Information Technology in 2050 (SMITHSONIAN)

Question: What will information technology look like in 2050?

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger: I can think of a dystopian and utopian world in 2050.  And a dystopian world we have given up on individual choice and individual reflection.  We have let large stakeholders, whether they were governments or large corporations to make the decisions for us, we have become informational couch potatoes absorbing and consuming information that’s been customized and custom tailored for us without questioning.  We have become the modern equivalent of Orwell’s 1984 in which we believe and accept without questioning.  That’s my dystopian world. 

My utopian world of 2050 is really one in which we have found ways to empower individuals, empower groups and societies, especially marginalized groups through information technologies to energize, motivate, organize, to involve themselves in our society.  We have found ways to help our society manage itself and its challenges from the mental challenges like the environmental crisis, the global warming and so forth better.  Information technology can do a great deal to help us there.  And I hope we will use that opportunity to harness information technology towards that end.  Less a consumerized couch potato information consuming society and more an active involved and engaged society.

Recorded April 22, 2010
\r\nInterviewed by Austin Allen

Will we become a couch-potato society of information consumers, or will we be empowered, motivated and active?

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

Videos
  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less