Danny Hillis proposes to improve education, and the Reality Club responds. My favorite replies are from Freeman and Esther Dyson, and, intriguingly, Kai Krause, who is apparently sequestered deep inside an old German fortress working on a secret project that will emerge to revolutionize the Internet just when we least expect it.
In principle, the Internet could be done on paper, but the logistics are much better handled with the computer. "I am interested in the step beyond that, where what is going on is not just a passive document, but an active computation, where people are using the Net to think of new things that they couldn't think of as individuals, where the Net thinks of new things that the individuals on the Net couldn't think of."
"In the long run, the Internet will arrive at a much richer infrastructure, in which ideas can potentially evolve outside of human minds. You can imagine something happening on the Internet along evolutionary lines, as in the simulations I run on my parallel computers. It already happens in trivial ways, with viruses, but that's just the beginning. I can imagine nontrivial forms of organization evolving on the Internet. Ideas could evolve on the Internet that are much too complicated to hold in any human mind."
At the same time that a solution is becoming possible, the problem is reaching a crisis point: the amount of knowledge is becoming overwhelming, and the need for it is increasing. There is a widespread conviction that something radical needs to be done about education -- both the education of children and the continuing education of adults. The world is becoming so complicated that schools are no longer able to teach students what they need to know, but industry is not equipped to deal with the problem either. Something needs to change.