TED Conversations

Tim O'Reilly

CEO, O'Reilly Media


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William Gibson said "The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." What futures have you seen that are here, but unrecognized?

In the late 70s, when the Homebrew Computer Club was meeting, its members were beginning to experience the world that we all now take for granted. In 1992, when I published the Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog, there were only 200 websites, but we featured the WWW in the book because it was so clearly the shape of things to come. When Jeff Han demoed his multi-touch screen at TED in February 2006, he prefigured the iPhone launch a year later. When the kids at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition are modifying bacteria, they are showing us homebrew genetic engineering around the corner. Make Magazine's enthusiasts are becoming tomorrow's industrialists, with companies like Makerbot, DIY Drones, and Willow Garage Robotics turning what once seemed like an curiosity into real businesses.

In each case, these people were already living in a future that was soon to rush upon us all.

What have you seen lately that has made you stand up and say "Whoa! That person knows something I don't, is living in a world I haven't seen yet?" The answers can be from technology, but can also be new social forms, and can be positive or negative.

Point me to companies and individuals who tell you something about the shape of the future by the way they are living or the work they are doing.

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    Feb 15 2011: 1) Places in Finland, Afghanistan where they use phones as their wallet and bank.

    2) Toddlers using an iPad.

    3) Street food trucks and Twitter.

    4) Robot battles, battle bots, robot olympics.

    5) Obsessive quantified self monitoring, fitbit, zeo

    6) Embryonic genetic screening

    7) Ultra performance techniques for athletes

    8) Laser fusion power

    9) Auto pilot cars now on the road

    10) Google translation
    • Feb 16 2011: Google Translation is a good example of a broader current in machine intelligence & recognition. Machines, in general, are not just becoming network-aware but are also becoming aware of the world around them. Simultaneously, our interface with machines is increasingly hands-free, driven by natural language, gestures, and active sensing.

      Developments pushing this larger trend include augmented reality, biometrics, mobile health monitoring, automated cars, personal & enterprise-scale robotics, chemical sniffers & environmental sensors, mobile accelerometers & GPS, and the ever-increasing dependence of humans on machines as extensions of our cognitive and analytic framework.
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      Feb 19 2011: To which I would add:

      a) You nailed it with Out of Control, a hugely important book very badly marketed

      b) Also compassion, empathy, teamwork, the return of the arts and finally, we earn our way out of quarentine and get to play in the inter-galactic sandbox.
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    Feb 15 2011: did you notice that some people make a living by playing computer games? did you notice that some other people make a living by casting these games on youtube? ridiculous, isn't it? i bet people in 1800 said it is ridiculous that someone makes a living by telling other people how to decorate their flats. or casting sport events.

    as we develop, or economy went through phases, from agriculture-dominated to industry-dominated, then to service-dominated. my forecast for the next phase is entertainment-dominated. soon, a country's progress will be measured by how much of its GDP is spent on entertainment.
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      Feb 16 2011: Wow.... youtube game casting. That is hilarious.
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      Feb 17 2011: Gilmore & Pine in their 1998 HBR article and subsequent book (The Experience economy: work is theatre & every business a stage’) forecast the emergence of the 'experience' economy to follow the 'service' economy. If 'experiences' are by definition positive (why we would we want them if otherwise?) then they are entertaining and you are correct. Entertainment is a significant tranche of the UK economy and an area that the UK government is keen to develop further.
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        Feb 17 2011: damn, i'm a decade late. anyway, "experience based" is slightly better phrase, as it includes activities that are not on the receiving end. what about charity? what about volunteers? these are parts of the new stage too, but maybe we can't call them entertainment.
  • Feb 18 2011: Along the lines of Anonymous and Revolution 2.0, mentioned above, our understanding of complex, emergent systems, as well as our more and more pervasive communications networks, hint at new possibilities of governance and organization that we haven't seen before. The industrial revolution marked a starting point where now we humans could operate vastly beyond our own scale, on a planetary level. But, the traditional methods of organizing do not scale as well as our ability to grow our societies.

