Future Technologies

27 June 2010, Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Just realized that I don’t go to talks and debates very often! But the theme of tonight’s debate has motivated me to whip out my phone and blog while on my travels home.

A very exciting panel tonight – Stephen Fry, Bill Thompson (technology critic/ommentator), Sir Tim Berners-Lee (founder of the world wide web), Dame Wendy Hall and a biologist Dr Jim Haselhoff from Cambridge University.

Some interesting topics were covered tonight though I wish they had covered less topics and elaborated more on each. They started with the most important discoveries in the past 350 years (Royal Society’s 350th anniversary)… electricity, information processing, the desire to communicate, biological technology and human’s desire to advance. Berners-Lee wanted technology to create and enable a democratic environment. Apparently 10million UK people have never been online and an additional 5 million have only used the Internet once. These figures are quite surprising. Interesting chat about whether or not the www will become outdated (answer is – it already is). Bill Thompson’s wish is that technology will become invisible; Hall’s was for teleportation but if it were over the web that error404 doesn’t happen; Berners-Lee was for a fully open web platform and Fry’s was – nothing – that technology surely enhances storytelling, but no technology will ever exceed the ability of paper and speech in passing on stories and man’s ability to project one’s imagination upon another.

There was a live Twitter feed behind the speakers which was a very fitting idea. Unfortunately it wasn’t really used that greatly – they only read two or three comments from it, but it was a neat idea and there were some interesting comments. Fry stated that Twitter surely was the biggest technological discovery in the past five years – I wonder if that’s because he tops the Twitter followers list? 😛 Who would’ve thought something like the Twitter model would ever kickoff?

Good food for thought. But ironically, despite the topic of the debate, they all agreed that.. you’d only be foolish to try and predict the technological future.

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