reflections on the technium

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

Brown Bag at the Movies – Selected technical topics(10)

For this installment of Brown Bag at the Movies we will be viewing (abstract below):

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CEP COMMENT: A timely look at the philosophy driving America’s last major private auto manufacturer.

Bill Ford: A future beyond traffic gridlock
<http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_ford_a_future_beyond_traffic_gridlock.html>
16:49
ABSTRACT

Bill Ford is a car guy — his great-grandfather was Henry Ford, and he grew up inside the massive Ford Motor Co. So when he worries about cars’ impact on the environment, and about our growing global gridlock problem, it’s worth a listen. His vision for the future of mobility includes “smart roads,” even smarter public transport and going green like never before.

BIO

William Clay Ford Jr. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Clay_Ford,_Jr.> is the executive chair of the Ford Motor Company, founded by his great-grandfather, Henry Ford, in Detroit. This massive company found great success selling cars to the world. Now, Ford is looking toward a future that’s not simply about selling more and more cars. Ford looks to a future where cars are greener and cleaner, move more efficiently on better, smarter road systems — and sometimes are replaced by mass transit and other forms of mobility.

Ford joined Ford Motor Company in 1979 as a product planning analyst. He subsequently held a variety of positions in manufacturing, sales, marketing, product development and finance. During the breakthrough 1982 Ford-United Auto Workers labor talks, which launched the employee involvement movement that revolutionized the industry, he served on the company’s National Bargaining Team.

Mr. Ford joined the Board of Directors in 1988 and has been its chairman since January 1999. He serves as chairman of the board’s Finance Committee and as a member of the Sustainability Committee. He also served as chief executive officer of the company from October 2001 to September 2006, when he was named executive chairman.

As CEO, Mr. Ford improved quality, lowered costs and delivered exciting new products. During his time in that position he took the company from a $5.5 billion loss in 2001 to three straight years of profitability. Through the years, his vision for the company has remained unchanged.

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CEP COMMENT:

Will Wright makes toys that make worlds
<http://www.ted.com/talks/will_wright_makes_toys_that_make_worlds.html>
16:40
ABSTRACT

In a friendly, high-speed presentation, Will Wright demos his newest game, Spore, which promises to dazzle users even more than his previous masterpieces.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spore_(2008_video_game)>

BIO

Will Wright <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Wright_(game_designer)> a technical virtuoso with boundless imagination, Will Wright has created a style of computer gaming unlike any that came before, emphasizing learning more than losing, invention more than sport. With his hit game SimCity, he spurred players to make predictions, take risks, and sometimes fail miserably, as they built their own virtual urban worlds. With his follow-up hit, The Sims, he encouraged the same creativity toward building a household, all the while preserving the addictive fun of ordinary video games. His next game, Spore, which he previewed at TED2007, evolves an entire universe from a single-celled creature.

Wright’s genius is for presenting vital abstract principles — like evolution, differences of scale, and environmental dynamics — through a highly personalized, humorous kind of play. Users invest themselves passionately in characters they create (with Wright’s mind-boggling CG tools), and then watch them encounter fundamentals of life and nature. If it all sounds suspiciously educational, well, it just might be. Wright has created not just an irresistible form of entertainment, but an ingenious, original pedagogy.

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CEP COMMENT:

Leonard Susskind: My friend Richard Feynman
<http://www.ted.com/talks/leonard_susskind_my_friend_richard_feynman.html>
14:42
ABSTRACT

What’s it like to be pals with a genius? Onstage at TEDxCaltech, physicist Leonard Susskind spins a few stories about his friendship with the legendary Richard Feynman, discussing his unconventional approach to problems both serious and … less so.

BIO

Leonard Susskind <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Susskind> is the Felix Bloch Professor of Physics at Stanford University. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics, and quantum cosmology. He received the Pregel Award from the New York Academy of Science (1975), and the J. J. Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society (1998) “for his pioneering contributions to hadronic string models, lattice gauge theories, quantum chromodynamics, and dynamical symmetry breaking.” He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, since 2009, has been serving as Director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics.

He is a recent recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Science and Technology for The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics.

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CEP COMMENT: Way cool!

David Merrill demos Siftables
<http://www.ted.com/talks/david_merrill_demos_siftables_the_smart_blocks.html>
7:12
ABSTRACT

MIT grad student David Merrill demos Siftables <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siftable> — cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends, too. Is this the next thing in hands-on learning?

BIO

David Merrill <http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~dmerrill/> is a grad student in the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT’s Media Lab. He and his fellow students in this group work on new technologies that give us more and better abilities to do things we want to do. His main interest now is the Siftables project, the subject of his TEDTalk, on which he works with Jeevan Kalanithi. In another field of inquiry, Merrill is looking at ways to access digital information in the wider world, when we are away from a traditional computer.

A musician himself, Merril also has a deep interest in new musical interfaces. His Adaptive Music Controller is an instrument that learns its player (rather than the player learning the instrument). And working musicians should check out his AudioPint, a portable case that consolidates instruments, effects and audio processors into a gig-safe rugged housing.

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Written by Chuck Petras

July 3, 2011 at 18:55

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