    From what I've seen, the traditional top-down organizational structures won't cut it for much longer. The question is, how can we use more bottom-up approaches that can scale, and the interconnectedness provided by the Web, to better organize ourselves in more effective ways? Our current methods are relatively ancient, and have not really evolved at the same rate as our science, technological, and societal development. We need a radical rethinking of governance, and emergent systems plus the Web are a good place to look.
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      Feb 18 2011: Hi, Alec,

      I agree with you that new possibilities are appearing for organiszation and governance. In my experience though they all have to deal with the fact that our current methods (as modern society as a whole) are ancient but so is our central nervous system (as individuals).

      Ultimately I think this is the reason that an open source model works better than a crowdsourcing one, at least when ordinary, practical matters are what needs to be arranged. Crowdsourcing works particularly well when there is an existing community which commits itself to a goal. Patton said it years ago: Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with the results". This form of leadership and organization, though, denpends very much on the existence and maintenance of a healthy community.

      Most people need leaders. This seems to me to be deeply imbedded in how people work. So I think the possibilities for new forms of leadership are possible, but I do not think that an absence of leaders is possible.
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        Feb 19 2011: I believe you have touched on the heart of the matter. Bravo. Diversity is hugely important, but crowds are mobs absent some structure (such as a strategic analytic model that makes it easy for those who wish to focus on poverty to focus BUT ensuring that everyone interested in poverty is connected--right now crowdsourcing is all over the lot. You might like my graphic on open source everything, with the open source tri-fecta being Open Spectrum including OpenBTS, Free/Open Source Software, and Open Source Intelligence.

        Graphic: Open Everything

        However, after twenty years focused on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) I have realized I have the cart before the horse, and that connecting the five billion poor with OpenBTS etc is Phase One. My short posting on the three phases toward a World Brain and Global Game can be found at this URL:

        Strategic Phasing Toward World Brain & Global Game
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          Feb 20 2011: I do like it, thank you. I am not at all sure I have grasped it, but I am slow in these matters so you have to give me a couple of days. That is not a small and humble ambition you have outlined there. :-)
      • Feb 21 2011: Good point. I definitely agree that humans are predisposed to a leader-based structure. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, and leaders provide a good focal point to rally around a particular set of issues. Also, they're good at setting direction of a group.

        What I envision is not so much a replacement of leaders, but rather a way to enhance the interaction between leaders and followers. I see these new systems of organizing the crowd as a way to enable better feedback from the bottom up. Politicians often ramble about "what the people want", but how do they really *know*? Instead of relying solely on infrequent elections, which rarely match up to the unpredictable pattern of events, how can we really tell the leaders what we want? (And also make the system work both ways, so people can know more about what the government is doing and more about the issues.)

        On Slashdot.org, for example, people are given temporary moderation powers over comments somewhat randomly, with merit weighed in. To prevent their abuse of power, ordinary people can "meta-moderate", and moderate the moderators. Poor moderators are less likely to be given the power again. This pattern of moderation and meta-moderation causes the best comments to emerge from the pool. There are many examples of this type of model implemented online. While they are fairly limited and focused in scope, I think they hints at what's possible with a highly distributed and scalable communication network.

        I guess what I'm envisioning is a more participatory system, where it's desirable to participate in the process. People need to feel like they have a say, instead of just one of the millions whose vote doesn't really count. I think the Web is a place to look for answers, since it is something radically new, and has demonstrated a capacity for this. (Also, open source is absolutely another place where models can come from, highly merit- and transparency-based. Sounds like good qualities for government.)
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    Feb 16 2011: Unrecognized or unevenly distributed? Pedagogy of freedom, for one. Chomsky nailed it, we've spent a half century since WWII destroying ourselves because of data pathologies and information asymmetries. The future is one of infinite wealth made possible by connecting all brains to all information in all languages all the time. Not exactly what CISCO, Oracle, and the other main players want to do. Smartest thing Steve Case ever said that stayed with me was that he was not competing with Compuserv for the 10% of the market they had, he was going after the other 90%. The future is the harnessing of the distributed intelligence of the five billion poor. C. K. Prahalad, among others, gets that, but modern predatory capitalism does not. The math is simple: one billion rich, one trillion a year. Five billion poor, four trillion a year. Duh.
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    Feb 16 2011: Robotics is definitely where computers were in the 70s. We are under 10 years away from seeing a profound revolution in home and work robotics. The advances in military robotics in the past ten years are pushing the DIY community and young robotics companies into places that were science fiction in the 90s.


