Inspired by Vicky over at Single Mother Ahoy! I decided to list my top five favourite Ted Talks. I absolutely love Ted, the whole idea is amazing. People come together in venues all around the world to give inspirational talks on all manner of subjects. It was hard to narrow it down to just five, but here goes.
5. Hackschooling Makes Me Happy – Logan LaPlante. Learn from a teenager how unschooling works and why his home education is focused on what really matters.
4. The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer. A wonderful and inspirational talk from one of the most successful crowdfunders ever. Palmer describes her experiences of interacting with her fans.
3. Why we should give everyone a basic income – Rutger Bergman. I’ve been an advocate of universal basic income for a few years now and whenever I get into a discussion online about it I direct people to this video. It’s a simple explanation of the idea and why it would work.
2. The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain. Our society tends to value the traits of extroverts far above those of us introverts. Cain explains why we shouldn’t try to change introverts and how we can contribute to society.
And finally, my absolute favourite Ted talk of all time…
1. Changing Education Paradigms – Sir Ken Robinson. All of Ken Robinson’s Ted talks are brilliant, but this one, with the RSA animation, is my favourite. It’s my go-to video whenever I have a wobble about my children’s education.
I hope you enjoy these talks! Let me know your favourites in the comments below. I’m always keen to broaden my horizons so would love suggestions of what to watch next!
I’m a self confessed nerd. I love sci-fi, super heroes, zombies, and technology. Gimme all da stuffs. I’m currently lamenting the premature demise of my Blu-Ray player and researching a replacement. It has to have all the right toys. So I was thinking about technology and the way that popular sci-fi, such as Star Trek, has predicted, or could it be that it has inspired the development of new technologies.
So I decided to compile a list of some of the tech that Star Trek has depicted in the past that now exists.
It’s THE classic example. When Star Trek first aired in 1966 the sliding doors of the Enterprise were manned by stage hands on set because automatic sliding doors didn’t exist yet. But the doors in Star Trek seem to also have some sort of telepathic link with people, as they never open when someone walks past in the corridor outside the room, or close on two people having a conversation across the threshold. A Japanese company has developed a more intelligent sliding door that responds the the size of party approaching, and even the speed at which someone approaches them! I look forward to seeing these intelligent sliding doors appearing in shopping centres worldwide!
Today we take for granted our iPads, Kindle Fires and so on. But they are a relatively new technology. Apple’s first serious attempt at a tablet computer was the Apple Newton in 1993. But the first touch screen tablets that we would recognise today only hit the market in 2010. Star Trek have been using data pads since The Next Generation began in 1987. The beautiful thing about this example is that we have already far surpassed the technology portrayed in Trek. TNG was set in the year 2364 and onwards (mostly, they time travelled a bit!), yet their data pads seemed to be quite limited in function, with separate pads required for different projects. It makes me wonder what the future of this technology might look like. Where will we really be in 2364? Will information be directly downloaded into a microchip inserted in our brains? Eek!
I got so excited when I got my first “flippy phone” in about 2004! FINALLY I held in my hands some tech reminiscent of something from Star Trek. It was a glorious day for me. It was the Samsung S300, and I still think it’s the most beautiful phone I’ve ever owned. Sigh.
Anyway, where was I?
Star Trek led the way with mobile communication devices and it took us over thirty years to really catch up. But now that we have we’re zooming ahead. We’re even perfectly used to the combined technology of comms devices and data pads, with smart phones being an every day item that millions of people already own. We also have Bluetooth. Remember Uhura’s earpiece? Not quite as widespread an application of the technology, but it exists.
We haven’t quite got to the com badges seen in TNG onwards, but we can’t be far off them. Our phones can be used to track our location, a common use of this kit seen in Trek. It’s also at the whim of the environment, as in Trek. “The away team’s lost on the planet, Captain, a severe weather system is interfering with the comms channel.” Yep, sounds familiar!
Another related technology is the good old video call. We all remember the crew of the Original Series seeing aliens and alien worlds on their enormous view screen. Throughout the evolution of the franchise, this technology has remained a staple means of communication. Today we think nothing of Skyping a friend on the other side of the planet, or conference calls that incorporate video communication with absent colleagues.
Probably not one that most people would think of, but way back in the Original Series the crew used disks that resembled 3.5 inch floppy disks. It’s already the case that an entire generation of young computer users will have no idea what I just said! My parents ran a shareware business from home when I was growing up, and I spent many an hour sat in front of (now very dated) desk top computers copying disks for them.
The Next Gen had their isolinear chips that were closer to USB sticks or SD cards. The Enterprise seemed to rely on a huge number of these devices for the smooth running of its systems. (Can I get an enraged “Wesley!”) Though it’s unclear exactly what they do, but they seem to contain information or software. Given that we can buy SD cards today that can hold 512GB of data, it’s easy to imagine similar storage devices in the future that would power vast star ships.
Yes, seriously. 3D printing is the beginning of replicator technology, as seen in TNG onwards. Go to a hole in the wall and order your favourite drink, and it materialises in front of you. It’s a technology in its infancy, we’re a far cry from being able to feed all the world’s hungry with this technology, but give it time. In Grey’s Anatomy they’ve shown 3D printing being used to create working body parts for transplants, and I honestly believe that’s where the development of this tech will flourish first.
6. Voice Activated Interactive Artificial Intelligence!!!
This is the one that struck me the other day and really prompted me to write this blog. Voice activation isn’t especially new, but it’s finally entering the mass market for everyday application. We now have hardware that we can talk to, and that talks back! And it’s widely commercially available in the form of the latest smart phones. Owners of iPhones can ask Siri to complete tasks for them and report back its findings, Microsoft phones now have the gorgeous Cortana, named after the AI in flagship Xbox game, Halo.
Our computers are getting there too, with Google now supporting voice input for searches. But Star Trek saw it coming decades ago. The fabulous Majel Barrett voiced Star Fleet computers from the beginning until her death in 2008. The crews of later Enterprise models, Voyager and DS9 had the opportunity to ask the computer to perform complex tasks, such as programming the holodeck and analysing data. It won’t be long before we can do this in real life. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to discover some lab geeks somewhere in the world already doing just that.
Other sci-fi creations have predicted technological advancements too, some more advanced than others. Self-driving cars, as seen in Minority Report will very soon be commonplace, they can park themselves these days and we’ve had cruise control for ages. Getting us from A to B is the next logical step. I give the boffins a decade to get us there. Jules Verne first saw us launching ourselves into space and exploring the depths in submarines, long before we could do either. And I just discovered that a vehicle closely resembling the hoverbikes from Endor in Star Wars could be available to buy from as early as 2016!!!
So, my wish list for emerging technologies based on Star Trek includes: holodecks (of course!), transporters (duh), and interplanetary travel (obviously!).
I love to hear from you, so leave a comment if there’s a sci-fi technology you’d love to see realised, or your favourite from the many, many more out there already that I didn’t have time to cover here!
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