26 July 2014

In the 21st Century BC, Nebo was the Babylonian God of wisdom and writing. He determined the lives of every human being by writing their story on to sacred clay tablets, and thus was responsible for the ultimate fate of mankind.

Now in the 21st Century AD, Nebo has been resurrected in a new guise, to free each of us from false choices and false aspirations. Together with Nebo, we will determine our own fate once again.

Nebo is an online service and range of objects that employ some of the techniques of marketers and advertisers not to make you buy things, but to make you lead a more fulfilling and happier life. Nebo is advertising that influences you to act in your own best interests.

Nebo will come to know you better than you know yourself.

This project is a ‘tech start up from the near future’. It was progressed while I was one of the Design Museum’s Designers In Residence 2013.

Object # 1, Gateway Router
You begin with Nebo by receiving the Gateway in to your home. It is a computer and wireless router, that ‘over powers’ existing wireless internet connections, becoming the gateway through which the devices in your home connect to the internet. When they connect to the Gateway, Nebo will install itself on to all your households’ computers, tablets and smartphones. In the beginning it’ll just track your patterns and habits, observing what you read, buy, and watch online, where you go and what you do with your phone, as well as gathering login details for the various online services you use. After around four weeks you will start to notice changes in what influences you’re exposed to.

Object # 2, TV Controller
Nebo Object # 2 plugs in to your television. It knows what influences you’re currently seeing, and will intervene as necessary. It will change the meaning conveyed by adverts, show you content you need to see and occlude content that is of no benefit to you.

Object # 3, Purse Strings
‘You are what you buy’, so you and Nebo will change what you can buy, when, and where by taking control of your cash and cards. This wallet will influence what you buy, and even won’t let you spend money on certain things, at certain times at certain places.

Object # 4, Resoled Shoes
Depending on the changes you and Nebo need to make, you may be required to send us a pair of boots for resoling. We’ll send them back with a GPS tracker and Nebo embedded in the new soles. You’ll be set destinations to wear them to and Nebo will know if you get there.

Chris says:

Hi Thomas,

I am a technology investor and growth strategy consultant with a passion for products and services that improve the human condition. I share many of your perspectives on challenges people face in the digital, capitalist society in which we live and opportunities to meet these challenges with intelligent technology.

I saw your exhibit on Nebo at the Design Museum in London and was immediately captivated. Nebo is a innovative project and a potentially exciting business opportunity, and I’d love an opportunity to connect for an introductory chat. I hope to hear from you over e-mail.

Warm regards,

Brill says:

Hey Thomas,
I’m a guy. I think that Nebo is a grand idea, exciting and goes alongside ideas I’ve been having about giving people ways to break out of the manipulations our medias and culture impose.
I just heard about your Nebo and the goat project today. I love the idea of eating grass and ranging on the mountains with goats! The article I read called it a devolution, but I disagree, it’s lateral.
I am a Human- Computer Breeder, and I’d love an opportunity to connect for an introductory chat. I hope to hear from you over the internets.
Hot regards,

Thomas_Thwaites says:

Hey Brill, sure! I’ve discovered a whole load of comments on my website (that I of course rarely look at or update … I should make it notify me or something when I get a comment!). So yep, email me! best, thomas

mike says:

Surely this is the kind of thing Philip K Dick was writing about decades ago?

Best Wishes


Greebo says:

I believe the referenced study of conscious will is accurate but is extrapolating from an insufficient sample. Most of us are indeed ‘elephant riders’, but a few of us spend years ‘training’ this ‘elephant’. The analogy of the human riding a large and powerful beast is not new. In most cases the beast does indeed control the human, who then rationalizes his or her compulsion. It is a mistake to conclude that there is no alternative even if it is uncommon.

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