VMworld 2014 San Francisco: Final Day


VMworld does something special for the Press and Bloggers, it reserves several tables near the front of the auditorium with power cords and a special WiFi feed. This makes it easy to take lousy low light photos from one’s iPhone. Having written on Day 1 and Day 2 of VMworld, on the last day we learned that attendees had attended 9,300 labs.

And they raised $248,460 through Destination GiveBack.

The last day is usually reserved for innovations, last year’s was about robots and 3D printing. This time: People Plus Machines.

Jane McGonigalJane McGonigal, Super Better Labs, Chief Creative Officer VR Game Designer and Author “Reality is Broken”

She started by sharing:

  • There are 1 billion gamers worldwide who spend 1 hour/day on a connected device.
  • Angry Birds: 300 million minutes a day = 400,000 years of vengeance
  • Call of Duty 170 hours a year/player = 1 month of full-time work every year. 1 in 4 players called in sick on launch day: “Call of Duty Flu”
  • 81% of global workers are not engaged. Gallup 2013
  • The longer you stay in school, the less engaged you become. Elementary 76%, high school 61%, college 40%
  • Kids under 18: 99% of boys vs 94% of girls play games. 92% of two-year olds play games.

She has a PhD and suspects that she’s the only one to have done 13 years of research on this topic. She believes in the future we’ll all play games.

Playing games evokes 10 Positive emotions like: Joy, Relief, Love (oxytocin — hold hands for 6 seconds), Surprise, Pride, Curiosity, Excitement, Awe & Wonder, Contentment, Creativity.

Example: Massively Multiplayer Thumb-Wrestling. With 22,000 attendees connected across aisles we set a new world record for playing this game.

Playing games afford these positive emotions: games make us resilient. Set higher goals for ourselves and don’t give up.

“The opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression” said a philosopher of gaming You must play the game itself, not just watch to get the hippocampus, thalamus and caudate activated. These are under activated in clinical depression.

Active vs. Passive

Jane wants to see more super-empowered hopeful individuals

  • Self-supression vs. Self-expansion.
  • Not feeling negative impressions vs. pursuing strong emotions.
  • Play to escape vs. Play with purpose.

James PattenJames Patten, Founder and President, Patten Studios. Inventor, visual designer, TED Fellow

Tangible interfaces. Electronically tagged pucks (objects) that talk to the computer. Example: Audio path. Our mind and hands are tuned for using tools. Physical object that represents something in the robot. These pucks can be controlled by the computer as well, as the user moves one the others move via electromagnets. Omni wheels roll well in one direction, but gain traction in another direction. An object can move without turning.

When he proposed his talk to VMworld, VMware asked “How can you touch Data?”


Datapoints appear on an X-Y graph for certain medical information about a group of patients. 31 things are known about each dot (patient). Weight-height, Cholesterol-weight. Robot can be tied to a datapoint. Another robot displays, by moving, drug interaction red dots. FOXP1, weight, and LDL cholesterol relates to a drug interaction.


Sean Gourley, Co-founder Quid. Physicist, collective intelligence researcher, TED Fellow, Rhodes Scholar

When it comes to playing chess, a human is can think 4 moves ahead, the computer can plan at least 8 steps ahead. This led to freestyle chess. 48 teams, no rules. It wasn’t Artificial Intelligence that won, but Augmented Intelligence. This could work Weather Predictions: a 36 hour forecast is more accurate than 72 hour forecast, which has improved over the years. 15Bx increase in computational speed over the last several years. 16% improvement when you add humans to machines only. What is the interface between humans and machines? Expert: Intuition. They know what to do when everything is noisy and chaotic around them. The precuneus is the part of the brain that does pattern matching. Expert chess players light up this part of the brain twice as much as amateur chess players. The caudate nucleus associated with learned response functions showed up in fMRI for best move. It takes about 10,000 hours to train your brain for chess. Or to become an expert in almost anything. Experts have a particular insight into solving problems. But it takes a long time to log 10,000 hours. What if a computer could help you do this?

Computational => Subconscious. Build software to do this.



Sean’s company Quid builds software to augment this part of the brain. Augmented Intelligence allows us to better navigate a complex world. He took all the articles on “Space Industry” from a Google search, and found through the Quid engine that it wasn’t just about NASA. Rather, through their engine they could find clusters of information around other topics. Indeed, Satellites seems to be the most often talked about topic for the “Space Industry” on the Internet. This is a map that a space expert might draw.

It reminds me of psychohistory suggested by Isaac Asimov in his Hugo award winning trilogy “Foundation.” In the story, the mathematician Hari Seldon spent his life developing a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept of mathematical sociology. Using the laws of mass action, it can predict the future, but only on a large scale. This may be a start to that kind of Augmented Intelligence.



See you next August in San Francisco for VMworld 2015.

Thanks for coming along.


About billpetro

Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

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