Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab.
In 1984, Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab, delivered his first TED talk and, “with surprising accuracy,” made five predictions for the future. Of course, 30 years ago, naysayers argued sensory computing wasn’t the future; people would never use their fingers as some alternative stylus. (Video)
“Everybody thought it was ridiculous,” said Negroponte in his most recent TED talk, filmed this March. “Papers were published about how stupid it was to use fingers.”
Thirty years later, and critics’ heads hang in shame. Apple sold its five millionth iPhone in March; Android now boasts one billion 30-day active users. Our sticky fingers smudge the screens of our smartphones and tablets without us even thinking twice about it.
“Let me say something about 1984, and that particular TED talk,” said Negroponte in a previous BostInno interview. “They were ‘extrapolations.’ I just took what we were doing and projected it forward.”
So, what does Negroponte’s latest prediction mean for 30 years from now? On the TED stage, he said:
My prediction — and this is a prediction, because it’ll be 30 years. I won’t be here — but one of the things about learning how to read, we have been doing a lot of consuming of information going through our eyes, and so that may be a very inefficient channel. So my prediction is that we are going to ingest information. You’re going to swallow a pill and know English. You’re going to swallow a pill and know Shakespeare. And the way to do it is through the bloodstream. So once it’s in your bloodstream, it basically goes through it and gets into the brain, and when it knows that it’s in the brain in the different pieces, it deposits it in the right places. So it’s ingesting.
Yes, Negroponte said it. “You’re going to swallow a pill and know English.”
Between the remote-controlled contraceptive device that can be implanted under the skin andmouse inception, however — both spun out of MIT — is Negroponte’s prediction as crazy as it sounds or just shockingly realistic?
Watch his TED talk and chime in in the comments section. Does the future Negroponte is proposing sound ludicrous? TED Curator Chris Anderson promised:
We will check it out. We’re going to be back and we’re going to play this clip 30 years from now, and then all eat the red pill.