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Bran Ferren 談創造永恆,讓我們結合藝術與工程

Bran Ferren: To create for the ages, let's combine art and engineering

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Bran Ferren

2014年3月攝於TED2014

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恒

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後制:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

MAC及手持裝置版本請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講

Bran Ferren九歲時,父母帶他參觀羅馬萬神殿-它改變了一切。那一刻他開始瞭解,當與藝術、設計、美感結合時,科學及工程工具將變得多麼強大。從那時起,他一直尋找能與羅馬傑作匹敵的當代創新。敬請期待演講尾聲他出人意料的建議。

 

關於Bran Ferren

Applied Minds共同創始人Bran Ferren曾因替好萊塢、主題公園及百老匯創造特效、娛樂數百萬觀眾聞名,現在他藉由過去難以想像的發明,解決看似不可能的高科技挑戰。

 

為什麼要聽他演講

1970年於麻省理工學院輟學後,Bran Ferren成為戲劇、巡迴搖滾樂團及數十部電影的設計師及工程師,包括《變形博士》和《異形奇花》,這是在加入迪士尼擔任首席幻想工程師之前,之後成為迪士尼公司研發總監。

 

2000年,Ferren與合作夥伴Danny Hillis離開迪士尼,創立Applied Minds,一家從事趣味設計及發明的公司,致力於從匯集每一個可想像領域之最具創意思維的大熔爐中淬煉出改變遊戲規則的發明。

 

Bran Ferren的英語網上資料

Wikipedia: Bran Ferren

Discovery Channel: Curiosity Expert

 

 

[TED科技‧娛樂‧設計]

已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Bran Ferren 談創造永恆,讓我們結合藝術與工程

 

早安。我年幼時,某個經歷改變了我的一生,這正是我今天來此的原因。那一刻深深影響了我對藝術、設計和工程的看法。

 

至於背景,我幸運地成長於世上最偉大城市之一,一個充滿愛和傑出藝術家的家庭。我父親John Ferren在我15歲時過世,他是兼具熱情與專業的藝術家;我母親Rae亦然,他是紐約畫派抽象表現主義畫家之一,與同期夥伴共同創造了美國現代藝術,引領美國時代精神邁向20世紀現代主義。這不是很驚人嗎?在具象藝術盛行數千年後,相較之下現代藝術的歷史相當於15分鐘。如同許多其他重要的創新,那些激進想法不需要新科技,只需要創新思維及勇於嘗試的意願,加上面臨幾乎全體批評與反對時的承受力。在我們家裡,藝術無所不在,它就像氧氣環繞著我們,是生命必需品。當我觀看父親作畫時,他告訴我藝術並非裝飾品,而是思想交流的另一種方法,事實上它可聯繫知識與見解的世界。

 

身處這種充滿藝術氣息的環境,你或許認為我會被迫從事家族事業,但並非如此。我就像大多數生來就註定讓父母發瘋的孩子,我對成為藝術家毫無興趣,更別提畫家了。我真正熱愛的是電子產品和機械-拆開它們、重新打造、使它們運作。幸運的是,家族中也有工程師,他們和我的父母是我最早的榜樣。他們都有一個共同點,就是相當努力地工作。我祖父在布魯克林擁有一間自營鈑金櫥櫃工廠,週末時,我們會一起去Cortlandt街,它曾是紐約市的電子商街。我們在成堆電子零件中挖寶,花幾塊錢買些寶貝回家,例如諾登投彈瞄準器及IBM第一代真空管電腦零件。我發現這些東西既有用又令人著迷,我不是在學校學會工程學及事物運作的原理,而是藉由拆解及研究這些極複雜的裝置。我每天都得花幾小時做這些事,顯然還得避免觸電身亡。生活十分美好。

 

但令人難過的是,每年夏天這些機械都會被拋下,因為父母會帶我出國旅遊,體驗歷史、藝術和設計。我們參觀過歐洲與中東的大博物館和歷史建築,但為了鼓勵我對科技日益增長的興趣,他們會把我放在倫敦科學博物館之類的地方。我會獨自遊走好幾個小時,學習科學與技術的歷史。

 

