Tangerine [2]

This is an article in three parts about Tangerine, the media innovation and cognitive computing software company that I founded in 2016. Our work re-envisions media itself and will fuel important advancements in cognitive computing. Software companies: Partner with us!

part 1: my background, motivations for starting the company

part 2: the business opportunities for software company partners

part 3: specifics of what we’re proposing to accomplish.


there is business opportunity in this

What’s the future, models or drawings? or is it something else?

100 years ago, or so, actually in the late 1890’s, and taking over 30 years to fully develop, media was transformed by technical innovations that infused recorded sound into silent film. Two media, sound and film, became one medium: “sound film”. This transformed the nature of both sound and film, and created something new that was greater than the sum of the parts, a new medium far more expressive, communicative, and valuable, not just for use in any single or handful of industries, but ultimately spawning whole new industries that were previously unimagined, the television industry being just one of many examples, and later YouTube. We’ve gotten a lot of mileage, to say the least, out of that one media fusion innovation a century ago. It’s been just fundamental.

Today, there is opportunity to do something of that nature again, to fundamentally transform media as we know it. The innovation comes again from the idea of fusion, of two things that exist, to create a new thing that doesn’t yet exist.

What “drawing” is, is fundamental. And what “modeling” is, is fundamental. And their inter-relationship with each other is really very much analogous to the inter-relationship of sound and film. These are two things, drawing and modeling, that are mutually interdependent. To the human mind, one makes little sense without the other. The fusion of one (drawing) into the other (modeling) is going to transform both, and it’s going to amplify the understanding of both, and amplify the capacity of human beings to develop, share, and communicate understanding about complex things.

Like film, this advancement in media is going to bring value across a wide range of industries spanning from industrial applications (powerplants, refineries), to medical imaging, to land planning and transportation, to design and construction of buildings, to design and manufacturing of any manufactured product, to entertainment and gaming, to scientific visualization, to artists, and on and on, including anyone who’s doing anything to imagine, develop, communicate and act in any kind of spatial visual environment. And though I will go into more detail on this later, I mention now that the category of “modeling” is very broad, and today is already “hybridized” in such a way that “modeling” already includes many kinds of media aligned together in the same digital space: vector models, point cloud scans, photography of many kinds aligned in-situ with the rest of the model (of course including photos that are still photos or moving video, and that are cropped images or spherical panoramas, partial or whole), all of which is aligned and composed together whole and including an array of other kinds of data. In aggregate, the whole is a “model”, a highly complex, spatial and visual environment of information, of various kinds and types.

Understanding that model, in specific and useful ways, for whatever purpose, is the nature of the real business problem. Though it’s not just a business problem. It is a business problem, but it’s more than a business problem. Just as infusing sound into moving picture turned out to address a business problem(s), it also addressed more than that. It’s a human issue. It’s at the root of our need to think and express, understand and communicate.

It’s here that “drawing” has its role. It’s not obsolete. It won’t be replaced. It’s fundamental. Drawing is the reason I’m standing here now: recognition that drawing (narrowing) is fundamental to thinking, and to understanding, which grows in the ping-ponging between wide and narrow. If we discard the narrow, then we don’t have thinking, and we don’t have understanding. Understanding won’t grow, if we take away one hand and leave ourselves with the sound of one hand clapping.

What we’re going to do instead is recognize the dynamics of thinking, recognize its basic components, wide and narrow, and innovate based on that recognition. We’re going to reinvent “drawing” based on respect for its function, and careful study of its past and present. And we’re going to reimagine possibilities for the future of media with that function in mind, with the sound of two hands clapping, ping-ponging. We’re going to envision the new fusion, of a reinvented “drawing” with far great utility and power, infused in-situ within any kind of “model”, within any kind of spatial visual hybridized multi-media information environment.

The business opportunity is myriad. I will discuss a few possibilities here without being fixated on any pre-determined business model, because, again, I’m convinced that such ideas are best found in discussion with others who mutually respect the search for the best answers. With that in mind, Tangerine believes there are two major plays here of interest.

Two business plays:

  1. The future of media: I have envisioned, conceptually on paper, independently at my company, Tangerine, over the last year (2016/17), the future of media itself. As with other innovations in media (like the fusion of sound into film), the result will have unanticipated pay-off both culturally and in business(s). Tangerine will work together with any software company that shares our interest in the future of media and the possibilities of what we’ve conceptualized. Together we can co-develop the future of media. Tangerine is flexible in structuring a working relationship. Contact us to see how easy we are to work with. Email me at robsnyder@tangerinefocus.com and we can get started. We’ll work together with you, or FOR you, in just about any way that you might propose as appropriate/suitable/convenient for your company. How flexible am I? Write me and see.

There are two near term important business plays. The first one (above) is a big one. The second one (below) is bigger. The ideal business partner that Tangerine is seeking, is one that recognizes potential in both. Future media will significantly impact “cognitive computing”.

