VRENAR Reflections #1
Some thoughts on the current status of VRENAR, and what next
This article is the first of what might become a very occasional reflective series.
As in all developments, reflection is needed now and then to take stock of unexpected outcomes for which changes may need to be made, and to mark where subsequent changes in strategy occur.
The main observation at this moment is that project funding has yet to be obtained.
Of course I am surprised.
My credentials and history alone are normally enough to sell any project I commit to.
So I take full responsibility. I have to admit that I have not yet managed to sell the benefits of the project to significant contributors.
The main mistake I’ve made is most likely on mindset. It has two parts:
- I perfected the change of my own mindset as necessary to eat, sleep, and breathe VRENAR; ignoring that I might need to retain a little capability to do conventional business “On the side”, to survive.
- I underestimated the difficulty of imbuing the new mindset in others, specifically, in people in a position to help with VRENAR funding.
A further mistake is my underestimation of the time needed to show a simulation of the system economics operating in “Closed Loop” mode. This has been in process since around the beginning of the year, and a document Named “Application of Metcalfs law to VRENAR”, fully prepared with everything except the results of the final simulation has been awaiting publish since around then.
The problem with the simulation is that a controller is required to modulate funds issued to users, in such a way that the market value of an initial bootstrap fund is restored and maintained at the initial value, during the gradual depletion of the bootstrap capital token stock, during the network bootstrapping period.
Conventional controllers can be shown to work in restricted circumstances. However, to be robust to market conditions, the controller needs to be able to adjust its own control parameters to maintain control of the bootstrap capital over a wide range of varying circumstances, none of which we can predict in advance.
So the controller has to be an intelligent algorithm. The most readily available type available in the modelling toolset is a neural network based controller. There are many variations of this, each with subtleties affecting their successful application. So for me, with minimal experience of applying those in the past, a large learning curve is associated. In addition, the network has the characteristics of a utility which varies greatly in value, through many orders of magnitude. That variance is amplified by the number of users in the network squared (Metcalf), so causes havoc when we introduce payment for users.
Note the utility constant in a Metcalf characteristic does not normally change much, this is the first time I know of in history that the utility of all users in the network receiving payment has been considered in a Metcalf analysis.
The utility of a payment less than needed to sustain a user is very different from that which more than sustains a user, so the utility is dependent on the reward, which is controlled by the controller, giving us a circular relationship which further complicates the task of the network controller.
Funds for me personally to keep running with VRENAR alone are now entirely exhausted.
So I am necessarily spending some time adjusting mindset again, making the necessary adjustments to address my domestic circumstances, marketing my professional services to others.
Practical considerations on my mind right now, in addition to the obvious one of keeping a roof over my head, are things like how to maintain the VRENAR related web services like email, web hosting, and domain name, which all cost money to maintain, besides the usual domestic bills… and credit payments.
It is not the end of the road for VRENAR.
Worst case it is the beginning of one that is longer, and more winding, but it still leads to the same place; implementation of it, or something very like it, one way or another, sooner or later, with or without my help.
Unlike a commercial venture, VRENAR does not have any time limit to launch, no “Window of opportunity”.
There are no competitors in the non-profit landscape. No-one to steal and run with the plan, no profit to be won. There are only potential collaborators, and a joint recognition of a basic human need that continues to exist, until it is met.
Basic Human Need
Humanity needs to be free of profit slavery, in order to get on with our true vocation as the guardians of our planet.
If that seems like an extreme way of putting it, we have to ask ourselves if we are not ourselves suffering from the problematic mindset identified.
Profit slavery is the current apparent necessity for all humans to continually seek, and make profit from others to survive. The so called “Zero-sum game”.
Civilisation of cannibalism is not civilisation.
If I say anything other than the absolute truth, then I am not being honest. I would be hypocritically using the same tactics as are symptoms of the very mindset identified as the problem, to try to sell the project to those who might be in a position to help.
Again I would be surprised if anyone else picks up VRENAR and runs with it
This is not because I know I am the world’s best Engineer (Even though of course I do!), or any other kind of special person, but it is due to the unique path I’ve had to follow, that led me to the required mindset. So I do not believe there is anyone more capable than me, of at least being instrumental in making it happen.
Honestly, I would dearly love to be proven wrong there.
The advice (Or even appeal) I would make to anyone else thinking of taking it on, or even already also working on it, or a similar non-profit like it; let’s collaborate. I have covered a very large area of purpose driven research, and that data, supported by much analysis and modeling work, by my expertise, and more importantly belief, to put it to use, is very valuable to the project. No-one has anything to lose, no profits to defend, so nothing to gain by working in secret (other than peace and quiet to get on with the job).
I’ve spent several years now working on VRENAR related activities, around professional time spent in Engineering Consulting for clients, full time on the odd breaks in between.
