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: @James, looking at your bio you said you are interested in "...[how] computers can adapt to serve human needs". The thing that I wish is not magical but little futuristic; it'd be magical if it is granted right now. I propose "Personal Assistant", definitely analytics are used to analyze human behaviors and pattern. Similar technology can be adapted to serve every individuals needs, computers can be our very own personal assistant. They can analyze our work life and suggest if there is any news or article that we should be aware of, if we are looking for a job they can continuously keep searching - instead of us going to websites every week, they can suggest us to do our laundry, if some of your friend likes something particular and if something of that sort is newly released in the market they can advise us to gift to them on their b'day or send them a friendly fb message to inform them.. let your imagination go wild.. basically one single platform that can do everything..
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      Nov 14 2011: Hi Roshan, that's an interesting thought. It seems like one can think of computer technology as a series of tools, just like a pencil or a hammer is a tool, or one can think of computers more like companions or collaborators. Though this discussion is just getting started it strikes me that many commenters are thinking in terms of human traits, roles and responsibilities that they would like computers to have. That's an interesting perspective and I wonder if interest in that way of thinking will continue to grow.
    • Nov 14 2011: The problem with this thought is that it requires each person to completely give away his personal life to a computer. And since what you're describing would fit much better if it was an online services, they'd be giving their online lives to a company.

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