TED Conversations

Tim O'Reilly

CEO, O'Reilly Media

TEDCRED 100+

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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 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.

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