On the latest of those breaks between contracts, for around six months now, I have pretty much deliberately avoided consulting again, to devote 100% of my time working on VRENAR unfunded, to try to finally get it rolling with some funding, so as to be able to switch my dependence on Consulting over to VRENAR, or something that might lead to the development of it.
If you’ve read any number of my articles and comments here in Medium (Well over 440 now); you will know I hardly ever stop banging on about it.
We often read about writers experiencing writing blocks, specially those depending on it for an income. Sounds really unfortunate, and my heart goes out to them.
I have exactly the opposite problem. I am never short of things to write about, and always have two or three in production, publishing when things are going well, at least one per day. The more I write, the more material I realise needs to be written about. It is a real struggle for me to keep articles short.
Lately my effort has more or less been firefighting on the financial front, so my work on VRENAR, and thus my writing output has dropped little. It might stay low for a while until I have settled back in my former position in life, back down near the bottom of the proverbial “Ladder”, that I had to climb earlier in my career to date.
VRENAR is relevant to so much of life, and it is the most stimulating project I have worked on in my life, both technically and spiritually. There is scarcely a story I read, or a news comment, or a discussion in any forum which would not be positively impacted by its successful implementation. Believe it or not, I do usually try to bite my lip.
Key Elements of The Journey to Date
In essence, Remote-me is a scheme to remotely fly drones in first person view via anywhere on the internet. The main enabling technology is a kind of automatic photogrammetry on the fly. Another term for this is structure-from-motion (“SfM”), meaning the ability to create 3D structural objects from moving sensor footage.
Remote-me began in 2014 when I left an employment with Cobham as a Research Engineer, at the end of the ASTRAEA civilian drone research program. At that time I still had the standard business mindset, seeing some commercial value in the Remote-me Use Case. The main one was the impact to capturing 3D surveys. This is something still done largely by manual photogrammetry, from a series of still photographs taken around the subject of the survey, most often nowadays from a drone (At one time it would have required a helicopter).
The Remote-me control scheme carries out that task automatically in real time, as a by-product, 100% efficient in real time, no manual photogrammetry photographic or post processing skills or other work required, thus allowing the drone operator to get on with whatever other tasks might be in hand during the UAV flight.
The Remote-me PhD
The full title of the PhD project, with the Open University is:
“The Possibilities of First Person View Interactions between Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and the Users of Virtual Worlds”
As of January of 2017, the Remote-me project became a PhD academic project , titled as above, from being a commercial product development project, after it became apparent it was not possible to just connect an FPV or VR headset directly to a camera on the UAV via the internet. The data lag via the internet is just too much, hence the reason we have never seen any of the larger manufacturers achieving anything like this.
Remote-me does have some real potential of disrupting existing markets, and subsequently making a very tidy profit.
VRENAR (VR Enabled AR)
As the PhD studies progressed, the profit likely from Remote-me, and the practical benefits of it soon became eclipsed by the immense potential utility and financial benefits of VRENAR, for all people, not just me.
I have always had a natural instinct to pursue working in areas of cutting edge technology.
Before VRENAR, for me those things were big complex systems; Model Based Design, VR, Ai, Drones, and Blockchain, listed roughly in order of priority of my interest.
But since jumping down the rabbit-hole of VRENAR, my instinct has been screaming that here, by putting all of those things together in a particular way (Non-profit, open source distributed environment), we have a whole new area of technology capable of re-purposing humanity itself, towards adding value, both to ourselves and to our planet, instead of being a burden to ourselves and our planet.
By “jumping down the rabbit-hole”, I mean I simply applied my knowledge of standard System Engineering Design techniques to set about examining what the stakeholders of the system; all people, will want to get out of it as a top level requirement.
The main thing all people are concerned with is financial security, and thus financial freedom.
Working from that abstract top level user requirement down through the system conceptual design, by progressively transforming abstraction to system implementation in layers, in the usual formal Systems Engineering fashion from top to bottom, we see that such an unlikely concept for all people, is in fact routinely possible.
Academic research further reveals many relevant recent papers showing the maths at work behind these mechanisms, further underpinning the reality of how the system economics delivers financial wealth for all users.
It is not magic, no-one is being paid for nothing. All users are directly rewarded for their valuable human information, as evaluated by the collective, which is added to the world, thus boosting the value of the world. This reflects in the market value of the token of the community, which is essentially the value added to the world by the community, in terms of the token. Each one of the smallest divisible units of the token represents the smallest minutia of a valuable human thought, made by an individual. Since the token is owned by the community, the community is further rewarded by the increase in the market value of the token.
So now, with the technical proof in the system concept design, the immediate challenge is no longer technical, it is ideological.
To correct it, we must ask ourselves honestly if the idea of money continuously issued in response to actual value added to the planet by each individual seems so crazy compared with the continuous issuance of fiat money in response to debt commitments.
We should note also that both systems can exist in tandem.
