Stumbling across this video over the weekend, it amazes me how prescient the predictions of Isaac Asimov were.

For those not familiar with Asimov, he was one of the most prolific writers of all time - having written around 90,000 letters and almost 500 books.  You may know of the film I, Robot, the central plot of which was first published by Asimov in 1942.

Although I'm not sure exactly when it was recorded, Asimov died in 1992, 6 years before Google was created and 2 years before Yahoo!, Lycos, and Netscape were founded.  That context makes this interview even more astounding.

For me, two key takeaways from this video:

  1. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as we know them today could be only a very early phase of disruption to the education sector.  The School of the Air in Australia has been providing a model for mass primary and secondary education since 1951, and the technology that has enabled MOOCs like Coursera, eDx, and Udacity could be applied to primary and secondary education too.
  2. Asimov draws a parallel between providing people with clean water, and providing them with access to computing tools for education.  This was at a time when a 386-processor computer, without a monitor, was $2,499USD ($4,223USD in today's dollars).  With today's technology, it is within our reach to allow every person in the world to have a good education through programs like the One Laptop Per Child program, which has distributed 2 Million laptops, currently at a retail cost of around $59USD. 

 

 

 Radio Shack Catalog, 1992.  Tandy 386 Computer $2499 (without Monitor) - via  http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com

Radio Shack Catalog, 1992.  Tandy 386 Computer $2499 (without Monitor) - via http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com

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