Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab, appeared on stage in Vancouver at TED’s 30th anniversary event last night and made a number of predictions about what technology will do over the next 30 years. Via Ars Technica, here’s his most startling one:
In 30 years, Negroponte said, we’re going to be able to literally ingest information. Once information is in your bloodstream, some kind of mechanism could deposit the information in the brain. You could take a pill and learn English or the works of Shakespeare. He said little else on the subject, but Negroponte assured the audience that the idea is not as ridiculous as it seems.
Negroponte is basically hypothesizing a pill you can swallow to instantly learn French or computer programming or anything else, something akin to the moment in “The Matrix” when Neo “learns kung fu” by interfacing his brain with a computer.
Negroponte’s prediction has more basis in reality than you likely expect — scientists can already watch memory-forming molecules come together in the brain as a physical representation of new knowledge. Negroponte is merely talking about doing it without the human being consciously involved. Many smart people have made reasonable links between quantum physics and theories of consciousness that suggest that weird quantum principles like entanglement can help explain how we learn and remember things (see our previous reporting on transhumanism for much more on this).
Negroponte’s hypothetical “knowledge pills” would only need to be an expression of applied quantum physics.