (AR) will bring this law to your doorstep, very, very soon, and it will be a game changer in the speed at which we get information.

We all have experienced the Law of Information Accessibility in the last 30 years, but probably didn’t realize it. For me, it started in preschool, at the library, with the Dewey Decimal System. By elementary school, we had desktop computers with encyclopedias loaded on them. In middle school, laptops came into being; their mobility meant that our ability to obtain information got quicker, again.

When I was in high school, the Internet and the search engine popped up — that’s when things got really interesting. The information in our computers was no longer static and isolated. Accurate information could now be accessed faster than ever before, and it changed the world. During my college years, cell phones became the norm. Today we have all these smartphones, which have made the search engine even more accessible.

The pattern here is obvious: We are never satisfied with how quickly technology can deliver us relevant information, making the next logical step obvious. Smartphones, very soon, will be augmented reality head mounted displays (HMDs). As Larry Page has been quoted as saying, “the amazing thing about them is that they reduce the time between intention and action.” This sums up the Law of Information Accessibility.

We are about to democratize knowledge.

Technology wants us to not only process information more quickly, but to also input and access relevant information, from our technology, faster. Just like each previous iteration, we won’t know how we ever lived without HMDs. They will be more addictive, more essential and fundamentally a part of who we are, because they will allow us to access information even faster than we do today.

The shape and form of our devices continue to morph, but what they are doing does not. Each iteration simply allows a little quicker retrieval of the information we want. While AR is not the final conclusion of this pattern, it’s a massive bridge to our future.

If we take an even longer look back at this law, it can be seen to have started much further in the past — half a billion years ago. In his book In the Blink of an Eye, zoologist Andrew Parker argues the greatest inflection point in the history of evolution occurred during the Cambrian explosion because of one particular new attribute: the eye.

The eye was the game changer, because the brain could now access external information in real time. Our computers have had brains for decades. With the rise of computer vision, our smart devices are poised to have their own Cambrian explosion.

The Internet, AR and computer vision are part of the same pattern, in that each are massive breakthroughs of increasingly efficient means of the speed at which organisms can summon meaningful data about the external world.

Humans crave omnipotence. When accurate information can be accessed faster, productivity increases. Which is why we have been striving toward the Holy Grail, to have our device provide us with PCDIRT (perfect contextual data in real time). AR can give us this, but only when used with an HMD.

What is coming next is special and unlike previous evolutions of this pattern, because a sort of trinity occurs when you bring a good-looking HMD, computer vision and AR together to create a sum bigger than its parts, giving us prosthetic knowledge.

We are about to democratize knowledge. We are about to make the word “expert” disappear. For the first time in history, information will be accessed so fast, via discreet AR HMDs, that from an outsider’s perspective your actual knowledge base will become indistinguishable from the prosthetic knowledge you are demonstrating or communicating. Think about how revolutionary that is.