An Internet Without Screens Might Look Like This | Tom Uglow | TED Talks

An Internet Without Screens Might Look Like This | Tom Uglow | TED Talks

I’d like to start by asking you all
to go to your happy place, please. Yes, your happy place, I know you’ve got one even if it’s fake. (Laughter) OK, so, comfortable? Good. Now I’d like to you to mentally answer
the following questions. Is there any strip lighting
in your happy place? Any plastic tables? Polyester flooring? Mobile phones? No? I think we all know that our happy place is meant to be
somewhere natural, outdoors — on a beach, fireside. We’ll be reading or eating or knitting. And we’re surrounded
by natural light and organic elements. Natural things make us happy. And happiness is a great motivator;
we strive for happiness. Perhaps that’s why
we’re always redesigning everything, in the hopes that our solutions
might feel more natural. So let’s start there — with the idea that good design
should feel natural. Your phone is not very natural. And you probably think
you’re addicted to your phone, but you’re really not. We’re not addicted to devices, we’re addicted to the information
that flows through them. I wonder how long you would be
happy in your happy place without any information
from the outside world. I’m interested in how we access
that information, how we experience it. We’re moving from a time
of static information, held in books and libraries and bus stops, through a period of digital information, towards a period of fluid information, where your children will expect to be able
to access anything, anywhere at any time, from quantum physics
to medieval viticulture, from gender theory to tomorrow’s weather, just like switching on a lightbulb — Imagine that. Humans also like simple tools. Your phone is not a very simple tool. A fork is a simple tool. (Laughter) And we don’t like them made of plastic, in the same way I don’t really like
my phone very much — it’s not how I want
to experience information. I think there are better solutions
than a world mediated by screens. I don’t hate screens, but I don’t feel — and I don’t think any of us feel that good about how much time
we spend slouched over them. Fortunately, the big tech companies seem to agree. They’re actually heavily invested
in touch and speech and gesture, and also in senses — things that can turn
dumb objects, like cups, and imbue them with the magic
of the Internet, potentially turning this digital cloud into something we might touch and move. The parents in crisis over screen time need physical digital toys
teaching their kids to read, as well as family-safe app stores. And I think, actually,
that’s already really happening. Reality is richer than screens. For example, I love books. For me they are time machines —
atoms and molecules bound in space, from the moment of their creation
to the moment of my experience. But frankly, the content’s identical on my phone. So what makes this
a richer experience than a screen? I mean, scientifically. We need screens, of course. I’m going to show film,
I need the enormous screen. But there’s more than you can do
with these magic boxes. Your phone is not
the Internet’s door bitch. (Laughter) We can build things —
physical things, using physics and pixels, that can integrate the Internet
into the world around us. And I’m going to show you
a few examples of those. A while ago, I got to work
with a design agency, Berg, on an exploration of what the Internet
without screens might actually look like. And they showed us a range ways that light can work with simple senses
and physical objects to really bring the Internet to life,
to make it tangible. Like this wonderfully mechanical
YouTube player. And this was an inspiration to me. Next I worked with
the Japanese agency, AQ, on a research project into mental health. We wanted to create an object that could capture the subjective data
around mood swings that’s so essential to diagnosis. This object captures your touch, so you might press it
very hard if you’re angry, or stroke it if you’re calm. It’s like a digital emoji stick. And then you might revisit
those moments later, and add context to them online. Most of all, we wanted to create
an intimate, beautiful thing that could live in your pocket and be loved. The binoculars are actually
a birthday present for the Sydney Opera House’s
40th anniversary. Our friends at Tellart in Boston
brought over a pair of street binoculars, the kind you might find
on the Empire State Building, and they fitted them with 360-degree views of other iconic world heritage sights — (Laughter) using Street View. And then we stuck them under the steps. So, they became this very physical,
simple reappropriation, or like a portal to these other icons. So you might see Versailles
or Shackleton’s Hut. Basically, it’s virtual
reality circa 1955. (Laughter) In our office we use
hacky sacks to exchange URLs. This is incredibly simple,
it’s like your Opal card. You basically put a website
on the little chip in here, and then you do this and … bosh! — the website appears on your phone. It’s about 10 cents. Treehugger is a project
that we’re working on with Grumpy Sailor and Finch,
here in Sydney. And I’m very excited
about what might happen when you pull the phones apart
and you put the bits into trees, and that my children
might have an opportunity to visit an enchanted forest
guided by a magic wand, where they could talk to digital fairies
and ask them questions, and be asked questions in return. As you can see, we’re at the cardboard stage
with this one. (Laughter) But I’m very excited by the possibility of getting kids
back outside without screens, but with all the powerful magic
of the Internet at their fingertips. And we hope to have something like this
working by the end of the year. So let’s recap. Humans like natural solutions. Humans love information. Humans need simple tools. These principles should underpin
how we design for the future, not just for the Internet. You may feel uncomfortable about the age
of information that we’re moving into. You may feel challenged,
rather than simply excited. Guess what? Me too. It’s a really extraordinary period
of human history. We are the people
that actually build our world, there are no artificial intelligences… yet. (Laughter) It’s us — designers, architects,
artists, engineers. And if we challenge ourselves, I think that actually
we can have a happy place filled with the information we love that feels as natural and as simple
as switching on lightbulb. And although it may seem inevitable, that what the public wants
is watches and websites and widgets, maybe we could give a bit of thought
to cork and light and hacky sacks. Thank you very much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “An Internet Without Screens Might Look Like This | Tom Uglow | TED Talks

