The day my son changed the world

article-author
Jeremy Schell

We’ve all heard it before and those of us who are blessed with children, nieces and nephews have perhaps even told them once or twice; you can do anything and accomplish anything if you just put your mind to it and work hard.  Somewhere along the way as adults have we forgotten this or just perhaps settled to that which is comfortably within our grasp?

Much like every other day, this morning while driving my eight year old son to school our topics of conversation covered a broad spectrum; what classes he was to have today, kids in his class, remembering lines in a movie we saw two years ago..punch bug 10 points..what the guys at the pawn shop bought last night on Pawn Stars and the inevitable, "Dad, when I grow up I’m going to invent the Blah Blah."

Today’s invention…..a new type of computer; featuring better apps, faster games, a mouse that never misses what he wanted to click, a keyboard that never spells anything wrong and a screen that is 3D, could be a touchscreen with keyboard or works with the new Wii.  As with many of his inventions, they were creative and relative to his own experiences and understanding.  For most of the drive, he rambled through its many features which I believe also included some type of combination ray gun, grenade launcher and telescope…sweet.  Along the way, I couldn’t help but begin to drift and think about the work I had to do today, tomorrow’s presentation and plans for something else I had to do which I can barely recall now.  It was at that moment he asked an intriguing question, "perhaps the computer does not need a keyboard or a mouse…..but what would it use instead?".

I thought about this while we talked and then he suggested perhaps his computer shouldn’t have a keyboard or mouse at all; what if the computer was an extension of himself? What if the computer interacted with his thoughts and did what he wanted as he wanted it?

For a brief moment I considered the idea with the same level of interest as the grenade launcher…..but then again, what if?  I couldn’t help but imagine, no physical interface or input devices, just what he wants interacting on the screen with his thoughts as he has them. Imagine the potential? How much more productive would we be? Seriously, my presentation would already be done and I could remember that other thing I need to be doing right now. More importantly, imagine how this computer could change the lives for those with physical disabilities or for those who cannot or no longer interact with a modern keyboard and mouse. 

Fantasy…..Star Trek…..perhaps.  Then again here I am typing this blog post on my handheld iPad on a plane flying 1,400 miles across the country at 38,000′, go figure. Over the past couple years there have been tremendous advances in our understanding of the human mind; better understanding of how hearing and sight are interpreted and even implants directly within the brain that have helped restore portions of human sight. In addition, over the last 20 years we have seen advances in all aspects of computing; what would the future hold for him when he’s 15, 20, or even 30?  Only those who dream without limitation can imagine what may be next.  Just perhaps this scientific fantasy will be realized in his lifetime; maybe he creates it. Maybe I can retire?

As we discussed the potential of this revolutionary idea he commented that he thought this computer would change the world.  It will.  All I could tell him was that he could accomplish anything, including changing the world, if he put his mind to it, studied and worked hard.

I wonder what he’ll invent tomorrow.

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