Looking Back Forward

Where We Are
Last week we looked at some of the ways humans have evolved, and how we might continue to evolve via technological enhancement. Juan Enriquez proposed that we will move from Homo sapiens to Homo evolutis – taking deliberate control of our own evolution using technology.

• Considering the emerging technologies in medicine and robotics, along with the potential additional influence of epigenetics (changes to the physical structure of DNA caused by environment, food, and activity) – how likely is it that Homo sapiens will split into two or more species in the near future?

• Will we all have the same chance to evolve, or will some get left behind? Do we have a responsibility to humanity (in its current Homo Sapien form) to even the playing field?

• Ian Glodin asked, “How do we manage this technological change?” How do we ensure that it creates a more inclusive technology, a technology which means that not only as we grow older, that we can also grow wiser, and that we’re able to support the populations of the future?”

We have to develop a new way of managing the planet, collectively, through collective wisdom. -Ian Goldin

• If we take a step back and look at the past, how far we’ve come and some of the changes that have taken place, perhaps we can better see the future…

Nicholas Negroponte: is a tech visionary and founder of the MIT Media Lab which helped drive the multimedia revolution and now houses more than 500 researchers and staff. He has pushed the edge of the information revolution as an inventor, thinker and investor.

In 1992, Negroponte became involved in the creation of Wired Magazine as the first investor. From 1993 to 1998, he contributed a monthly column to the magazine, and later expanded on some of those ideas ideas in his book, Being Digital. The book was a bestseller, translated into 20 languages, and made famous his forecasts on how the interactive world, the entertainment world and the information world would eventually merge.

Negroponte is also the driving force behind One Laptop per Child, building computers for children in the developing world. He has spoken at TED 14 times in thirty years. His first talk was given at the first TED conference in 1984, in which he predicted future technologies. FULL BIO

What was (is) One One Laptop Per Child?
An initiative that seeks to empower the world’s poorest children through education. http://one.laptop.org/ “Laptops are both a window and a tool: a window out to the world and a tool with which to think. They are a wonderful way for all children to learn learning through independent interaction and exploration.”

What is Negroponte’s new initiative?
To launch a stationary satellite that will bring Internet access to the corners of the globe that are not near cities, giving education to the “last billion”. Big Think

Thoughts & Questions for Discussion
• Should internet access today really be considered a “human right”?
• Do we have a responsibility to connect the last billion? Why or why not?
• How does this relate to our previous discussions of populations, health, and evolution?
• Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens (2015) “Social cooperation is our key for survivial and repoduction.” Nuanced communication gave Sapiens the ability to cooperate in large numbers.
• What do you think of Negroponte’s prediction at the end?
• How do feel about acquisition of knowledge without the usual brain work it takes to get there?

Final Thoughts

“You can’t think about thinking unless you think about thinking about something.” -Seymour Papert

Something to think about:
The generations represented in our class, and in all the classes here at ILR, have lived through the greatest technological advancements and achievements in the human race, which also occurred at an unprecedented rate. No other generation before or after can say that. Whose “collective wisdom” then, can give us the greatest advantages for the future?

Keep the conversation going! Please leave additional thoughts and comments below.

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