Continuous speech recognition through Siri. The multi-touch interface of the iPhone. Proliferation of e-readers. These are just three of the technology innovations futurist Nicholas Negroponte envisioned transforming our future lives – in 1984. With the visual aid of LaserDisc, the MIT Media Lab founder presented his theories at the first-ever TED conference in February of that year, leaving the audience in awe of the absurd prediction that we would use computers in daily life.
Nearly 30 years later, should we be spooked by the eerie accuracy with which Negroponte made his projections or surprised that it took so long for such prophecies to be realized?
Negroponte never doubted his bold foresight, having “no question whatsoever they would happen.” And he’s just as certain of what’s coming next. In a recent NPR interview, he said, “I spend time trying to think about what I cannot imagine. And whatever it is will be at the interface of silicon and biology… We’re going to see things happen that are astonishing in terms of working at very, very small scales, going down to the nanotechnology world…it’s going to be extraordinary and the changes are going to be huge.”
A crusader, Negroponte has dedicated his life and career to making his oft counter-intuitive visions reality – from improving education through technology, and questioning the prevailing condemnation of genetically modified foods and nuclear power, to advocating for a more peaceful planet through global access to the “digital world.”
Will Negroponte’s predictions of today turn into the reality of tomorrow? We have no reason to doubt it.