然後,當我大約九歲時,我們前往羅馬。在某個炎熱的夏日,我們參觀一座外觀並不起眼的鼓形建築,父親說它叫做萬神殿,供奉諸神的聖殿。它的外觀並不特別,如我說過的,但-當我們走進去時,瞬間有三件事令我震驚:首先,儘管戶外悶熱無比,殿內卻十分涼爽。裡面相當暗,唯一的光線來源是屋頂的一個大洞。父親解釋那並非一個大洞,而被稱為眼洞窗,通往天際的眼睛。這個地方有某些特別之處,我不知道為什麼,就是感覺很特別。當我們走到房間中央,我透過眼洞窗仰望天際,這是我參觀過的第一座為神與人之間提供直接視野的教堂。但我好奇,如果下雨會怎樣?或許父親稱它為眼洞窗,但事實上它是屋頂的一個大洞。我低下頭,看見嵌在石板中的排水孔。當我較適應黑暗時,終於能看清地板與四周牆壁的細節。沒啥特別的,就像羅馬隨處可見的雕塑品。事實上它看起來像亞壁古道中,大理石推銷員帶著他的樣本書出現,展示給Hadrian(羅馬帝國五賢帝之一),Hadrian說:「我們全要了。」的東西。(笑聲)

 

但天花板令人驚豔,看起來像Buckminster Fuller的網格穹頂。我見過這些,Bucky是我父親的朋友。它十分現代、高科技、令人印象深刻。142呎巨大的淨跨距並非巧合,這正是它的高度。我喜愛這個地方,它相當美麗,是我前所未見的。因此我問父親:「這是何時建造的?」他說:「大約2000年前。」我說:「不,我是指屋頂。」你知道,我認為這是增建的現代屋頂,因為原來的屋頂在久遠以前的戰爭中被摧毀。父親說,「這就是原本的屋頂。」

 

那一刻改變了我的生命,至今仍記憶猶新。第一次地,我意識到人類在2000年前已聰明過人。(笑聲)我不曾想過這一點,我是指,在我看來,你知道,吉薩金字塔,我們前一年參觀過,它們確實令人印象深刻,很棒的設計。但聽著,只要給我無限預算、兩萬至四萬個工人及大約10至20年時間,從各地切割石塊、運送過來,我也能建座金字塔給你。但再多蠻力也無法讓你擁有萬神殿的圓頂,無論兩千年前或今天。順帶一提,它至今仍是史上最大的未加固混凝土圓頂。建造萬神殿需要一些奇蹟。至於奇蹟,我是指技術上幾乎不可能的、極高的風險,或許如今也難以完成,當然不可能由你完成。

 

例如,以下是萬神殿的一些奇蹟。僅為了使它的結構可行,他們必須發明超強的混凝土,並控制重量,在搭建圓頂的過程中不斷改變混合物密度。至於強度和輕度,圓頂結構使用了五層鑲板,大小逐漸遞減,為這項設計賦予強迫透視的驚人效果。殿內十分涼爽,因為它龐大的熱質量,自然對流的空氣上升,通過眼洞窗,當風吹過建築物上方時,產生Venturi效應。我第一次發現光線本身具實質性。透過眼洞窗的光束既美麗,亦可觸及。我第一次意識到光可以被設計。此外,所有形式的設計、視覺設計全都與它息息相關。因為沒有光,你無法看見任何東西。我也意識到,我並非第一位認為這個地方十分特別的人。它承受了重力、野蠻人、掠奪者、開發者及時間的蹂躪,成為我相信是史上持續使用時間最長的建築。

 

主要因為那次參觀,我開始瞭解,與學校所教導的相反,藝術和設計的世界事實上並非不相容於科學與工程。我意識到,當兩者結合,你可創造無法在單一領域中完成的驚人成果。但在學校,除了少數例外,它們被視為各自獨立的世界,現在依然如此。老師告訴我,我必須認真專注於其中一個領域。然而,督促我專注於單一領域只讓我更憧憬那些博學者,例如米開朗基羅、達文西、班傑明.富蘭克林,他們完全反其道而行,這讓我嚮往並渴望跨足兩個世界。

 

