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> Reading, Writing May Become Obsolete, in future, experts say
Futuretalk
Posted: May 29 2007, 12:09 PM


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Reading, writing may become obsolete in future, experts say
By Futuretalk

When was the last time you saw fast-food restaurant employees’ actually key prices into the register? Today, clerks behind the counter press buttons with pictures of cups, burgers, or bags of fries. They never need to read or remember cost of items.

Futurist William Crossman, author of Vivo [Voice-In/Voice-Out]: The Coming Age of Talking Computers, believes that tomorrow’s mobile and virtual reality devices, using visual displays like those in fast-food restaurants, will render reading, writing, and text obsolete in the not-to-distant future.

Before Homo sapiens ever existed, ancient proto-humans accessed information by speaking and listening; and by smelling, tasting and touching. They relied on memory to store information they heard. Speaking and listening was civilization’s preferred method of communication for millions of years.

Then about 10,000 years ago an explosion of information emerged with the onset of the agricultural revolution and memory overload quickly followed. Human memories were no longer efficient and reliable enough to store and share the huge volume of new ideas. To overcome this problem, our forbearers developed a remarkable technology that has lasted for thousands of years – written language.

Written language, with pictographs and alphabets, enabled us to record ideas and information on paper and other materials. It served to extend our human memory, and today, ranks along with food, air and water as one of the most important elements in our lives.

However, scientists believe that today’s reading and writing technologies will not serve us well in tomorrow’s high-tech world. Oxford University Professor Lady Greenfield suggests traditional learning systems; lectures, exams, and books; even reading and writing, will become obsolete in a society filled with voice-interactive machines and an Internet that could one day store all the world’s information.

Tomorrow’s students will be more comfortable voicing commands to mobile devices and other displays to ask questions, retrieve information, and play music and videos. Searching through books will be considered a waste of time. Forces driving this transformation include the following:

1. Growing numbers of young people strongly prefer speech over other communication systems.
2. Billions of non-literate citizens around the world with poor reading, writing and language skills want access to information, but most become frustrated in attempts to get it.
3. Interactive voice systems expected by 2012 will replace most keyboards and remote controls.

Germany’s Infineon Technologies has recently developed a series of chips powerful enough to enable mobile devices to process huge data loads required for future education and entertainment needs.

Traditional input methods of touch screen, keypad, and pen will give in to speech recognition with body movement awareness (recognizing hand gestures and facial expressions through cameras mounted in the device). Using this enhanced tool as its hub, tomorrow’s “e-Education” systems will connect students to an intelligent assistant via the Internet, which will monitor their progress and contact live advisors when necessary.

Advanced interactive visual display systems will empower everyone on Earth to understand information regardless of their ability to read or write. Positive futurists believe that this breakthrough could, by as early as mid-century or before, enable more nations to come together technologically and linguistically and participate in what promises to become an amazing “magical future.”

This article will appear in various print media and blogs; comments welcome. See other published work by Futuretalk at http://www.positivefuturist.com and click on the “published work” tab.
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Nick
Posted: May 29 2007, 05:32 PM


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THIS SEEMS TO PROMOTE ILLITERACY.

WHAT ABOUT INUMERACY?

MITCH RAEMSCH -- LIGHT FELL --


This post has been edited by Nick on May 29 2007, 05:32 PM
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Futuretalk
Posted: May 29 2007, 05:59 PM


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QUOTE (Nick @ May 29 2007, 05:32 PM)
THIS SEEMS TO PROMOTE ILLITERACY.

WHAT ABOUT INUMERACY?

MITCH RAEMSCH -- LIGHT FELL --

Helping the billions of 3rd world citizens that do not read or write adequately access information can hardly be described as promoting illiteracy.

And innumeracy has already affected most of civilization, as computers can already crunch numbers far better than humans. This is a good thing because it frees us to use our brains for more important tasks.
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Nick
Posted: May 29 2007, 08:32 PM


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THEY DON'T DESERVE TECHNOLOGY IF THEY CAN'T READ. tongue.gif

MITCH RAEMSCH -- LIGHT FELL --
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Quatermass
Posted: May 29 2007, 09:12 PM


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I think you'll find that many people in the third world CAN read and write. It is just that they do not often have the opportunity or need to do so. As to electronics, we have written records going back thousands of years but few original electronic records going back even ten years because computers cannot be trusted. There are all sorts of infections, computer problems and so on which make electronic writing a non-permanent medium. DVD's are certainly non-permanent with even new ones not playing sometimes and they are so easily rendered useless. Even the best hard drive will eventually fragment from normal use.


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Futuretalk
Posted: May 29 2007, 09:26 PM


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I guess some of us see advancing technologies in a different light.
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N O M
Posted: May 30 2007, 01:02 AM


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QUOTE (Futuretalk @ May 30 2007, 12:09 AM)
When was the last time you saw fast-food restaurant employees’ actually key prices into the register? Today, clerks behind the counter press buttons with pictures of cups, burgers, or bags of fries. They never need to read or remember cost of items.

This sort of thing is just another form of literacy. Replacing words with symbols is how writing was developed. It's just happening again.

A good example is the universal controls on an ipod:
User posted image
No writing, but it is clear how it works. Quite a well thought out interface.


