One of the masters of science fiction, Neal Stephenson, may be on staff at Magic Leap, but that doesn't mean he can't take a moment to visit the halls of competitor Microsoft, the maker of the HoloLens.
The author is currently promoting his new book Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, and as part of his promotion, he's storming all media, including corporate video shows.
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Stephenson joined Microsoft corporate vice president Brad Anderson on his YouTube series "The Shiproom" to talk all things tech and sci-fi.
The most significant moment during the interview occurs when the futurist is asked to play a game: predict which edge technologies will be most impactful through a march-madness style bracket. And while Stephenson covers an incredibly wide array of technology in his work, it turns out that he picks augmented reality as the winning edge technology ahead of things like quantum computing, neural link computer interfaces, and thorium reactors.
Of course, Microsoft didn't miss the opportunity to leverage the appearance of the Magic Leap employee by tweeting from its HoloLens account: "We're honored @NealStephenson picked #AugmentedReality in the face-off for the ultimate winner of the future of tech. We couldn't agree more. ;)" On top of that, the episode starts with Stephenson sitting behind a giant Microsoft 365 logo. Not. Awkward. At. All.
As for Stephenson's book, it's massive at 880 pages (normal for Stephenson), so I haven't had a chance to read it. But according to the synopsis, it involves cloud computing and the process of uploading one's brain to that cloud.
We're a long way off from realistically achieving such a feat, but that isn't stopping Stephenson from taking us into speculative territory anyway.
Fortunately, his bet on AR isn't speculative, and this brief intersection between the worlds of Magic Leap and HoloLens is just one more indication of how powerful the space is becoming as a focus of attention for the largest tech companies on the planet.