Making things that we can touch

The demo video that goes with this interview is the usual sort of awkward/amazing combo that I’ve come to expect from the MIT Media Lab’s works in progress. As for the interview, I think I just enjoyed that the people inventing sci-fi type tools aren’t always inspired by sci-fi itself. Finally, at a more meta-level, I wonder if something like the TED lectures would be possible without the streak of overstating the importance of everything—the portentous, too-loud theme music at the start of the videos nearly keeps me from watching, but many of my fellow viewers must love it.

We’ve been using “Minority Report” as shorthand to explain the device, or the heads-up screen in “Robocop.” But was this device influenced by science fiction

I’m not a very big fan of science fiction. I think that I’m a very big fan of living in the physical world. I’m good with digital technology, but I start to miss the physical world. I miss riding my bike, talking to friends. Technology now separates us from the physical world more and more. Even social networking sites are taking us away from the physical world.

At the lab, we like making things that we can touch, we can feel, we can take with us wherever we want to go, that we know how to interact with. The digital world has power because it has dynamic information, but it’s important that we stay human instead of being another machine sitting in front of a machine.

Whatever science fiction movies we watch now, we can make the technology real in two days. What we can do is not important. What we should do is more important.

Originally published at

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