Alan Kay - Inventing the Future Part 1 (2015)

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hi my
name is Alan Kay and I like to apologize for having
a bit of laryngitis just on the day of
this shoot and I've been asked to talk
about inventing the future and
of course we mostly think of inventing
in the realm of technology but
I think most people watching
this will have been struck by
the fact that living in the 21st century
in the United States is
a vastly different experience than living
a hundred thousand years ago anywhere in the world and
far as we know the brains
that we have are roughly the same
as those brains that belong
to the very same species we are
mostly lived in small groups
of people hunting
and gathering and falling
in love and telling stories to each other and
fighting other people taking
revenge caring for the young
and gradually building up a culture
that they
taught to the next generation in
their tribe and the
first great invention of human
beings or of
evolution was this idea of
culture and it came from a slightly
earlier invention of evolution
which was language and
there's a language that just
as a few important ways more different than
our primate ancestors
and that was enough
to be able to deal with sequences
of things and portrayals of things and being
able to make up things which we no
other animals can do but be able
to tell our made-up things to other people and
get them to believe in it that started
to allow us to
aggregate together in larger than about
a hundred people which is what we can deal
with face to face so
this notion of culture beliefs
in the same kinds of religions beliefs in
the same kinds of customs is something
that can spread so that people
we've never met are still recognizable
when we finally do run into them
so we can think about that as
the first great inventing the future
for Humanity and it took
many tens of thousands of years
with the invention
art which may have always been with us in between
before we started
taking stock of the world
around us and starting
to improve our condition and of course we use
tools for a long time before this
but much of the tool use before we
came on the planet
consisted of maybe
a semi accidental invention like using
a shaped Rock to
cut something or pound
something and those inventions
which were very few also hung around
for hundreds of thousands of years the idea of making
improvements or even thinking about how it
is that they did what they did didn't occurred
to people before us and in fact we're
that good at it either so we're basically
set up for coping with the
world around us which makes sense in a subsistence
society making do with it and finding
ways to enjoy ourselves as much as possible
and so when we look at that
from the perspective of today
there was a point where we
started moving from accidental
inventions that in themselves
started changing us like writing
which is intended for a very mundane purpose
as far as anybody can tell which is not
to write down stories but to write down numbers
counts of ears of
corn gradually got
moved into starting
to write down things people were saying and
started taking on
a world of its own that took
again took thousands of years to
make us into a creature
that not only learned
from listening to others but learn from the
past in a way that was
what was written in the past
rather than continually
interpretations of it and
so the last
few hundred years have been the greatest revolution
of all because that was when people became
self-conscious about
we deal with the rest of the world which is pretty much to not
understand it to
try and interpret the world through
our belief structures rather than trying things and
I'm talking about the invention of science
which has transformed humanity in
more ways in more directions
and in larger scope than any
other invention in history so
my interest in education
actually came about in
the 60s when a
lot of us back then who were in our 20s
we're worrying about the
state of humanity and in
the early 60s the Vietnam War hadn't
happened yet that we weren't worrying about that yet but
what it started to happen is the
many issues that have been hidden
away in our
country our country that
says it's based on
individual liberties and pursuit
of happiness but people
started realizing people who are
not oppressed started realizing that a rather
large percentage of us were
oppressed and unjustly
stole and I'm not just talking about African
Americans but one
of the trigger points was the intern ship
of native
japanese-americans because of their ethnicity
during World War two do a
bunch of things started happening in the 50s
that got a
cause of renewal of
interest in
what this country actually has been trying
to stand for and so there's a lot of thought
about how can we actually
make good on some of these ideals the
ideals were looked at and they were found to be still
good and the question is how to do something
about it and one of the huge correlates
education in the large not
education for specific skills but
education that takes in and
compares and
contrasts knowledge without their cultures
and in fact you could imagine
as Gerry Bruner Jerome Bruner has pointed
out a long time ago it's really hard to
assess your own culture if it's the only culture
you can see because everything looks normal
and it's when you see other human beings have
found other solutions for making their
way through life that you start seeing that your culture is
a collection of local
solutions some of them good some of them pretty dumb
but all of them learned as this is
the way things should be and so this kind of
relative ization of
humanity into moving
view of us
where we're always right out to a
level where there's more points of view is a one
of the primary parts of what education needs
to be about in our country it's actually
vital and that's because the
president and the legislators
are chosen by the people and
by the way the Senate was only started
to be chosen by the people themselves around
1912 1913 before that
the Senate in Washington was chosen by the
the state legislatures and
so what we've seen is that mmm
there is a movement towards more democracy and
as that movement happens these citizens have
to actually be in the same ball game
there cannot be an intellectual and knowledge
gap between the
people we choose as representatives for us and the
people who choose those representatives
and one of the feelings was that if
this was ever good in the United States
and it wasn't ever great as far
as history records that it
was eroding seriously in
the 20th century and looking at it now from
2015 its
eroded seriously and
makes education something much more vital than
whether or not you're gonna get a job
after you finish high school
even whether you can make a living it has to
do with whether there's actually a rich
flowing Society
full of resources for us to do things with that
Society was actually invented and
the particular form of it was invented in
the late 18th century by people
who were amazingly prescient
about the different kinds
problems that were going to be solved and they had a an idea that
was rather new that the world fifty
years from then was gonna be very different than
world and they're creating the country and so they created
it in such a way that it
was not bound to the time it was created it was created as
a set of ideas and processes and experiments
Your feminist hero slept with the enemy
and she doesn't regret it.
I'm gonna stick around until you get canceled.