The Project Model
Both the VRENAR project and within it the Remote-me project, are contained within a combined project UML model. This model effectively contains all of the work of the project. Embedded within the UML model are elements of Matlab Simulink models.
Graphically documented executable code can be generated from most elements of both the UML and Matlab Simulink models, enabling the system to be simulated (i.e. tested) at any point in the design process.
This is a formal system development technique known as Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). It is my main specialism as a consultant Systems Engineer. It is the same process as I have carried out in practice many times, in the design of satellite communications systems, airport systems, air traffic management systems, aircraft systems, and submarine systems, to quote some examples.
These techniques are themselves the subject of much investment and rapidly moving development, so it is necessary for practitioners to maintain our knowledge of the latest developments in order to continue practicing it effectively. My PhD candidate researcher status helps greatly with that, as in addition to the required software tools, I also have access to all of the academic research resources available. This includes access to all of the applicable industrial standards databases, which is normally further expense for enterprise.
The Mindset Change from Remote-me to VRENAR
My mindset went from profit driven, on realising some of the other things that portable SfM enables.
A whole new world, no less.
When pretty much all portable devices have SfM capability in the very near future, then the whole physical world will effectively be in the process of becoming rapidly digitised, i.e. scanned to 3D virtual objects.
We are already seeing some mobile phones with TOF (Time of flight) camera technology similar to that required by SfM. As of the summer of 2017, SfM itself has been out there, just not quite yet in devices as small as phones.
So it is only a matter of time before SfM hits the streets in our phones. A year or two at most.
Where that rapid digitisation of the world has potentially immense human enhancing power, which, when deposited in a common virtual reality VR world, is accessible by all in the real world AR display technology, which is in essence a means of seeing both the real world and the digitised world at the same time. This together with the technology of distributed ledger, which is a means when assisted by Ai, of recording and directly monetising our own human information minutiae, which we constantly generate, every minute of every day.
Some immediately obvious benefits of all of this are as follows:
- Ability and freedom to talk to our friends and relatives once again in the physical world whilst not losing touch with our connected world. Reclusing to a screen will no longer be necessary for most things. Physical socialising will be back, bigger than ever, as we will all have so much to talk about that we can all see together, since we will all be AR equipped. AR wearables will be the phones of the very near future. The system functions as a new, far more immersive, and yet far more social media.
- Ability to put many people from many different parts of the world together to interact with us in the same place, or to remote ourselves to any other place of theirs and/or our own choosing.
- An ability (Growing over time), for any and all to look back in time at any part of the world we choose, at any time, effectively seeing history replayed, as it happened.
- An ability (Again growing over time), to simulate the future of any place or scenario as above, enhancing our capability of seeing into the future.
- Income which is geared directly to our human activity, both mental and physical, which is paid directly back to us as it is generated.
The size of this new family of “Superhuman” self monetising Use cases is truly huge, limited literally only by the extent of our imagination.
Conceptually, the rabbit hole is golden, a real treasure trove. The further into it we go, the more gold we find.
It seems a form of Utopia, too good to be true.
Indeed it is a form of Utopia.
But it can only be done as a non-profit.
The money of the System must be aligned with the interests of the user, whose basic interest is to add maximum value to our world. This is the opposite of the interests of a business seeking to profit from users.
But if it is too good to be true, it is all our own fault, because individually, we choose to continue working in enslavement mode, which also happens to be contrary to the interests of our planet.
There is no logical argument to sustain that mode of working. It is sustained simply because it is all we’ve ever done. It has never been done another way, as far as we know. Arguably, it brought us, humanity, to where we are now.
But now we are all networked. Now we have all of the required technologies, literally at our fingertips.
We no longer have an excuse.
My effort on VRENAR has to be stepped down a little, to allow time to seek necessary professional engagements, and to rearrange my domestic circumstances (I won’t go into details there, but believe me, it is drastic).
The next few Medium Articles from me are likely to be further on the theme of selling my self, rather than VRENAR.
All could change back to VRENAR again, if some serious funds come in.
IOTA finally informed that the VRENAR funding proposal has been dismissed. Hey-ho, it had the potential to be a great technical solution. It is still in my opinion technically the best token. However, the subsequent attempts seen by IOTA to add a contracts programmability function to IOTA have so far not come to anything. This looks to me like a classic example of trying to build a complex system purely from coding, “Ground up”, with no regard to formal system Engineering techniques, which work from stakeholder needs, downwards. So we should not expect much to be achieved there in the near future. No opportunity has been seen to offer my own Systems Engineering services to assist with their needs, as say part of a VRENAR collaboration deal or otherwise.
I wish them the very best of luck for the future.
The VRENAR system model will now necessarily be adjusted for a new token.
There are many alternatives out there, including Ethereum, which we know does use at least some formal System Engineering techniques (For example, see the Eclipse UML to Solidity transform), and which should help overcome at least some of the scaling limitations we’ve seen, that prevented our continued use of it previously.