  1. My happy place is always at least partially indoors or manmade, so I find the notion that all humans naturally abhor technology a bit of a stretch. That said, I'd love to have physical means of messing with the internet and these gadgets all seem cool.

  2. Reading nor knitting is remotely natural. Natural things kill us; what was the last time your own feces made you happy? Intuitive does not mean natural nor simple. "Reality is richer than screens" from the man who loves reading?
    What a freaking hack…

  3. internet without screens? Yet I see him talking about screens all throughout the video, implementing them in most of the designs he talks about. He begins asking us (the audience) to go to our happy place. telling us that it was most likely a natural place without technologies etc then just jams technology down our throat. Very counter intuitive talk in my opinion. I think if he took some time and maybe thought about his presentation (maybe change how he presented his innovations) this could have been a much better talk. I normally dont pick apart Ted Talks but this one was not easy to watch when all I see are reasons to pick it to pieces

  4. internet without screens: using a hacky-sack to transport a string of text from one screen to another
    because messengers and emails are too screen-reliant


  5. I disagree with his premise. Does anyone who's was born in the last 50 years really feel uncomfortable in front of a TV? Does anyone born in the last 80 years feel uncomfortable by a radio? You could say the same of every modern convenience, cars, refrigerators, AC. It's not nature that we love but what's familiar. I do like the beanbag but it's completely superfluous. Both devices already need to be capable of sharing the url via the internet, so the bean bag is completely unnecessary unless you need a physical connection for some reason so it's little more than a thumb drive. I think the meat of his discussion is that technology needs to be intuitive and integrated in our everyday life. His "richer than screens" gimmick just shows an outmoded mindset and inflexibility that comes with age. Even infants pick up how to use a smart phone after all.

  6. romantic but not forward. nobody wants 300 devices for tasks one machine could do. the idea of information parks for children is lovely though…

  7. i am already afraid of my phone. smart phones were supposed to be liberating, but then governments and private companies started using my phone to spy on me. what used to be a tool to help me with directions became a tool to track everywhere i went. they told me "why should you mind? what do you have to fear if you have nothing to hide?" they said this while hiding, and they only said it after they tried to imprison the man who told me. no, i don't want more technology, no i don't want a stick that knows my mood, or a light that can read my mind. i don't want a computer that can predict my thoughts, i don't want something that can be programmed by someone else as a means to curtail my liberty, to strip me of my autonomy, to take away any power i once had over my own decisions over my own life. i could do without those things.

    do you know why i like books more than smart phones? books don't spy on me. figure out a way to make technology and computers in a manner that cannot be taken over by a bad actor and turned against me. that is what i want, something that i can depend on not to be used by someone else to control my decisions.

  8. You don't "build" the world. You design it.

    People like me who just do whatever work is available, we "build and shape" the world

  9. Okay cool, but that seems awfully inconvenient. Why would you want to carry around a little SACK when you can do the same thing it does with a few touches on your screen?

