In the B.I. [before the internet] world, starting a business had a clear timeline: says Ito, you hired MBAs to write a business plan, you raised money, and then you built the thing you wanted to build. But in the AI world, the cost of innovation has come down so much that you start with the building—and then figure the money and business plan. “It’s pushed innovation to the edges, to the dorms rooms and startups, and away from stodgy organizations that had the money, the power and the influence.”
During Nicholas Negroponte’s era at the MIT Media Lab, the motto he proposed was: “Demo or die.” He said that the demo only had to work once. But Ito, who points out that he’s a “three-time college dropout,” wants to change the motto to: “Deploy or die.” He explains, “You have to get it into the real world to have it actually count.”
Ito takes us to Shenzhen, China, where young inventors are taking this idea to the next level. In the same way that “kids in Palo Alto make websites,” these kids make cell phones. They bring their designs to the markets, look at what’s selling and what others are doing, iterate and do it over again. “What we thought you could only do in software, kids in Shenzhen are doing in hardware,” he says.
Ito urges us to follow a compass rather than a map. Instead of planning out every exact points before you start, allow yourself to make the decisions you need as you go in the general direction of where you need to be.
“I don’t like the word ‘futurist,’” he says. “I think we should be now-ists. Focus on being connected, always learning, fully aware and super present.”
Looking forward to seeing this talk when the video becomes available.