    3-D printing and home fab is also an area that is going to start pushing boundries but not as fast as people think. Deposit based incremental manufacturing setups are pushing to the price point of laser printers in the 80s but the lack of final assembly is going to hold things back.

    I think the DIY fab industry will at first help small local shops or cottage industries that can do some light assembly and combination with "unfabable" components before it breaks into the home. There are still just too many components you can't fab yourself.
  • Feb 16 2011: I believe that the foundation technologies for seamless Augmented Reality are here, though a lot of it still needs stitching together. Wearable inertial motion capture interface technology is something that is here (I'd point you to myself, but self-promotion is frowned upon here) but not widely accessible where developed to the point of consumer-grade robustness. Optically see-through head-mounted display technology is another piece of that puzzle that exists but is not yet consumer-accessible.

    Another technology ripe for mass adoption is mobile remote health monitoring and diagnosis by telemetry.

    3D printing is also obviously a technology that is on the cusp of wide adoption and mass accessibility, as you pointed to with Makerbot.
    • Feb 20 2011: Augmented Reality seems to be a significant part of the future to me. It will allow us to turn all this data we have into real-time actionable information, not just information. The possibilities, I feel, are truly inspiring. I would love to learn more, if you have some good sources and/or the time.
  • Feb 16 2011: You've answered your own question, Mr. O'Reilly. The future that's [here but yet to propagate] is one where we all fully understand the dissemination and recombination of the "design patterns" floating around in the infinitely expanding repositories of knowledge we now have access to;patterns that effect everything from design to social interaction. This all comes in highly digestible, parse-able forms as well. Chris Anderson's talk where he mentions kids learning to dance from youtube is a prime example. If people would only be mindful of these recurring patterns, all would "see the future" in daily life.

    I think your foreword in Collective Intelligence is a prime example of how - in this day and age - people can be oblivious to major paradigm shifts happening not just under their noses, but right in front of them. Web 2.0 was about open data and collective intelligence that could be extracted from therein.The social aspect was key but only to that end. Besides the obvious "2.0 = social" assumptions, we then somehow ended up w/ that "2.0=gradient & bubble letters" thing. ::shakin my head::

    As free knowledge increases, so will our faculties to draw parallels and complex connections btwn simple ideas to create new, innovative ones. I think we'll see more of this quiet mindfulness in people as they learn to efficiently convert what is into what will be.

    Homebrew genetics is right around the corner? I see academic programs that hybridize bio and comp sci, and Bladerunner-style "genetic designer" style black markets where you can have anything designed for cheap. Hello real life zombies.

    We still study Da Vinci and his accomplishments today, but few realize they'd see hundreds of Da Vinci's if they looked at the worlds top Flash devs/designers

    Biomimicry has not even fully popped off. Today someone attempts to mimic the neurology of the brain in the cloud. Tomorrow a whole new approach to Object Oriented software will result

    Finally, Google homemade fusion reactor
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    Feb 15 2011: Beginning with Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, I think we're seeing the beginning of the final spread of democracy through online communities which cannot be held back.

    A movement of increasing global empathy and collaboration, leading to the weakening of international borders and something beyond democracy.

    My biggest question is what will happen to the recent trend towards individualism.
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      Feb 16 2011: I've been thinking about this. I have a sense that Americans may be rebounding from a hyper-individualism. I see it in the way younger folks organize their lives and seek tribes and communities, the high volunteerism and in the way things like facebook allow us to reknit friendship and family ties that may have gotten loser because of distance, the way skype for instance allows whole families to "get together", and in the way Rachel Botsman describes in her talk on collaborative consumption. The modernist human - the Ayn Randian solo hero a certainly still part of the American self concept but not so rigidly...
    • Feb 16 2011: I don't think that ubiquitous communications and instant media will eradicate individualism if any thing sites like You-tube etc, only serve to put on display the wonderful wide range of human diversity. With that it seems those that live in societies where expression is allowed, greater individuality is more readily accepted.

