Atoms to Bits & Bits to Atoms

I recently went to this social media panel that my school held and it was really just a twitter panel. Three huge rockstars from the Boston community on twitter came in to depart their wisdom upon us privileged masses.

And it was useful, don’t get me wrong. I loved learning their stories, how they got there, and the overarching theme of online-offline balance. It was refreshing and educational and I’m glad I went.

Then, one of the people on the panel started getting all foam-at-the-mouth crazy for the future.

At first, I was frothing right there with him. “Yea! Arm bands that can better interpret gestures! A kinect-like device for your computer. FUTUUUREE”

Then I wanted to sink into oblivion when he, as the crescendo to his excitement, went “And then will come the day that they can turn bits to atoms and atoms to bits! They’ve even done it with, like, a little thing…and…” He continued with frantic gestures that conveyed more of what he was saying than his actual words. Not that he used complicated jargon, but sometimes he could only use excited verbalizations.

Trust me, I’m all up for any future that promises me the ability to shout ‘Beam me up, Scotty!’ But considering how far off that future is and how deep of a fervor he was speaking about the topic, it was kind of like some guy on the street corner saying the apocalypse is going to happen! Today!

It was also great–and I don’t know whether to love him for this or to…okay I love him…shush–that the room he was saying this to was full of business students. Business students who attend a business school that cut out the basics of programming in their Management Information Systems concentration because it was ‘too technical’. Maybe a handful knew some science, but most were easily swayed by it. Like my friend who was very concerned we might one day just live in cyberspace.

Doing some more research on this topic, I couldn’t find any article. I did find an interview with Neil Gershenfeldwho is the director of the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT. They have not turned any atoms to bits or vice versa, but they are working on it. And I applaud that because, again, I may or may not have some Star Trek fantasies.

It’s certainly something to think about. It’s definitely not something to keep an eye on. Rather, I’ll be waiting for the hoverbike to enter commercialization, thank you Mr. Crazy-Future-Twiiter-Hotshot: keep your Atoms and Bits to yourself.

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