Backbytes: Parlez-vous hongroise, m'seur professor?

By Backbytes
15 Jul 2014 View Comments
pills44

Apparently, in the future, instead of spending hours at school perfecting the art of asking the way to the town hall or the local brothel in some Godforsaken language like French or Hungarian, we'll all just pop a pill to magically do so instead - you won't even need to slip a babel fish in your ear before being teleported to Turkmenistan or wherever it is you've booked your hols in 2044.

As the prediction was made by MIT's Nicholas Negroponte and not the University of Reading's own nutty Professor Kevin 'the cyborg' Warwick, it perhaps deserves closer attention.

Further reading

"We have been doing a lot of consuming of information through our eyes, and that may be a very inefficient channel. So my prediction is that we are going to ingest information," says Negroponte in one of his latest TED talks.

"You're going to swallow a pill and know English. You're going to swallow a pill and know Shakespeare. And the way to do it is through the bloodstream. So once it's in your bloodstream, it basically goes through it and gets into the brain, and when it knows that it's in the brain in the different pieces, it deposits it in the right places," says Negroponte.

Of course, that begs the question of exactly what knowledge will be ingested - will it be AJP Taylor's interpretation of the origins of the Second World War or Hugh Trevor-Roper's? - and how much critical judgement the pill-popping students will be able to bring to bear on their instant knowledge.

Indeed, will Monsanto start "producing" biology lessons and, more seriously, will these English pills Negroponte talks about be proper English or, God forbid, American English?

@backbytes

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