The interesting thing about technology, says TED Talks curator Chris Anderson, is that it's a mixture of surprises and predictability. We often know what technological developments are on the horizon, but as to how they will change the world? That's anyone's guess. So start experimenting! That's Anderson's advice to businesses and organizations, because when we take chances, we can actually shape how billions of people around the world will use new products created by technological innovation.
A recent Big Think survey confirms Anderson's advice. In cooperation with Singularity University, we surveyed over 1,200 business and thought leaders on "exponential leadership" — leadership for an age of exponential disruption and change. These leaders identified experimentation and "failing fast" as the number-one way to create disruptive innovation.
Ideas are powerful things, says Anderson, and having an ambitious vision can make the difference between business-as-usual and creating something that could literally improve the lives of billions of people. Moore's Law, for example, is not an immutable physical law. What makes it true is having the visionary goal of doubling computer power every year and then, crucially, backing it up with investment. Just 10 years ago, the cost of sharing a video-recorded lecture was about two dollars and it meant saving the lecture on a DVD and mailing it through the post. But when Anderson and TED Talks noticed the price of bandwidth begin to drop, they experimented with uploading the organization's lectures online. The talks went viral, taking TED from being an annual lecture in California to an on-demand international Web sensation. So what's next for TED? Anderson explains what the technological landscape has in store:
"There's a roadmap out there right now that ... the internet is spreading to every corner of the planet and will be low-cost, high-bandwidth everywhere. Companies like Facebook and Google are investing billions of dollars to make sure that this is so and that's a complete game changer. That means for the first time in history not 1 billion, but 7 billion people-plus will be interconnected. What does that mean? Who knows, but it's possible to dream about that future because the technological landscape is set out and it's clear."
On the TED Talks stage in California, Anderson expounds on his vision of a completely connected world. High-bandwidth video, he says, will drive global innovation and rival Gutenberg's printing press as the technological innovation that fundamentally changes how ideas are shared and exchanged. Video transmits essential human qualities — body language, intonation, facial expressions, audience response — that words on a page simply cannot rival. For strong evolutionary reasons, Anderson explains, we prefer video to text because it more closely approximates human interaction.