Nicholas Negroponte on Biotechnology and Future Learning

The founder of MIT's Media Lab imagines a future in which information and knowledge can be delivered to the brain through the bloodstream.

When Nicholas Negroponte spoke at the inaugural TED event in 1984, he made five predictions (though he calls them extrapolations) that more or less came true. Negroponte was working off 15 years of research and forecasted what he could reasonably expect to happen in the field of digital technology. Because of the accuracy of his forecast, Negroponte is often asked to make additional predictions about what we can expect in the next 30 years. He explains his prediction (this time, not an extrapolation) in today's featured Big Think interview:


"The key to my prediction is the best way to interact with the brain is from the inside, from the bloodstream. Because if you inject tiny robots into the bloodstream they can get very close to all the cells and nerves and things in your brain, really close. So if you want to input information or read information, you do it through the bloodstream."

Negroponte describes biotechnology as the next big innovation wave, similar to how digital was 30 years ago and how plastics were a generation before. His prediction about ingesting information through the bloodstream is steeped in the theory that you can marry biology and silicon in order to alter the brain from the inside. Technologies such as these are the future, he says, even if that future is still decades away.

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
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Why Elon Musk doesn't like Jeff Bezos's space colonies

Elon Musk took issue with recent ideas for space exploration from Jeff Bezos.

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Technology & Innovation
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10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

Culture & Religion
  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
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  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
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Big Think Edge
  • Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.