augmenting past realities – and a connection with artificial intelligence

How should we reconstruct the past?

Is the ideal Virtual Reality and photorealistic simulation? A CGI (pre)history? Under the supposition that this would be like it was back then?

My line is that this would be the death of the past. It forgets the material ruin, the archaeological condition that is our cultural and historical experience, that is the historical condition.

The opportunity offered by information technology is, for me, one of augmenting our archaeological relationship with the ruin of the past – helping us make more of what is left. Augmented Reality, rather than Virtual Reality.

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Chris (Witmore) came across this piece on

amplified intelligence: machines as brain boosters


When Ken Ford ponders AI, he thinks of boosting human brainpower through Amplified Intelligence, using machines to augment human cognition. It’s a less lofty goal than creating Artificial Intelligence, but also one that’s more realistic.

“The focus and theme of our research is what has become known as human-centered computing which, in a nutshell, is about fitting technology to people instead of fitting people to technology. The human is part of the system, and it is the performance of the whole system, including the human, that we are interested in. This requires that machines should be designed to fit us physically, cognitively, and perhaps even socially.

We think of AI as meaning “Amplified Intelligence.” The interesting thing is that many traditional AI technologies in fact are being used in just this way. We like to refer to it as building cognitive prostheses, computational systems that leverage and extend human intellectual capacities, just as eyeglasses are a kind of ocular prosthesis. Building cognitive prostheses is fundamentally different from AI’s traditional Turing Test ambitions — it doesn’t set out to imitate human abilities, but to extend them. And yet (unlike, say, the ambition of developing artificial insects) it keeps human thought at the center of our science.”


NASA is developing the Wearable Augmented Reality Prototype (WARP), a personal communication device. The voice- activated device would allow easy, real-time access to voice communication, pictures, video, people and technical reports. Credit: NASA/JPL

Imagine – we could work on the past with instant access, through such prostheses, not to VR reconstruction, but to information, images, sounds that amplify and augment our perception and relationship with the ruins.

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