TED Conversations

James Patten


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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: Compassion. My parents and their generation are literally scared of computers ; computers expect and do things they don't understand. If computers/applications could adapt (not just the language it uses for prompts and alerts) to the user's skill and fear levels, offering multiple approaches, allowing mistakes with kind and constructive advice, and gradually teach users how to use them, this would allow technology to enrich their lives as much it does our generation and the rest.
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      Nov 14 2011: Hi Yoo, it seems like every generation has its own unique set of needs and expectations when it comes to computer technology. I agree they are definitely lacking in the realm of emotional intelligence. We can already see some basic efforts in this direction, such as giving users simpler ways to do things when they are having trouble. Also, there is some research in the lab about detecting frustration and responding to that. People are writing software to recognize facial expressions, and there are sensors that one can wear that measure physiological signs of stress/frustration. So, people are taking baby steps but there is a long way to go!

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