因此這些前所未有的創造性視野及複雜技術,例如萬神殿,是如何達成的?某個人本身,或許以Hadrian為例,需擁有卓越的創造性視野,他們也得擁有建立與執行它所需的敘述及領導能力,及對科學與技術的專精,加上拓展現有創新的能力與方法。我認為成為這些罕見的規則改變者至少需要達成五項奇蹟。問題是,無論你多麼才華洋溢、多麼富有或聰明,你僅能達成一至一個半的奇蹟,僅此而已,這是極限。然後你會耗盡時間、金錢、熱情,無論什麼。記住,大多數人甚至無法想像任何一種技術奇蹟,你至少需要五項才能建成萬神殿。以我的經驗,這些罕見的,能跨越藝術、設計、工程世界思考的先知,有能力察覺他人何時能提供足夠的奇蹟,使目標得以實現。藉由透徹的遠見,驅使他們鼓起勇氣和決心,提供其餘的奇蹟。此外,他們往往將他人眼中無法逾越的障礙轉化為特色。以萬神殿的眼洞窗為例,堅持將它納入設計,意味著你無法運用許多為羅馬拱門所研發的建築技術。然而,相對於採用這個方法,並重新思考重量與壓力分佈,他們想出一種僅適用於屋頂有個大洞的設計。完成之後,你得到美學與設計上的回報,包括光線、涼爽及與天際的直接聯繫,還不錯。這些人不僅相信能實現不可能的事,也必須實現。

 

遠古歷史到此為止。近期有哪些結合創意設計與科技進步的創新範例,能造成如此深遠的影響,使它們一千年後仍令人念念不忘?好,把一個人送上月球是個好例子,讓他安全返回地球也不錯。談談巨大的飛躍:很難想像人類歷史中有任何意義深遠的時刻勝於首次離開地球,踏入另一個世界。

 

因此登月後還有什麼?有人或許會說,現今的萬神殿是網際網路,但我認為並非如此,或至少這僅是故事的一部分。網際網路並非萬神殿,它比較類似混凝土的發明:十分重要,對建造萬神殿、使它長久存在有絕對的必要,但本身卻完全不夠格。然而,就像混凝土技術是使萬神殿成真的關鍵,新設計師將使用網際網路技術創造能長久存在的新概念。智慧手機是極佳的例子。不久後,世上絕大多數人將人手一部,使每個人與知識及他人互相聯繫的概念長久存在。

 

那麼下一個是什麼?近期哪些進展能與萬神殿相提並論?思考一下,我排除許多看似合理、激勵人心的突破,例如治療癌症。為什麼?因為萬神殿定位為經過設計的實質物體,僅藉由觀看和體驗即可受到啟發,並且將持續造成這種影響力。它是一種不同的語言,就像藝術。其他延長壽命、減輕病痛的重大貢獻當然十分重要,也十分了不起,但它們是整體知識與科技的部分延伸,就像網際網路。

 

因此下一個是什麼?或許與直覺相反,我認為這是一個富有遠見的想法,始於1930年代後期,每十年都經歷復興:自動駕駛車。現在你肯定想著,別鬧了,特殊版本的巡航控制怎能造成深遠影響?聽著,我們的世界多半圍繞著道路與運輸設計,這對羅馬帝國成就的重要性,相當於州際公路系統對美國的繁榮與發展。如今,這些連接我們世界的道路以汽車與卡車佔主導地位,它們百年來幾乎沒什麼改變。雖然目前尚不明顯,自動駕駛車將成為關鍵科技,使我們得以重新設計我們的城市以及延伸出的文明。原因如下:一旦它們開始普及,僅僅在美國,這些車輛每年將拯救成千上萬的生命,全球則是上百萬。汽車造成的能源消耗及空氣污染將大幅縮減,城市內外的道路壅塞情況將不復存在。它們將使一些引人入勝的新概念成真,包括城市設計、工作及生活方式。我們將更快抵達目的地,社會將收復目前因治理交通污染所耗損的大量生產力。

 

