Humane Ships Something

Humane is an intriguing, secretive startup founded by the husband-and-wife team of Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno. You may recall I linked to an interview with them in January 2020. Chaudhri and Bongiorno are both former Apple executives, and many of Humane’s employees are ex-Apple too. That’s a major reason why there’s so much interest in what they’re working on. I have a samizdat copy of a Humane investor slide deck from 2021, which describes a sort of button you wear on your chest. The button is equipped with a camera and lidar to see and record the world, recognize hand gestures, and maybe uses lasers or something to project an interface onto surfaces like your hand. Or in the words of Humane’s slide deck, they’re building a “cloud connected sight enabled AI platform with server side app echo system.” (Not sure if that needs a “sic” or not — my copy of the slide deck says “echo system” not “ecosystem”.)

Anyway, still silence from Humane on the product, but they spent the first weeks of July hyping a short film the company commissioned, titled Change Everything. Bongiorno says they’ve had the film envisioned for years.

The film is out, and the only effect it had on me was to increase my skepticism about what Humane is building. It feels like something that aspires to the punch of Apple’s iconic 1984 ad by Ridley Scott, but with the punch and swagger replaced by New Age vapidity and hubris. (Also worth noting: Steve Jobs pulled the first Macintosh out of its bag on stage two days after 1984 aired.)

Sometimes a dead canary is just a dead canary, and sometimes a dud ad is just a dud ad, but I’d check the Humane mine for methane just in case.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022