The Next Big Thing Review
The Bushnell recently hosted a forum to discuss “cutting edge technology and innovations that will change our lives” titled “The Next Big Thing”. Fareed Zakaria, global thinker, journalist, and author and Joi Ito, technology visionary and director of the MIT media lab consisted of the panelists. In terms of the progression of the role of technology in the future, we can envision technology being used to store information which would otherwise be rotely memorized by human professionals. For example, a physician can differ to technology for statistics and DSM criteria for illnesses. This would allow the physician more time to spend with the patient to do tasks which cannot be different to technology, and require human interaction, such as diagnostics. An important point was brought up about the uniqueness and complexity of diagnostics, which can only be reserved to the human mind. In order to teach students, a medical school professor at Yale University ensured his students learned to interpret artwork, as the skills apply to diagnostics as well. By passing off statistics, data, and concrete information off to technology, we are free to learn the skills which only our highly functioning brains can accomplish in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, the current education system, which rewards students on their ability to follow directions and demonstrate their knowledge based on standardized exams. Ito brought up an interesting point about his ideals for education focusing on the “four P’s”: peers, passion, projects, and play. This encourages creativity, self-motivation, problem based learning (projects), and peer-peer learning. The advantage of peer to peer learning is that it allows students to play the role of the teacher in one scenario and the student in another scenario, which reinforces learning. This type of education will create the future generations of workers, which will take advantage of the use of technology, to which concrete details would be attributed. Indeed, this gives merit to the Scientific American article titled, “Why Neuroscience Needs Hackers” which would require creative thinking which cannot yet be taken over by artificial intelligence.
Zakaria and Ito also had this to say about the future: true poverty, such as living on less than a dollar a day, will no longer exist (though it was always exist relative to other economic classes). In terms of populating Mars, Kakaria responded with the point that if we have the means to populate Mars, then we surely have the means to address global warming here on our home plant. However, the major obstacle in our way is affordably desalinating water but this cannot be done using fossil fuels, as it would consume too much energy. Therefore, an alternative source of energy must be used, one which can generate a lot of energy cheaply. This is where the ingenuity which will drive our development comes in to play.
Many various points were brought up such as the vagus nerve hypothesis, the meaning of humanity and its role in technology, and even genetic engineering. As expected of a forum, the discussion took us to many different places across the world, across time, and across disciplines. These forums will expose you to many new and different ideas and will cause you to question the direction of our future, and in that respect, it is worth it to attend these events. I would caution that this event does require your focus; if you are planning on attending a similar event, be sure that you have gotten a good night’s sleep, eaten and used the restroom before settling in to an interesting evening.