但為何是現在?為何我們認為時機已成熟?因為過去30年,汽車產業以外的人花費無數資金,創造所需的奇蹟,但為了完全不同的目的,這是藉由像DARPA(美國國防高等研究計劃署)、大學及與汽車產業毫不相干的企業察覺。如果你對此十分有概念,自動駕駛現在就能實現。因此自動駕駛車所需的五項奇蹟是什麼?第一,你需要知道所處的位置與正確時間,這已由美國政府落實的GPS-全球定位系統完美解決。你需要知道所有道路的位置、行車規則及目的地,各種私人導航系統、汽車導航系統、網路地圖解決了這一點。你必須擁有與高性能計算機網路及與附近車輛幾乎無間斷的交流,以便瞭解它們的意圖,為移動設備開發的無線技術加上些許調整可完全解決這個問題。你或許希望從一些社會與律師已達成使用安全共識的受限道路開始,這將從HOV(高乘載)車道開始,然後延伸。但最終,你需要辨識人、路標和物體,機器視覺系統、特殊感測器與高性能計算機可達成大部分目標。但事實證明多半不夠完善,當你家人也在車上時。人們不時需要進行意識建構,因此你或許確實需要叫醒你的乘客,詢問他們路中央那一大塊是什麼東西-這不算太糟,這將在新世界中賦予我們一份使命感。此外,一旦第一位駕駛者對他們困惑的車解釋,岔路口那隻巨型小雞其實是一家餐廳,繼續前進無妨,從那時起,地球表面其餘車輛都將瞭解這一點。

 

五項奇蹟多半具備了,現在你只需要一個清晰願景:一個自動駕駛車遍布的美好世界,擁有誘人美感及全新性能的設計,加上大量資金與艱苦研究,使它成為現實。這個世界將於距今幾年後展開,我預測在未來數十年間,自動駕駛車將永遠改變我們的世界。

 

最後,我開始相信建造下一個萬神殿的材料就在我們身邊,只是等待有遠見的人,擁有廣博的知識、多學科的技能,以及運用它們使夢想成真的強烈熱情。但這些人並非無中生有,他們需要從小開始培育及鼓勵。我們需要愛惜他們、幫助他們發現熱情所在,我們需要鼓勵他們努力工作,幫助他們瞭解失敗是成功的要素,毅力亦然。我們需要幫助他們找到自己的榜樣,給予他們相信自己及相信一切皆有可能的信心。正如祖父帶我購買電子零件,正如父母帶我參觀科學博物館。我們需要鼓勵他們尋找自己的道路,即使與我們的道路大不相同。

 

但提醒一下:我們也需要偶爾讓他們脫離現代奇蹟-電腦、手機、平板、遊戲機和電視機,帶他們到戶外陽光中,讓他們體驗自然,及這個世界、星球和文明的設計奇觀。如果不這麼做,他們將無法瞭解這些珍貴的東西是什麼,某天他們將負責保護和改善的東西。我們也需要讓他們瞭解一件在這個對科技日漸依賴的世界裡似乎並未被充分領會的事,就是藝術與設計並非奢侈品,也並非無法與科學及工程相容。事實上它們是使我們如此特別的關鍵。

 

某天,如果你有機會,或許可帶孩子到真正的萬神殿,就像我們將帶女兒Kira做的事,親身體驗那驚人設計的力量。它使羅馬尋常的一天延伸到未來兩千年後,設定了我的人生方向。

 

謝謝。

 

(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this Talk

When Bran Ferren was just 9, his parents took him to see the Pantheon in Rome — and it changed everything. In that moment, he began to understand how the tools of science and engineering become more powerful when combined with art, with design and beauty. Ever since, he's been searching for a convincing modern-day equivalent to Rome's masterpiece. Stay tuned to the end of the talk for his unexpected suggestion.

About the Speaker

Once known for entertaining millions by creating special effects for Hollywood, theme parks and Broadway, Applied Minds cofounder Bran Ferren now solves impossible tech challenges with previously unimaginable inventions. Full bio.

Transcript

Good morning. When I was a little boy, I had an experience that changed my life, and is in fact why I'm here today. That one moment profoundly affected how I think about art, design and engineering.