      You mention "Something beyond democracy." That is the thing I would like to know and understand. A government by and for the people that is a protector of freedom but also a safeguard of our security. So far for the most part democracy seems to be the only thing that does that.
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        Feb 17 2011: Democracy, however, isn't really keeping pace with social change. What we have in the West are democratic systems that were fit for purpose in the 19th century but now seem stagnant. Western democracies are increasingly looking like clubs for anti-intellectual elites. In the UK, for example, few if any of our leading politicians have had done anything of any consequence outside of the Westminster village. Democratic automatons with PPEs from Oxford. In the real world we have people with passion, opinions and perspectives that are largely ignored by democratic elites that claim to be anti-elitist. Therefore to address Tim's question I think that new social structures will have to emerge to re-embrace people who have better ideas about how to organise society. Democracy needs to embrace ideas - not just opinions. What passes for democracy has passed its sell-by date. It can be better.
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    Feb 25 2011: Democratization of internal business processes over and above the ultimate democratic external business process of consumer choice. I'm not sure how recognized the Semco experiment is but transitional technologies will steer us towards this style of management and ultimately undo corporatism's dark side.
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    Feb 25 2011: The 'Dumbing Down of America' was published about a generation ago. The children who were used as examples are now adults with children of their own. It gives me no pleasure to talk about the ignorance that I see around me. Many people can't pass a 5th grade test. They don't know the simplest facts. They can't tell you the first name of the British Monarch or find Spain on a map. TV host Jay Leno interviews 20-something people on the street and we snicker when they can't answer grade school questions. Many of my friends don't read anything, not even a newspaper. Some of my High School alumnus have not read a book since their school days. Illiteracy is endemic. I don't know how many people decide who to vote for, but then many don't vote at all. Democracy is slipping away from regular working Americans and I'm not sure if they know it. I'm not an elitist. But I can find Italy on a map; I can name the Secretary of State; I am abreast of current events. But the middle class is disappearing as jobs flow off-shore. The America I grew up in, is slipping away. Even the evening news (NBC Nightly News) has recently dumbed-down its broadcast with more fluff and less hard news. The leading broadcasters don't want to talk about this issue. If they do, they will sound like elitists. Who will cast the first stone? Which broadcaster will accuse l the American people of being ignoramuses? Tell me it ain't happening. Say it ain't so.
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    • Feb 20 2011: Are we being too paranoid or we are truly loosing our privacy?

      I was surprised that Disney World and SeaWorld are asking their visitors to scan their finger in order to be admitted (thou one has the option to use ID instead) and 99% of them comply without hesitation. Is this a dangerous trend?
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      Feb 20 2011: I recommend to you a series of books by Aries and Duby called "A History of Private Life". It's a long series, and not light reading; if you are only going to read one I personally like the one about the Middle Ages, but you can pick your poison. The series traces the changes in private lifestyle, behavior, beliefs and attitudes from the Roman Empire to the early 20th century; that is, its focus is on people who were not generals, heads of state, leaders of society. You know, everybody else.

      One of the takeaways from the series is that notions of what is private and what is public do change very greatly. I think you are right that such a change is happening right now; I am not at all sure that this change will destroy the fabric of America -- or anywhere else for that matter. It will certainly change it but I have faith that we will as usual make ourselves over again in response.

      I have not however had my 15 minutes of fame yet, despite having a Facebook account -- and a TED profile for that matter. Possibly it's an alphabetical list, in which case I expect they will get around to me.
      • Feb 22 2011: Thank you for your recommendation. Yes we will have to see where all this goes. Luckily we have organizations like EFF that ensure some degree of privacy and security on the Internet.
  • Feb 18 2011: I would say this about: www.THINQon.com

