Daily Archives: January 28, 2010

Using Holograms for History?

This video clip was sent to me yesterday. It comes from an American Idol  show from 2007. Since I only watch AI infrequently, I was unaware of this performance. Celine practiced with an Elvis impersonator to get things right before they used the hologram.

If you continue to watch the clip, you can see a young man at a laptop showing how a hologram of himself can be displayed. It is obvious that the viewer can see through the hologram and see the desk behind. The video clip of Elvis is not quite so easy to see through.

I have seen holograms many times before. In the new Springfield IL Abraham Lincoln Museum you can see the man walking and talking.  Star Wars first introduced most of us to the concept of holograms almost thirty years ago.  We were amazed at that time. Then, three years ago, CISCO Systems demonstrated Telepresence to an audience in India.

Actually, the beginnings of hologram technology dates back to the 19th Century. A program in a London theater showed Pepper’s Ghost returning for one night.

Now all of this is very entertaining. That was the first use of this technology. Now CISCO is saying doctors will be able to do physical examinations with telepresence. The military is somehow using it with fighter pilots. I guess its uses are only limited by unstretched imaginations. The good that this and future technology of this kind will be able to do is currently beyond most folks’ imaginations.

The first thing I thought of with Celine and Elvis singing together, though, was that this clip was reshaping history. Now, granted, it was done purely for entertainment. But think of the CISCO clip where two people in the present seem to be interacting. Both were still alive. Obviously, as at the Springfield Museum, the dead can also walk and talk.

What could this possibly do to our history? We are relying more and more on videos and less and less on books to record our past. How soon will it be before despots and unbalanced leaders will use all of this technology to rewrite history in such a way to favor themselves? Before a leader dies, but supporters keep him or her “alive” to show the masses that all is well? Before whole chapters of our history are erased by “evidence” to the contrary?

For example, people already deny the happening of the German Holocaust during WW II. What if there is something to be gained by someone able to “prove” that the Holocaust never happened? The people who actually lived through that era are fewer by the day. They are no longer around to dispute any historical changes. Right now I can’t think of what “evidence” might be provided, but then again I have no reason to wish to change history.

How can someone defend herself, if there is “evidence” of a video showing her in a certain situation at a certain time? We already use miles of security tapes to prove the presence of someone at a particular scene. How long will it be before that “presence” is simply a new and improved hologram?

I applaud new technology. I am not naive enough to say nothing should be new. I do question, however, whether anyone is bothering to be a watchdog so that the new technology doesn’t become a tool in the wrong hands.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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