As background, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family of loving and talented artists in one of the world's great cities. My dad, John Ferren, who died when I was 15, was an artist by both passion and profession, as is my mom, Rae. He was one of the New York School abstract expressionists who, together with his contemporaries, invented American modern art, and contributed to moving the American zeitgeist towards modernism in the 20th century. Isn't it remarkable that, after thousands of years of people doing mostly representational art, that modern art, comparatively speaking, is about 15 minutes old, yet now pervasive. As with many other important innovations, those radical ideas required no new technology, just fresh thinking and a willingness to experiment, plus resiliency in the face of near-universal criticism and rejection. In our home, art was everywhere. It was like oxygen, around us and necessary for life. As I watched him paint, Dad taught me that art was not about being decorative, but was a different way of communicating ideas, and in fact one that could bridge the worlds of knowledge and insight.

Given this rich artistic environment, you'd assume that I would have been compelled to go into the family business, but no. I followed the path of most kids who are genetically programmed to make their parents crazy. I had no interest in becoming an artist, certainly not a painter. What I did love was electronics and machines -- taking them apart, building new ones, and making them work. Fortunately, my family also had engineers in it, and with my parents, these were my first role models. What they all had in common was they worked very, very hard. My grandpa owned and operated a sheet metal kitchen cabinet factory in Brooklyn. On weekends, we would go together to Cortlandt Street, which was New York City's radio row. There we would explore massive piles of surplus electronics, and for a few bucks bring home treasures like Norden bombsights and parts from the first IBM tube-based computers. I found these objects both useful and fascinating. I learned about engineering and how things worked, not at school but by taking apart and studying these fabulously complex devices. I did this for hours every day, apparently avoiding electrocution. Life was good.

However, every summer, sadly, the machines got left behind while my parents and I traveled overseas to experience history, art and design. We visited the great museums and historic buildings of both Europe and the Middle East, but to encourage my growing interest in science and technology, they would simply drop me off in places like the London Science Museum, where I would wander endlessly for hours by myself studying the history of science and technology.

Then, when I was about nine years old, we went to Rome. On one particularly hot summer day, we visited a drum-shaped building that from the outside was not particularly interesting. My dad said it was called the Pantheon, a temple for all of the gods. It didn't look all that special from the outside, as I said, but when we walked inside, I was immediately struck by three things: First of all, it was pleasantly cool despite the oppressive heat outside. It was very dark, the only source of light being an big open hole in the roof. Dad explained that this wasn't a big open hole, but it was called the oculus, an eye to the heavens. And there was something about this place, I didn't know why, that just felt special. As we walked to the center of the room, I looked up at the heavens through the oculus. This was the first church that I'd been to that provided an unrestricted view between God and man. But I wondered, what about when it rained? Dad may have called this an oculus, but it was, in fact, a big hole in the roof. I looked down and saw floor drains had been cut into the stone floor. As I became more accustomed to the dark, I was able to make out details of the floor and the surrounding walls. No big deal here, just the same statuary stuff that we'd seen all over Rome. In fact, it looked like the Appian Way marble salesman showed up with his sample book, showed it to Hadrian, and Hadrian said, "We'll take all of it." (Laughter)

But the ceiling was amazing. It looked like a Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome. I'd seen these before, and Bucky was friends with my dad. It was modern, high-tech, impressive, a huge 142-foot clear span which, not coincidentally, was exactly its height. I loved this place. It was really beautiful and unlike anything I'd ever seen before, so I asked my dad, "When was this built?" He said, "About 2,000 years ago." And I said, "No, I mean, the roof." You see, I assumed that this was a modern roof that had been put on because the original was destroyed in some long-past war. He said, "It's the original roof."

That moment changed my life, and I can remember it as if it were yesterday. For the first time, I realized people were smart 2,000 years ago. (Laughter) This had never crossed my mind. I mean, to me, the pyramids at Giza, we visited those the year before, and sure they're impressive, nice enough design, but look, give me an unlimited budget, 20,000 to 40,000 laborers, and about 10 to 20 years to cut and drag stone blocks across the countryside, and I'll build you pyramids too. But no amount of brute force gets you the dome of the Pantheon, not 2,000 years ago, nor today. And incidentally, it is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome that's ever been built. To build the Pantheon took some miracles. By miracles, I mean things that are technically barely possible, very high-risk, and might not be actually accomplishable at this moment in time, certainly not by you.