    Definitely the future, and I see TED is distributing it.
  • Feb 17 2011: What is of concern to me is that really intelligent people do not realize what the machines are doing to their own natural abilities and nature given gifts. Why are we so seduced by the antics of machines? Who invented them? We did of course from our own "machines"-- our own minds( unless like Tesla there was a UFO connection!). Why is technology so seductive when we have the most amazing abilities of our own, far superior and deeper than the machines can fathom? This is my puzzle. Anyone can find out so much about the universe, the nature of reality, the sources of everything by focusing within themselves and leaving the rather limited mind behind. This is a way bigger adventure, a more satisfying and profound direction that actually improves humanity and provides answers to those age-old questions like "Why am I here?"
    So watching Watson the computer win on "Jeopardy" was chilling. This is seducing one more generation into believing that this is the direction they need to go with their precious lives. Heaven forfend. What a waste of a human life!@
    So thank goodness there is a future with those who understand my message here, for these are the beings who will be around when the machines are rustied and shattered on the heap of history's detritus.
    • Feb 18 2011: You are taking it the wrong way. kids these days using computers is not a waste of human life, it allows for greater things to happen. Yes, they will probably miss out on a lot of really amazing things, but look at all the other things that people from the 40's and 50's couldn't even dream of that are now obsolete. Our mind is still infinitely better than a computer, but a computer can also do things that our mind can not. Using them together creates even more amazing things.

      Another way to put it.
      Knowledge is growing at such a pace, that doctors and engineers and scientists keep having to specialize more and more to keep up with the growing knowledge, and still have trouble. Machines are just another example of that happening. Kids no longer have the breadth of the experiences of living life that older people had growing up (I am only 30 and have to put myself in that category when it comes to computers), but the things they can already do are way beyond anything that I would even have dreamt of just a few years ago.

      I guess what I am trying to say is that it is progress, it is just the usually change from one generation to the next.
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      Feb 19 2011: The best short story ever for me in relation to this theme was Isaac Asimov's on how everyone took a test at 18 to see which of the machines they would serve, and the "stupid" disappeared. When one such "stupid" person woke up, he was on the moon, where all of the programmers were kept secretly to avoid busting the myth of the man-machine complex. Two of my book reviews summarize competing schools of thought:

      Review: The Singularity Is Near–When Humans Transcend Biology (Hardcover)

      Review: Radical Evolution–The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies — and What It Means to Be Human (Hardcover)

      For broader coverage, see;

      Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Technology & Web 2.0 to 4.0

      Worth a Look: Book Reviews on the War on Science
  • Feb 16 2011: Homeschoolers have seen that putting children in boxes and trying to teach them things they do not want to learn does not produce the most visionary, fertile, or robust minds.

    I foresee a generation, freed from the prison-mind of school, who will evolve rapidly and wildly and poetically in ways we can not imagine.
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      Feb 17 2011: But isn't the home a box, parents too? A small and unsocial one at that.....
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      Feb 17 2011: I have to agree with Amy, I believe that the education system as we know it is coming to an end. We are hanging on to this dinosaur for all it's worth. It simply does not work any more and the demand with soon outstrip the product it supplies. We have already reached saturation point in the system where students leaving schools with the absolute top scores cannot secure a place in University.
      • Feb 20 2011: "And end" sounds to ominous. How about the evolution of the education system? The idea of entirely removing children from schools sounds cruel to me. The live action social interaction with peers and instructors is so valuable. Augmenting that experience with advances in our ability to disseminate knowledge and I feel something truly powerful can come to life.

        Unfortunately, it seems in the US we may need to wait for the pains of state and local budget crisis to subside before investing in the evolution of our education system.
  • Feb 16 2011: I have learned that if I want a glimpse of the future now, a good strategy is to look at the cutting edge of where persons with disabilities are today. Because of my work in the disability field I was fortunate to be working with voice recognition, speech synthesis, human empowering robotic arms and home automation technologies as far back as the 80s. The first application of a transistor was a better hearing aid. Alexander Bell's work with the Deaf led to the development of the telephone. Dean Kamen's Segway drew directly from his work in developing his iBot, a wheelchair that could climb stairs (among other things).The list goes on and on and the march of history includes the little know history of innovation based on human empowerment.

    This initially surprising observation actually makes sense. We have always innovated tools and technologies that empowered us as individuals. As we age and/or become disabled we reach out to develop not just tools and technologies but also environments, both physical and social, that continue to empower us. From smart human-like prosthetics to brain/computer interfaces the cutting edge of the disability field, like that of the military and space exploration, continues to generate spin-off innovations of broader appeal than initially aimed for.
  • Feb 16 2011: How about a health-based economy? Where health is profitable, not sickness.
    Surgeon Genera: "61% of adults in the United States were overweight or obese (2000)" & 50% of disease can be traced to obesity, and is preventable.

