eBooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point Online Conference
Ray Kurzweil Keynote
Kurzweil is a legend and it was fascinating to listen to him. The reality of information technology is that its growth is exponential. But our intuition about the future is linear in nature. This causes us problems in predicting the future accurately and being able to prepare for it. We’re at a point where eBooks in libraries are real.
We will experience 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century, if today’s rate of information technology change continues. Information technologies double their price performance over a single year. Moore’s Law, baby! Communication technologies, biological technologies, are all increasing. The size of the internet in terms of bandwidth usage and pages hosting is exploding as well. Kurzweil predicts that we’ll put screens into our eyeglasses and view screens at any magnification we choose, looking at eContent, augmented reality applications, and web content.
U.S. education expenditures have increased exponentially too, which Kurzweil connects to more of an investment in training on technology. (I must disagree with him on this. Schools have very poor technology investment in general. And expenditure increase has not seen any connection to increase in performance or graduation rates, so throwing more money at the problem won’t help. We need to fundamentally change our approach to education.)
People are still asking for more text-to-speech capabilities, books read aloud to them, and more flexibility. He demo-ed Blio, an eBook Store with a million free eBooks: http://www.blio.com. It’s out for the PC now, and they’re building iPhone & iPad, Android, and Mac versions now. Looks a lot like other eBook Stores with covers, reviews, publisher info, etc. Downloading the book preserves the original format, page by page — anything with a rich graphical format benefits from this. You can preview pages, turn the pages and they flip as with a printed book, use reference tools, magnify, etc.
There needs to be a social compact that people will respect intellectual property rights. The technical means to break them exists, but the respect to not break them is the key. Kurzweil stresses that “it’s not cool to take intellectual property without paying for it.”
The graphs from Kurzweil’s presentation on the evolution of many things can be found at http://www.KurzweilAI.net/pps/KurzweilPowerPoint/