For example, here are some of the Pantheon's miracles. To make it even structurally possible, they had to invent super-strong concrete, and to control weight, varied the density of the aggregate as they worked their way up the dome. For strength and lightness, the dome structure used five rings of coffers, each of diminishing size, which imparts a dramatic forced perspective to the design. It was wonderfully cool inside because of its huge thermal mass, natural convection of air rising up through the oculus, and a Venturi effect when wind blows across the top of the building. I discovered for the first time that light itself has substance. The shaft of light beaming through the oculus was both beautiful and palpable, and I realized for the first time that light could be designed. Further, that of all of the forms of design, visual design, they were all kind of irrelevant without it, because without light, you can't see any of them. I also realized that I wasn't the first person to think that this place was really special. It survived gravity, barbarians, looters, developers and the ravages of time to become what I believe is the longest continuously occupied building in history.

Largely because of that visit, I came to understand that, contrary to what I was being told in school, the worlds of art and design were not, in fact, incompatible with science and engineering. I realized, when combined, you could create things that were amazing that couldn't be done in either domain alone. But in school, with few exceptions, they were treated as separate worlds, and they still are. My teachers told me that I had to get serious and focus on one or the other. However, urging me to specialize only caused me to really appreciate those polymaths like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, people who did exactly the opposite. And this led me to embrace and want to be in both worlds.

So then how do these projects of unprecedented creative vision and technical complexity like the Pantheon actually happen? Someone themselves, perhaps Hadrian, needed a brilliant creative vision. They also needed the storytelling and leadership skills necessary to fund and execute it, and a mastery of science and technology with the ability and knowhow to push existing innovations even farther. It is my belief that to create these rare game changers requires you to pull off at least five miracles. The problem is, no matter how talented, rich or smart you are, you only get one to one and a half miracles. That's it. That's the quota. Then you run out of time, money, enthusiasm, whatever. Remember, most people can't even imagine one of these technical miracles, and you need at least five to make a Pantheon. In my experience, these rare visionaries who can think across the worlds of art, design and engineering have the ability to notice when others have provided enough of the miracles to bring the goal within reach. Driven by the clarity of their vision, they summon the courage and determination to deliver the remaining miracles and they often take what other people think to be insurmountable obstacles and turn them into features. Take the oculus of the Pantheon. By insisting that it be in the design, it meant you couldn't use much of the structural technology that had been developed for Roman arches. However, by instead embracing it and rethinking weight and stress distribution, they came up with a design that only works if there's a big hole in the roof. That done, you now get the aesthetic and design benefits of light, cooling and that critical direct connection with the heavens. Not bad. These people not only believed that the impossible can be done, but that it must be done.

Enough ancient history. What are some recent examples of innovations that combine creative design and technological advances in a way so profound that they will be remembered a thousand years from now? Well, putting a man on the moon was a good one, and returning him safely to Earth wasn't bad either. Talk about one giant leap: It's hard to imagine a more profound moment in human history than when we first left our world to set foot on another.

So what came after the moon? One is tempted to say that today's pantheon is the Internet, but I actually think that's quite wrong, or at least it's only part of the story. The Internet isn't a Pantheon. It's more like the invention of concrete: important, absolutely necessary to build the Pantheon, and enduring, but entirely insufficient by itself. However, just as the technology of concrete was critical in realization of the Pantheon, new designers will use the technologies of the Internet to create novel concepts that will endure. The smartphone is a perfect example. Soon the majority of people on the planet will have one, and the idea of connecting everyone to both knowledge and each other will endure.

So what's next? What imminent advance will be the equivalent of the Pantheon? Thinking about this, I rejected many very plausible and dramatic breakthroughs to come, such as curing cancer. Why? Because Pantheons are anchored in designed physical objects, ones that inspire by simply seeing and experiencing them, and will continue to do so indefinitely. It is a different kind of language, like art. These other vital contributions that extend life and relieve suffering are, of course, critical, and fantastic, but they're part of the continuum of our overall knowledge and technology, like the Internet.