    The problem is, there's too much profit in obesity, addiction, & illness. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurance companies, fast foods, manufactures & employees of sugar & fats, Wall Street investors in all these companies, etc. Any talk of health is seen as a "job killer". Thus we see Palin pushing sugar cookies and "govt takeover" dogma because health focus would actually destroy our economy. But the unavoidable reality is that when the mass of humans called Baby Boomers start getting sick, there are massive profits forecast, but it will wipe out the economy.

    When someone figures out how to make health profitable, create jobs, save taxes, INCREASE PROFITS, it will be a massive paradigm shift. Until someone looks at the macro economics of health vs. sickness, we'll be stuck in a world that profits from pushing addictions and servicing the ills of addicts. It will drastically change the future more than any tech gadget.
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    Feb 16 2011: There is a site in beta at the moment that, I think, is presenting a vision for the future of education that the world at large is yet to accept or embrace: www.sophia.org.

    The site allows users to create and contribute "packets" of education or tutorial content that gives its users a chance to "teach what you know and learn what you don't".
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    Feb 16 2011: A member of the Flattr community asked a similar question: "What will be the next Facebook"? I speculated a bit in the thread as you can read in full here:


    In short, I would guess the following:

    1. Flattr will to a large extent replace advertising such as Google Adwords.
    2. The educational system will change into something that looks significantly similar to the Khan Academy.

    This would happen within the next ten years. Speculating beyond the singularity, I humbly leave to our future robotic overlords ;).

    1. Two minute video describing Flattr: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zrMlEEWBgY
    2. Systems like the Khan Academy and its derivatives will change our educational system just as much as the invention of the book changed the ancient educational system: http://khanacademy.org
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      Feb 17 2011: Sorry, I don't get Flattr - why would I pay to consume something I currently get free because of advertising? Please explain....!
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        Feb 19 2011: As I'm interpreting your question, you're really asking "why would I pay for something I am already getting for free?".

        Do you tip your waiter at the restaurant? Do you donate to your favourite congressman? Do you donate to charities like the Red Cross?

        Even if you personally don't donate anything to any of the above, a significant percentage of the human population choose to donate. Flattr is a service that makes it significantly more effortless to make donations than doing so through for example Paypal.

        If a street performer, Alice, would have a computer terminal running a web browser with the Paypal web page preloaded, she would earn much less money from "music consumers" passing by, than would Bob, who performs the exact same song, but has chosen to offer a simple hat "consumers" could put a few coins in. Bob earns more because his donations system, the hat, is simpler and quicker to use.

        For whatever reasons people are already donating, Flattr makes it as easy to do in the online world, as it already is in the physical world. It actually even makes it a bit easier, because when you donate by throwing coins into a physical hat, you always have to decide how many coins you're going to throw. The Flattr system is (as its name suggests) a flat rate system. It divides your donations so you don't have to.

        I'm not advocating Flattr per se. Flattr /as a system/ is what I think will to a large extent replace advertising. It might very well turn out to be one of Flattr's competitors who'll become the next Google.

        Personally I donate to various things for several reasons. It may be because people who offer a service tend to be influenced in their decisions by people who give them money. I want to influence people, not only politicians, and do so by throwing money at them. If they stop doing what I want them to do, I simply stop donating to them. But the main reason I donate is because it makes me feel good. I'm buying that feeling for just 2 € / month ;).
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          Feb 19 2011: In support of your point, I am told that several endeavors offering chiropractic services for a fee were losing money, but when they started offering the service free, asking for donations based on out-going good feeling, they actually increased their revenue against their former billing schedule.
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    Feb 16 2011: How about a dialysis-free world? The paper showing how to prevent 90% of kidney dialysis was published in 2002. For a variety of reasons, mainly coming down to money and ego (what doesn't, after all?), the paper got no media attention. The details are at: http://tinyurl.com/healthcrime.
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    Feb 16 2011: I recently attended a talk given by the president, Michael Crow of our local state university, Arizona State University. The take away I want to share here is that ASU intends to split science along different lines than the present:
    - that about which we are ignorant, and need to learn, and
    - that about which we know enough to design new stuff.

    He proposes to call the second "design science".

