MARCH 13, 2006
Business Week Special Report: Young Entrepreneurs of Tech
How the Masses Will Innovate
interviewed by Stacy Perman
Interviewer: "Moving forward, what are the major areas in technology where academic institutions and venture capitalists will be channeling resources and investments?"
Moss: "The societal business model. Companies are now paying attention to some of the major socioeconomic problems in the First and the Third World. We have a billion people using computers in the First World. It is still limited to wealthier societies.
In the next 20 years we will see the adoption (increase) to 5 billion to 6 billion. And the kinds of killer apps that are important in that world are not those necessarily centered on communication and commerce.
I think as we experience the problem of aging populations we will need to supply different ways to educate, and traditional schools are not the way to go. We will see technology dramatically change the way kids learn. We will see health care without hospitals. That is where the action will be. Just another tweak to a telephone or a handheld device will happen, but it will not be a major source of growth. That is becoming a commodity."
Interviwer: "What new directions will you pursue as head of the Media Lab?"
Moss: "The Media Lab has done a lot to shape the world of technology. We will continue to develop and find brand-new areas. One is between humans and computers, and how the computer relates to people and expresses itself in ways it never has before. For instance, (this means) giving computers common sense and reasoning like people, not just crunching numbers, but having an emotional intelligence as well.
We will (help) to break barriers between a much broader adoption of technology and solutions to the problems facing society today.
We talk about how to make life more pleasant and fulfilling for the aging. We have drugs now that can increase people's lives until their 90s and 100. This is an untapped resource â€“- the incredible wisdom and knowledge that resides in seniors' brains. We will develop ways to extend their capabilities with technology.
We will improve mental and cognitive abilities. It is esoteric, but think about the problem of aging. People tend to weaken physically as they age, but if we can expand their minds to contribute to society, it will greatly enhance the experience of aging."
Interviewer: "You talk about education and the bottom-up effect that millions more people will play in societal advances. How do you see this unfolding?"
Moss: "We will undergo another revolution when we give 100 million kids a smart cell phone or a low-cost laptop, and bootstrap the way they learn outside of school. We think of games as a way to kill time, but in the future I think it will be a major vehicle for learning.
Creative expression (is another area). No longer will just a few write or create music. We will see 100 million people creating the content and art shared among them. Easy-to-use programs allow kids to compose everything form ringtones to full-fledged operas. It will change the meaning of creative art in our society.
We are already seeing early signs of it in blogs. The source of creative content is coming from the world. That revolution will go well outside of the written word to all forms of visual and performing arts. "