Isaac Asimov Imagines Learning in the Electronic Age … and Gets It Quite Right (1989)

In times past, we’ve seen Arthur C. Clarke, the great sci-fi writer, gaze into the future and fore­see our real­i­ty in a most uncan­ny way. Just watch him pre­dict our dig­i­tal­ly-con­nect­ed world in 1964, and then PC com­put­ers, e‑banking and telecom­mut­ing in 1974.

Now it’s time to see whether Isaac Asi­mov, anoth­er sci-fi leg­end, pos­sessed the same pow­ers of pre­science. Above, we’re high­light­ing the sec­ond part of an inter­view taped in 1989. It fea­tures Asi­mov and a younger Bill Moy­ers talk­ing about edu­ca­tion and sci­en­tif­ic progress, and it does­n’t take long for Asi­mov to start describ­ing the rev­o­lu­tion in learn­ing we’re see­ing unfold today. Imag­ine a world where com­put­ers, inter­net con­nec­tions and web­sites let peo­ple learn when they want, wher­ev­er they want, and how they want. Sud­den­ly tech­nol­o­gy democ­ra­tizes edu­ca­tion and empow­ers peo­ple of all ages, and, before too long, “Every­one can have a teacher in the form of access to the gath­ered knowl­edge of the human species.” That’s the world we’re com­ing into, espe­cial­ly dur­ing recent months, thanks to Google, open­course­ware, new-fan­gled MOOCs (Mas­sive Open Online Cours­es), the Khan Acad­e­my, and even sites like our own. (Have you seen our lists of 450 Free Cours­es? 300 Free eBooks? 150 Free Text­books? 400 Free Audio Books, etc?). Yes, 23 years ago, Asi­mov pret­ty much knew exact­ly where we would be today, and then some.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Free: Isaac Asimov’s Epic Foun­da­tion Tril­o­gy Dra­ma­tized in Clas­sic Audio

Free Sci­ence Fic­tion Clas­sics on the Web: Hux­ley, Orwell, Asi­mov, Gaiman & Beyond

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.