    As an example, ASU intends, I'm told, to place healthcare into their design school.

    Whether that's the actual future it's certainly a bold move.
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    Feb 15 2011: "Mobile phones used to be the toys of yuppies, today they are the tools for development." Nokia

    ALL machines seem to be transitioning as the (.stl) design data for making the machines moves through the web like an .mp3. From 3D printing the favelas to homemade laser cut tractors e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD1EWGQDUTQ&feature=player_embedded

    What .stl are you going to download for free tommorow

    Manufacturing seems to be on the brink of a shift that will see the future much more distributed as the machines are no longer in the hands of the few.
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    Feb 15 2011: We are actually living amongst many different 'species' of computers.
    Whilst Gibson is renowned for his Cyberpunk narratives of virtuality and digital computers many researchers are developing alternative 'computational' platforms with different 'hardware' and 'software'. Toulouse mathematics professor Francoise Chatelin calls for a reconsideration of 'why' we compute arguing that we're only using one kind of mathematics to operate our computing machines, which leads to one genre of outcomes, neglecting others. One group exploring this novel field is Andy Adamatzky's Unconventional Computing group at the University of West England in Bath, others are inspired by the work of Adleman and use DNA itself to 'solve' problems. I am working with scientists (The Centre for Fundamental Living Technology & The Cronin Group) that are developing programmable chemistries which can manipulate matter in time and space. These developments change the nature of manufacturing itself - from top down, energy intensive processes to ones that incorporate self-assembly and are consequently more energy efficient. Naturally, like most scientific inventions many of these systems inhabit the laboratory bench rather than our home desk-tops so most of us won't even know they exist. However, work is in progress to develop these strange computers and develop applications that will soon breathe social 'life' into these novel forms of computing.
    I am looking forward to a time where I begin to choose the species of my computer, which would most appropriately be able to help me carry out my daily routines ranging from digital communications, to environmental remediation and even augmented biologies with new medical applications.
    'The best way to predict the future is to design it.' R Buckminster Fuller
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    Feb 15 2011: I love this William Gibson quote. Alex Steffen quoted that in his 2005 TEDTalk: http://www.ted.com/talks/alex_steffen_sees_a_sustainable_future.html

    I think one of the most important unnoticed trend is that hackerspaces are sprouting all over the world in recent years, and they are poised to become the model for future work spaces. And many innovations are stemming from these hackerspaces. They are what Seth Godin called a tribe, they see the future by inventing it by hand, collectively.
  • Feb 27 2011: 1. Machine Learning
    2. Mind-Machine interfaces

    Combine the two and you have a thought-controlled computer. The applications are astounding: for creation, ideation, writing, recording dreams, etc...
  • Feb 27 2011: I see future in TED, at least the future I hope for. People who care shape the future , which defenetely is here already for those who choose to see.
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    Feb 27 2011: The future of K12 education will lie within our ability to organize virtual & tangible resources and communication within a constructive framework. This scenario will take place locally while at the same time, connecting children and educators globally. The missing ingredient of autonomy will be added to the profession that embodies teaching and learning. Human capital will be tapped from a multi-sensory perspective. A democratic education will promote a democratic society. Technology will be the great equalizer that brings this all to fruition. These changes have been evolving on a small scale since John Dewey at the turn of the 20th century.
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    Feb 27 2011: Four thoughts: 1. In 10 years there should be 5 billion people on Earth with cellphones more powerful and connected than the iPhone4. For good and bad, there will be money flowing around and through these networks in ways we can only begin to imagine. 2. Science will be influenced by hundreds of millions of people crowd sourcing data, interacting with large data mashups and helping harden the social sciences. 3. Many designers will seek training in the information sciences so they can embrace the trillions of bits that are increasingly part of large scale design. 4. More youth may find that engineering is enormously useful in dealing with grand challenges facing mankind. To do good at large scale, many more kids may turn to STEM.
  • Feb 27 2011: Tim - great topic.
    some observations...
    a. most innovation is now in areas that have no legacy resources - so by definition, most of us in the US and wealthy countries won't see it.
    b. local local local...the future investment needs to be in the our local communities and the trades that support them.
    c. rent the future don't own it...sharing of assets will irreovcably increase in the future.