So what is next? Perhaps counterintuitively, I'm guessing it's a visionary idea from the late 1930s that's been revived every decade since: autonomous vehicles. Now you're thinking, give me a break. How can a fancy version of cruise control be profound? Look, much of our world has been designed around roads and transportation. These were as essential to the success of the Roman Empire as the interstate highway system to the prosperity and development of the United States. Today, these roads that interconnect our world are dominated by cars and trucks that have remained largely unchanged for 100 years. Although perhaps not obvious today, autonomous vehicles will be the key technology that enables us to redesign our cities and, by extension, civilization. Here's why: Once they become ubiquitous, each year, these vehicles will save tens of thousands of lives in the United States alone and a million globally. Automotive energy consumption and air pollution will be cut dramatically. Much of the road congestion in and out of our cities will disappear. They will enable compelling new concepts in how we design cities, work, and the way we live. We will get where we're going faster and society will recapture vast amounts of lost productivity now spent sitting in traffic basically polluting.

But why now? Why do we think this is ready? Because over the last 30 years, people from outside the automotive industry have spent countless billions creating the needed miracles, but for entirely different purposes. It took folks like DARPA, universities, and companies completely outside of the automotive industry to notice that if you were clever about it, autonomy could be done now. So what are the five miracles needed for autonomous vehicles? One, you need to know where you are and exactly what time it is. This was solved neatly by the GPS system, Global Positioning System, that the U.S. Government put in place. You need to know where all the roads are, what the rules are, and where you're going. The various needs of personal navigation systems, in-car navigation systems, and web-based maps address this. You must have near-continuous communication with high-performance computing networks and with others nearby to understand their intent. The wireless technologies developed for mobile devices, with some minor modifications, are completely suitable to solve this. You'll probably want some restricted roadways to get started that both society and its lawyers agree are safe to use for this. This will start with the HOV lanes and move from there. But finally, you need to recognize people, signs and objects. Machine vision, special sensors, and high-performance computing can do a lot of this, but it turns out a lot is not good enough when your family is on board. Occasionally, humans will need to do sense-making. For this, you might actually have to wake up your passenger and ask them what the hell that big lump is in the middle of the road. Not so bad, and it will give us a sense of purpose in this new world. Besides, once the first drivers explain to their confused car that the giant chicken at the fork in the road is actually a restaurant, and it's okay to keep driving, every other car on the surface of the Earth will know that from that point on.

Five miracles, mostly delivered, and now you just need a clear vision of a better world filled with autonomous vehicles with seductively beautiful and new functional designs plus a lot of money and hard work to bring it home. The beginning is now only a handful of years away, and I predict that autonomous vehicles will permanently change our world over the next several decades.

In conclusion, I've come to believe that the ingredients for the next Pantheons are all around us, just waiting for visionary people with the broad knowledge, multidisciplinary skills, and intense passion to harness them to make their dreams a reality. But these people don't spontaneously pop into existence. They need to be nurtured and encouraged from when they're little kids. We need to love them and help them discover their passions. We need to encourage them to work hard and help them understand that failure is a necessary ingredient for success, as is perseverance. We need to help them to find their own role models, and give them the confidence to believe in themselves and to believe that anything is possible, and just as my grandpa did when he took me shopping for surplus, and just as my parents did when they took me to science museums, we need to encourage them to find their own path, even if it's very different from our own.

But a cautionary note: We also need to periodically pry them away from their modern miracles, the computers, phones, tablets, game machines and TVs, take them out into the sunlight so they can experience both the natural and design wonders of our world, our planet and our civilization. If we don't, they won't understand what these precious things are that someday they will be resopnsible for protecting and improving. We also need them to understand something that doesn't seem adequately appreciated in our increasingly tech-dependent world, that art and design are not luxuries, nor somehow incompatible with science and engineering. They are in fact essential to what makes us special.

Someday, if you get the chance, perhaps you can take your kids to the actual Pantheon, as we will our daughter Kira, to experience firsthand the power of that astonishing design, which on one otherwise unremarkable day in Rome, reached 2,000 years into the future to set the course for my life.

Thank you.

(Applause)


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