  1. Cognitive Computing. The question, “What is thinking?” has absorbed my thoughts for decades. It spurred my interest in reading, writing, philosophy, science and technology, for as long as I can remember. It’s the basis of innovations that occurred to me later, after being educated in Architecture and working for years on building designs, thinking and communicating through models and drawing. I was able to take my ideas, about thinking itself, and the role of media in the development of thought, and possibilities for the evolution of media, to a CAD software company (Bentley Systems, http://www.bentley.com ), where some of my early ideas about the evolution of media have now been realized. My work there was commercialized in 2012, and later patented. But that’s just preparatory background for what comes next. Those were just baby steps. My new innovations, which are not yet patented, and which I have not shared publicly, are far more matured, far more powerful, with far greater potential, and are completely untethered from any of the claims in the prior patents. My new work makes the 2015 and 2016 patent grants obsolete and irrelevant. This new work I want to share with any company developing what’s possible in the field of cognitive computing. What does media innovation have to do with Cognitive Computing? Well, everything, in my opinion. I explain briefly as follows.

A brain in a box …is of no use in its box.

A brain in a box, (as Dharmendra Modha has said https://youtu.be/2er6jWUGDuI ) is of no use in its box.

A mind, becomes what it is, through engagement with an environment of information, within which it is immersed (however it is that a mind undertakes such engagement).

So, or But…

What is thinking?

You might answer: “I have no idea.”

This is most certainly the correct answer. As Noam Chomsky says in his talk “The machine, the ghost, and the limits of understanding“, what the mind is, how it works, is at present (and may always be) beyond the limits of our understanding.

At 26:52 in his talk https://youtu.be/D5in5EdjhD0 , Chomsky says:

“The theory of evolution of course places humans firmly within the natural world. It regards humans as biological organisms, very much like others, and for every such organism, its capacities have scope and limits. The two go together. That includes the cognitive domain…

What we can understand about the mind, or about anything else, has both scope and limits. And though there are limits, still we can continue to make useful observations and hypotheses, about how thinking works.

Two simple ideas/observations about thinking

I’ve made a couple of very simple observations myself.

  1. The first idea is that media is a place where thinking happens, where ideas develop and are clarified, where understanding grows, both for authors and for readers/viewers. For some kinds of thinking, human beings develop various kinds of media, the purpose of which, it seems, is to facilitate thinking. I’m referring to media types like written text, spreadsheets, drawings, spatial modeled environments, photos, painting… It’s in these media that our thoughts develop and our understanding grows. It’s important to note that certain kinds of thinking are really not possible without these media. Or, rather, the development of thought, without access to these media, is cut short. In media, thoughts are unfolded and developed. I give some examples of this in my brief 9-part short article: https://tangerinefocusdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/the-field-of-play-9/   [what are these things (drawings and models) fundamentally?]
  2. The second idea is that thinking seems almost always, if not always, to involve a kind of bouncing back and forth between wholes and parts. Thinking is a ping-ponging — between the “pings” of deliberate acts of articulated narrowing focus, and the “pong” of the whole of an environment. Or more generally, a back and forth between concepts (which are broad) and exemplar information (which is narrower) supporting the concept.

So most importantly, where media becomes the place for the development of human thought, for the growth of understanding and its communication among human minds, so it is that such media, rich with potential cross-data-type correlative events, ripe for a cognitive system to detect and evaluate, becomes the place for the development of machine cognitive systems and the growth of their understanding. New media, developed from the innovations that Tangerine envisions, will be fertile ground for the application of cognitive systems, and their development.

Let me put it another way. A brain in a box cannot think. A brain in a data environment can get to work. But a brain in a fertile field may gain traction not otherwise possible.

Fertile Ground for Cognitive Systems

Cognitive Systems, immersed within and parsing the new media environments that we envision and facilitate, may gain new traction building connectivity maps through diverse kinds of data, in a medium that better reveals semantic continuity, bridging gaps across diverse, traditionally disconnected data types, through detection and evaluation of potential correlations that otherwise are difficult or impossible to detect. Therefore, Tangerine believes that this new set of media innovations will contribute to computer vision, with application in industrial, entertainment, and healthcare applications, and may contribute to general artificial intelligence. Tangerine’s media innovations will be applicable in all kinds of spatial (“3D”) digital media, and in the various kinds of hybridized visual data environments, with applicability across all display types including desktop and mobile standard display, projection, and VR and AR systems with or without eyeware.

In one sentence, Tangerine believes that these new spatial visual media environments — that contain within themselves the deliberate human acts of articulate sense-making narrowing focus that fosters human understanding — are going to result in a new kind of data environment in common use, that is far richer in cross-data type correlation, and therefore is more fertile ground for intelligent cognitive systems (human and machine) for seeking and finding meaningful understanding of very complex spatial and visual (and other kinds of) data.

OK. a second sentence: in such an environment, a cognitive system like IBM Watson, could engage in productive conversation (with humans), responding to open-ended questions about complex environments, complex questions that are neither easily formulated, nor easily answered.

Tangerine’s media innovations will prove uniquely useful everywhere that conventional drawing and modeling today are useful. We’re going to bring new beauty and power to media itself, and in doing so, we going to improve thinking, and make understanding grow, fuller, faster, better. And we’re going to accomplish this both for human thinking, and for cognitive systems.

Go to part 3: specifics of what we’re proposing to accomplish.

This is an article in three parts about Tangerine, the media innovation and cognitive computing software company that I founded in 2016. Our work re-envisions media itself and will fuel important advancements in cognitive computing. Software companies: Partner with us!

part 1: my background, my motivations for starting the company

part 2: the business opportunities for software company partners

part 3: specifics of what we’re proposing to accomplish.

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