  10. Interesting. However, these toys are the very definition of Gimmick. Also, people don't necessarily hate the screens but if they hate something about them, they probably hate the physical limitations it brings (space, viewing angle, viewing distance etc).

    Augmented Reality is the thing of the future, not these kinds of toys. So please, just stop.

  11. I find it extremely ironic that he used a screen to show me what an Internet without screens would look like… on the Internet!

  12. I foresee a time when data (visuals, sounds, even smells!) will be projected into thin air, whenever, wherever and however you want it.

  13. I don't want to sound like a Neo-Luddite, but at 5:15 when he started talking about the device that monitors your mood throughout the day, and even assigns different levels of stress 'hues', the only thing I could think of was Psycho-Pass

  14. Everything including our phone and flourescent lighting is composed of atoms and molecules that we got from the universe, and works in accordance to the laws of nature. Everything in this universe is natural, end of. Please stop calling synthetic or man-made things unnatural, you wouldn't call a beehive or a termite nest un-natural because it was manipulated by a living thing so please stop applying this stupid logic to man made things.

  15. "It's us?" No mention scientists or doctors or anyone else who makes great contribution to the human race… I'm an artist but implying that science and technologists are doing it wrong and it's the artist and creative's job to fix it seems quite daft…

  16. Have a listen to Eddie Huang talking to Joe Rogan about his TED talk: "Eddie Huang's TED Experience (from Joe Rogan Experience #330)".

  17. I don't really get it. These seem like creative art projects. Projects like these don't bring the power of the internet out of the screen. This talk doesn't show at all what the internet without screens would be like.

  18. Very interesting, the possibility to have all information we want without eyes and body glued to a screen instead interacting with what surround us. The idea of the bits in the trees and the magic wand so fantastic, not only for kids but I can see it also a way for students to learn, they walk and listen, discover . Love it!.

  19. this guy would be believable if he did this 50 yes ago, but now he just seems out of touch with what is going on.

  20. Boy, hes going to have a REAL big problem when humans start pioneering and colonizing space and there isn't any "nature" for him to look at…

  21. Bird talk like humans Skip AD2x
    Night Event at Disneyland very interesting Fairy Flying

  22. My happy place isn't even close to what he's saying is what a happy place is "meant" to be. There's absolutely nothing natural about my happy place and yet I can spend hours in there and when I have trouble sleeping I just go there and almost immediately fall asleep and next thing I know it's morning .He did a good job generalising.

    But there is some partial truth to his words, watching and hearing rain makes me happy and I sleep like a baby.

  23. 6:30 The Morton Arboretum in Chicago basically does this every winter. It's called the Illumination and it's awesome!

  24. Nature is great, I love it. Technology is great, I love it. But blending them together? Makes both worse. Part of the beauty of nature is that it doesn't answer you with words or have flashing lights. Part of the beauty of technology is that it is fast, efficient, and convenient. Combining them into enchanted forests and hacky sack URL sharers destroys what makes nature and technology good in their own unique ways.

  25. idk if im the only person who thinks this (judging by the comments i might be), but I REALLY like the concept behind the Moodstone device he showcased at 4:42. in the mental health context, i could see the Moodstone being super useful for therapists and their patients, since it creates an emotional roadmap of the patient's day.

  26. One word: Bullshit. Does this guy even know what he's talking about ? Because I didn't get one bit. Touching the cloud ? Man, we can't even touch a real cloud, stop thinking about touching a virtual one.

  27. One word: Bullshit. Does this guy even know what he's talking about ? Because I didn't get one bit. Touching the cloud ? Man, we can't even touch a real cloud, stop thinking about touching a virtual one.

  28. Productivity Increase = 0. Things are the way they are because they work. Not everything needs to be more complicated or artistic or fluffy..

  29. Really hate that heavy breathing on the mic and the sound of his spit. Had to skip and pause every now and then because it got out of control.
    His shirt doesn't fit, he seems insecure etc. Really guys, get someone better to do that job.

  30. Um, presupposition. My happy spot: My led lighting's fullspectrum is 98pt CRI (close to natural)…but at any time of day, which is highly useful for photography emulating day or morn/sunset. My ipad has a plastic grip molded after my hand, it's better than metal it's not cold and lets me connect by face and voice to friends I would normally never see.

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