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"A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself." - A. A. Milne
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xtrmn8r
Posted: May 30 2007, 01:16 AM


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I think there are some serious problems with the explosion of all the computer devices in use today. They have curtailed the need for analytical thought. You no longer have to know multiplication tables or even need to understand how to arrive at an answer.

Text messaging has replaced the need to spell and books can be listened to, which replaces the need for imagination!

People are losing the ability think and allowing machines to be used as a crutch!



This post has been edited by xtrmn8r on May 30 2007, 01:28 AM


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photojack
Posted: May 30 2007, 04:44 AM


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I agree with many points brought up here. I learned multiplication and division the tried and true way. Some younger people are totally clueless if their battery goes dead in their calculator. ohmy.gif Purposely abbreviating for speed in "txt msgng" is no substitute for learning to spell properly, while attaining appreciation for word origins and etymologies. biggrin.gif There will always be a place for books as long as man occupies this planet. I welcome the advances in technology. Having grown up before the Internet, I can fully appreciate the enhanced access to information. My mother was about 13 when they first got electricity to her city. I remember vinyl records and black and white TV. rolleyes.gif Things will change, but hopefully on a foundation of solidity that books and writing will continue to provide! cool.gif

An excellent post to promote your site. I will be checking out futuretalk!

This post has been edited by photojack on May 30 2007, 04:46 AM


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Futuretalk
Posted: May 30 2007, 12:51 PM


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William Crossman, mentioned in the article, recently expanded his views on how, by 2050 he claims, advanced interactive visual display systems will make the written word obsolete, re-creating a global oral culture.

Crossman is very optimistic that writing can and will be replaced by newer technologies that do the same job more effectively, cost-efficiently, and universally.

He thinks talking computers as well as speech, graphics, and video streaming over the Internet will replace text-driven computers and written texts (no more keyboards!) even the functionally non-literate and the disabled will have access to all info without learning to read and write simply by speaking, looking, listening, or signing.

Voice in-Voice out will also make instantaneous language translation possible, so “foreign” language barriers will melt away.

Crossman also thinks humans are genetically/evolutionarily hardwired to access info by speaking, listening, and using our other senses. We start doing this at age 1 or 2, well before we start writing.

The pro-Voice in-Voice out orientation of the young will also change education. The school literacy “crisis” could be reversed through the adoption of this new type of curriculum. The “three Rs” will be replaced by the “four Cs” – critical thinking, creativity, computer skills, and calculators.

Our great-great-grandchildren won’t know how to read and it won’t matter. They will be as skillfully “literate” in info tech of their generation as we are in ours.
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Futuretalk
Posted: May 30 2007, 02:06 PM


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Another view on the future of reading and writing:

Many forward-thinkers believe that tomorrow’s technologies will provide humans with huge intelligence boosts which could eliminate the drudgery of recognizing facts in an article or story by “reading” each paragraph, sentence, or word.

By mid-2030’s or so, Singularity enthusiasts believe we will be endowed with non-biological neurons that process information millions of times faster and more accurate than today’s slow brains can.

Future humans will download a complete “book” in digital format and instantly “know” every detail and receive all appropriate emotional stimuli the author intended.

With our “super-brains”, we could multi-task activities such as enjoying a blockbuster movie while carrying on a normal conversation with a friend.

Granted, it is difficult to imagine such a science-fiction type future unfolding, but when one considers the exponential speed of advancing technologies, this forward future seems possible.

Comments welcome.
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Magic Man
Posted: May 30 2007, 02:33 PM


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Trouble is, many "forward thinkers" tend to think a little too far and tend to overlook practicality in a lot of cases - giving futuristic alternatives just for the sake of it.

We will still be reading and writing and pressing keys in the near future at least. And I for one don't want to use a PC by speech alone... "left, left, run, dive, fire"...
Yep, right. Give me my WASD keys anyday...

The "universal controls" on an iPod were around a long time before the iPod...
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gmilam
Posted: May 30 2007, 02:44 PM


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Someone's going to need to be able to read the manual to fix these devices.

Oh and - I have photo negatives that are over 50 years old that I can still print from. I have discs that are less than 5 years old that nothing will read...

I don't think analog technology is going away anytime soon.


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Futuretalk
Posted: May 30 2007, 03:33 PM


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In a post-Singularity future, humans will not consider themselves “using” PCs in any way. Computers will be completely ubiquitous.

With minds connected directly and wirelessly to most of the world’s information and entertainment data stored on a terabyte-speed Internet, our thoughts will provide us with answers, solutions, and joys, creating a life as different from today’s crude existence as we are to our cave-men ancestors.

Although advances like these may sound mind-boggling, many of the technologies that promise this miracle world are already underway today.

In the latter half of this century, humanity could be focusing on ways to terraform our planet, making it safer and more durable; and getting serious about developing space colonies in artificial habitats and on moon, Mars, and other locations in our solar system.

By as early as late 22nd century, more humans could live in space than on Earth.

Will this “magical future” happen? Positive futurists believe it will.

Comments welcome.
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gmilam
Posted: May 30 2007, 04:28 PM


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You have more faith in the altruistic nature of software companies (and human beings in general) than I do. We've squandered the potential of Television for American Idol and reality TV. I don't see us doing much better with the information super highway.


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