(Image courtesy Pixabay)

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

Learning French soon be no more complicated than taking a pill.

That’s according to a tech expert who is credited with inventing the touchscreen and who led the Technology Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for many years.

Gulf News reported Nicholas Negroponte was speaking to a council of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the deputy commander of the United Arab Emirates armed forces.

“We are looking for ways to interact directly with the neurons, reaching the brain from within and not through the eyes, which have become outdated instruments,” Negroponte said.

“More astonishingly, communicating with the brain from the inside will also emerge, not just from implants, but by using the blood stream to deliver information to our neurons,” he continued. “This is why I have publicly invoked the provocative example of learning French by taking a pill,” he said.

Speaking about biotech and digital applications, he said that over the next decade, there will be more direct brain interactions.

Negroponte said brain scans for medical purposes are already common, increasingly low-cost and soon to be in real-time.

They will become a common means of computer interface, he said, describing it as “computer mind reading.”

Negroponte, 75, was criticized by media when he invented the touchscreen in the 1970s. The same thing happened when in the 1990s he forecast buying books directly from the internet.

“At MIT, we do things that are not yet on the market and that seem ridiculous,” he said. “Today, everyone talks about AI and machine learning. In our laboratories, we have been studying these phenomena since the early ’50s.”

He said the new development is biotech, especially biomechatronics, which focus on the interaction between biological organs and electromechanical devices and systems.

Such processes should be able to “reproduce and improve the physical abilities of living organisms. Hence, a pill to learn French,” the report said.

“In the future, Negroponte says, the differences between bits, the smallest unit of data in a computer, and atoms, the smallest particle of a chemical element, will disappear for the simple reason that we are making things smaller and smaller,” Gulf News said.

Negroponte said: “When I grew up, the man-made world (we called it that) and the artificial world were so separate that there were whole professions like architecture, devoted to making graceful and respectful interfaces between the two. Today, by contrast, we can engineer and re-engineer nature, we can design animals and we are approaching a time when all human disease can be eliminated.

“In this sense, the dominant information technologies of tomorrow will be synthetic biology, genomics and what I will call computational life sciences. Those are the new information industries, benefiting from — among other things — what has come to be known as big data. It will happen not by one discipline advancing, but several, from both the overlaps and the white spaces among them.”

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