In the last Friday Futures of 2019, we posted a TED video of Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Labs. His passion has always been how humans and computers interact. The video shows many of his predictions over the years – and many of his quirkier hair styles. Some of his predictions have come true, some have been a little wide of the mark.
One that is a very current topic is wearable technology. Back in 2007, he was working with people who were bolting together weird looking glasses and figuring out how to use them as a computer interface.
Some time later, Google launched Glass and how we laughed. We imagined combining Google Glass with money transfer techniques, location sharing apps and who knows what. And we ended up describing a bunch of extremely strange people blinking and winking their way down the street, bumping into things and generally looking absurd.
Then Google Glass disappeared, only to resurface as an enterprise application.
Negroponte was asked at the end of the talk at TED for his current predictions (it was 2014 at the time).
He said he believed that in 30 years’ time we would be ingesting information. We will be able to take a pill and we would be able to speak English (other languages are available). He believes that the information would be absorbed by the bloodstream and enter the brain that way.
Since then, others have had similarly insane (or futuristic) ideas about how humans and computers will interact. Elon Musk’s Neuralink is the obvious one.
One thing they all agree on is that fingers and keyboards are becoming ridiculously inefficient as the interface. As the amount and depth of information increases at ever greater rates, it seems right that we need an interface that can keep up.
Whether that interface is in the form of a pill, a drink or a neuralink of some kind, we will have to wait and see. It is, however, fun – and useful – to look a long way ahead when we are returning to a normal schedule involving emails and texts and tweets.
While we address the issues of 2020 and we set about making social media social again and making the internet great again and watching Presidential elections and wishing there was a paint drying channel, we should get into a habit of looking up and ahead.
And wondering what might be in store. And how to make it good.