It’s Going to Be a Colorful Century

Question: What makes you\r\noptimistic about the century ahead?

\r\n\r\n

David Gelernter:\r\nWe’re looking at—in one word maybe I should say, graphics. \r\n Not only computer graphics or\r\nanimation, but the enormously increased scope for pictures; for showing\r\npictures, for seeing pictures, for seeing things.  Seeing\r\n is a source of wisdom and pleasure in a lot of\r\nways.  Mankind really has no\r\nvocabulary to discuss color because if you look at art history, until \r\ntwo\r\ngenerations ago, nobody knew what paintings looked like, they could be\r\nreproduced in black and white going back to the 19th century, before \r\nthen they\r\ncouldn’t be reproduced in any way at all, but until, say the 1930’s, \r\n‘40’s,\r\n‘50’s in the 20th century, there was no way to, you could say Titian is a\r\n great\r\ncolorist, or Velazquez has extraordinary subtle browns, or the reason \r\nthe 13th\r\ncentury glass at Chartres is unique is because of the blue.  The special blue.  But you could\r\n see it.  You had to travel to France or to you\r\nknow, Venice to see—wherever.  And\r\nnot only that, once you were there, unless you stayed, you’re not going \r\nto stay\r\nplanted in front of a picture in a museum and nor are you going to camp \r\nout in\r\na cathedral.  But computers have\r\nnot only made printing—has not only made displaying on their screens, \r\nbut they\r\nmade printing on paper—color printing—vastly better and inexpensive.

\r\n\r\n

The possibility that we have now of seeing what \r\nmankind has\r\ndone, the art that has been done, the cities that have been built, the\r\nlandscapes that have drawn on people is a tremendously exciting—and to \r\nsee each\r\nother, because ultimately that is what people want to see most of all is\r\n other\r\npeople.  That’s exciting.  It\r\n opens up a new world that mankind\r\nhas longed for ever since he’s seen... "Colors are good, and I want to \r\nmake my world\r\ncolorful, and I want to see my fellow human beings and I want to build \r\nthings\r\nand I want the horizons to be further than what I can see from my front \r\ndoor."

Recorded on April 1, 2010.

What excites the legendary computer scientist about the future? In a word: graphics.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
Keep reading Show less

Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants can last over a year, new study finds

We must rethink the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental health.

Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new review found that withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants and antipsychotics can last for over a year.
  • Side effects from SSRIs, SNRIs, and antipsychotics last longer than benzodiazepines like Valium or Prozac.
  • The global antidepressant market is expected to reach $28.6 billion this year.
Keep reading Show less

Is there a limit to optimism when it comes to climate change?

Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?

David McNew/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

'We're doomed': a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change.

Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

What should schools teach? Now is the moment to ask.

The future of learning will be different, and now is the time to lay the groundwork.

Future of Learning
  • The coronavirus pandemic has left many at an interesting crossroads in terms of mapping out the future of their respective fields and industries. For schools, that may mean a total shift not only in how educators teach, but what they teach.
  • One important strategy moving forward, thought leader Caroline Hill says, is to push back against the idea that getting ahead is more important than getting along. "The opportunity that education has in this moment to really push students and think about what is the right way to live, how do we do it and how do we do it in a way that doesn't hurt or rob the dignity of other people?"
  • Hill also argues that now is the time for bigger swings and for removing the barriers that limit education. The online space is boundary free and provides educators with new opportunities to connect with students around the world.

Keep reading Show less