Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kresge Auditorium -- the site of MIT's Emerging Technology Conference -- on a clear, crisp, cool morning just before the September 2005 edition of the event.
Breakfast on day one at MIT's Emerging Technologies Conference. Picture from left to right: Intel senior fellow Jeff McVeigh, General Motors Emerging Technologies general director Dr. Ramasamy (Sam) Uthurusamy, and General Motors CTO of IT Fred Killeen.
MIT Technology Review editor-in-chief and publisher Jason Pontin chatting with IT.com's Mark Cordover just prior to Nicholas Negroponte's opening keynote at MIT's Emerging Setember 2005 Technologies Conference.
Aging expert drinking orange juice: World reknown biogerontology researcher Aubrey De Grey, who is working on a cure for human aging, is drinking orange juice just before the opening of MIT's September 2005 Emerging Technology conference. When asked if OJ is part of the cure, DeGrey said, "it helps."
The No-Intel zone (for now): A bank of computers for public use at MIT's September 2005 Emerging Technologies conference. Somewhere down the road, these will probably be Intel-based systems.
MIT Media Labs director Nicholas Negroponte [at left] chatting with the event's second speaker -- Palm Computing and later Handspring founder Jeff Hawkins -- just before Negroponte took the stage to talk about his $100 laptop project. Hawkins' new venture is called Numenta. According to Numenta's home page, "Numenta is developing a new type of computer memory system modeled after the human neocortex. The applications of this technology are broad and can be applied to solve problems in computer vision, artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning. The Numenta technology, called Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM), is based on a theory of the neocortex described in Jeff Hawkins' book entitled On Intelligence (with co-author Sandra Blakeslee)."
MIT Media Labs director Nicholas Negroponte presenting his $100 laptop project to attendees at MIT's September 2005 Emerging Technologies Conference. By 2007, the project -- known as OLPC or One Laptop Per Child -- plans to equip the world's children with rugged self-powered notebooks at a rate of 150 million per year (three times the world's current notebook production rate).
The masters of ceremonies for MIT's September 2005 Emerging Technologies Conference. Pictured is MIT Technology Review editor Robert Buderi [left] and editor-in-chief/publisher Jason Pontin moments before they took the stage to introduce Nicholas Negroponte.
Numenta founder (formerly of Palm and Handspring) Jeff Hawkins takes the stage at MIT's September 2005 Emerging Technologies Conference to discuss the idea of hierarchical temporal memory (HTM). Hawkins has written extensively about the idea in his book On Intelligence.
One of the first prototypes of the $100 laptop, the result of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project currently underway at the MIT Media Labs under the direction of Media Lab director Nicholas Negroponte. Negroponte considers the project to be the most important one of his life.
MIT Media Labs $100 laptop prototype for its One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project. According to MIT Media Labs director Nicholas Negroponte, because of the environments in which these notebooks must survive (eg: the jungles of Cambodia), these machines will be made of rubber, and will hermetically seal when closed. The AC power cord doubles as the shoulder strap. The ruggedized laptop can be self-powered, too -- its wind-up crank, designers hope, will deliver 10 minutes of power for every one minute of cranking.
MIT Media Labs director Nicholas Negroponte was very careful to advise the audience that a United Nations version of the laptop does not yet exist. But, he said that discussions are underway, and it's certainly easy to imagine the existence of such a "branded" version.
Children in a Cambodian village with their laptops. These are not $100 laptops, but the image is typical of the sort of children that will benefit from them. In 1999, MIT Media Labs director Nicholas Negroponte and his wife built some schools in Cambodia. The villages where these schools were located had no sewer, no water, no telephones, not even roads. The average income was $47 per year. To recharge the notebooks, they brought in generators. A WiFi network with a satellite uplink to the Internet was installed and they told kids to take computers home to play with them. The morning after the first night that the kids brought the laptops home, it became clear not one of the notebooks had been opened. The parents were apparently worried the notebooks would get broken and they'd be held accountable for the breakage. On the next night, after the parents had been reassured that the notebooks could not be broken (at least not easily) and that the children wouldn't be held responsible even if something did break, the parents loved them. Not because of what the computer was capable of, but because the computers were the brightest light sources in the Cambodian villagers' one-room houses.
Nolan Bushnell, the inventor of the video game that may have started it all -- pong -- speaking at MIT's Emerging Technologies Conference.
Segway inventor Dean Kamen talking about his next invention at MIT's Emerging Technologies Conference. According to Kamen, billions of dollars are being poured into curing diseases that afflict 20 percent of the world's ill. But the other 80 percent are succumbing to bad, undrinkable (unpotable) water. So, he's building a dirt cheap box that solves the problem and that can be distributed all over the world. Said Kamen about how to make it work: "Just add water." According to Kamen's co-workers, the device even works with urine. "If it has water in it, we can get drinking water from it," one of them said.
Dean Kamen's instruction sheet for how to use his invention for purifying water: In case you can't read it, step 1 is "Just add any water." Step 2 is "See step 1." Said Kamen, the goal was to devise a box that makes commercially available purified water look like toxic waste.
Del.icio.us founder Joshua Schachter gives a demonstration of his public bookmarking service and how its underlying folksonomy not only helps people find more documents that may be of interest to them, but also connects people with common interests. The presentation was given during the panel discussion on Social Networking at MIT's September 2005 Emerging Technologies Conference. Other panelists in the session were IT.com founder Mark Cordover, dodgeball.com founder Dennis Crowley, and Nokia's user experience manager Chris Heathcote. If you haven't seen dodgeball.com, it's worth a look. Nokia seemed out of place at first. But Heathcote reminded the audience that the company's tagline is "Connecting People."