There's a pill for that.

In the same TED talk by Nicholas Negroponte referred to elsewhere in this column we can get a glimpse of how much time we can save by making learning (if that's the word) almost instantaneous. Negroponte explains:

My prediction is that we are going to ingest information-we're going to swallow a pill and know English and swallow a pill and know Shakespeare.... It will go through the bloodstream and it will know when it's in the brain and, in the right places, it deposits the information.
If I understand correctly (and chances are good that I don't) what Negroponte is telling us here is that "studying" will soon be a thing of the past. This definitely goes beyond the wonders of Google Translate which makes knowing, or learning, another language unnecessary. In this particular case we don't have to rely on an app that instantly translates for us since we'll simply "know" another language from ingesting the right pill.

But when it comes to Shakespeare I'd think that we run into a bit of difficulty. Does Negroponte mean that we won't have to read his plays or sonnets since after ingesting a pill we'll "know" them? If so, does this "knowing" also include various interpretations of his writings? Maybe we'd have one pill for the Complete Works, and then another for, say, 19th century Shakespearean criticism and another for that of the 20th century. Would the order in which we ingest those pills make a difference in our understanding of Shakespeare?

And of course what's most strange about Negroponte's prediction is that he seems oblivious to the fact that "knowing" something is often much less satisfying that the process of learning or discovering that something.

Go to: What will we do with all that "spare" time?