TED Conversations

James Patten


This conversation is closed.

If you could give computers one magical power, what would it be and why?

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow James Patten

James is an inventor who is exploring new ways that physical objects can represent and control digital information.

This conversation will open at November 14 at 1:00PM EST.


Closing Statement from James Patten

Thank you to everyone for sharing some great ideas! One theme that I was really struck by was the extent to which people wanted their computers to have human qualities. Also there were some great suggestions about new types of input and output, ways of processing information and many others. I think that within the next several decades many of the things mentioned here will some to pass (some much sooner than that). Ultimately what we think of as a "computer" will change drastically in the next several years, as things adapt to better suit human abilities. Thank you everyone for participating!

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  • Nov 14 2011: I think the power to pick up commands directly from the brain. So I would "think" something, and the computer does it. Now that would be very cool...
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      Nov 14 2011: That's an interesting thought and there is a lot of work going on in this area now, particularly in the domain of helping people control replacement limbs, and that sort of thing. One question that comes to mind is: out of all the things I might be thinking at any one moment, how would the computer know which ones it should do, and which ones it should not do?
      • Nov 14 2011: We'd have to all practice meditation to master our concentration and be "empty" until we want to have a commanding thought. Idealistic maybe, but we are experiencing a trend in that direction in the western world.
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          Nov 14 2011: hmm... yes you're right that meditation is gaining a lot of traction. I've always thought of my interaction with the computer as the antithesis of meditation (except perhaps while programming) but perhaps they could come together in the way you mention.
      • Nov 14 2011: i think that can be done by gathering information from experts & experienced psychiatrists.They can actually advise what should be done at that particular situation.
      • Nov 14 2011: I think you'd have to have a "trigger" to let the computer know to activate the thought. rolling your eyes could take on a whole new meaning..
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      Nov 14 2011: I'm a big supporter for this man-machine interface (hence, I was gonna make the same comment ;) )

      So much time is being wasted by opening windows, moving them around, find the right line to edit (I'm a programmer), etc. etc..

      I'm pretty sure we will achieve this level of interfacing.. just watch the Ghost in the Shell movies/series.. in my opinion, this is exactly the reality that we are headed for.

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