50 Free Tech Lectures That Will Impress and Inspire

Posted January 26, 2010

Stay on top of some of the most amazing developments in the world of technology by spending some time watching these free lectures online. Be amazed at how technology has evolved, learn about ways technology is impacting the future, and discover technology that will amaze you by its creativity and adaptability. Take advantage of this opportunity for free online education that should not be missed with these impressive and inspirational lectures.

Technology Then and Now

Technology is not a new idea, even though many people identify the idea of technology with modern conveniences. These lectures discuss technology of the past and how that past propels us toward the future.

  1. Charles Elachi on the Mars Rovers. See what Elachi has to say about the Mars Rover project from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.
  2. Kevin Kelly on how technology evolves. The executive editor of WIRED discusses humanity’s relationship with technology and how it evolves. He offers some amusing definitions of technology at the beginning of this lecture.
  3. Kevin Kelly on the next 5,000 days of the web. Kelly looks back over the beginnings of the Internet and its impact on society and looks forward to the next decade.
  4. Burt Rutan sees the future of space. In his 2006 talk, this legendary spacecraft designer shares his view of where we were in the space race, where we stand now, and what should be done for the future.
  5. Tom Wujec demos the 13th-century astrolabe. Wujec talks about an ancient piece of technology that could tell time, map the night sky, make calculations, and more.
  6. Jeff Bezos on the next web innovation. The founder of Amazon.com discusses his view of the dot-com bust and how it is like the Gold Rush.

Technology’s Impact on Humanity and the Future

Find out the many ways new technology is impacting humanity and its future, from forecasting trends to changing the way wars are waged to architectural materials that can repair themselves.

  1. Ray Kurzweil on how technology will transform us. Inventor and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil talks about the work on reverse-engineering the human brain and where that technology may take us in the near future.
  2. Jamais Cascio on tools for a better world. Cascio examines technology that will help create a greener environment while also providing benefits for humanity.
  3. Gregory Stock: To upgrade is human. Taped in 2003, this video shows a prophetic talk Stock gave on the possible impact of technology on humanity.
  4. Jeff Han demos his breakthrough touchscreen. Han discusses his work creating a touchscreen that may replace the ubiquitous point-and-click technology.
  5. Chris Anderson of WIRED on tech’s Long Tail. Anderson discusses technology trends, forecasting them, and the birth of new technology.
  6. PW Singer on military robots and the future of war. Discover how the future of war may be completely changed by the use of robots.
  7. Shai Agassi’s bold plan for electric cars. See what Agassi says about revolutionizing automobiles so that they are affordable, convenient, and green.
  8. Rachel Armstrong: Architecture that repairs itself?. Armstrong discusses ways to build sustainable architecture by using materials that can "grow" and repair themselves.
  9. Yves Behar’s supercharged motorcycle design. Yves Behar and Forrest North share their past and show how that contributed to their collaboration to create a fully electric motorcycle, which they show to the audience.
  10. Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action. Benyus suggests inventors look to nature for inspiration when trying to come up with ideas. She also discusses current technology that has done just that.

Technology and Medicine

These lectures cover advances being made in the medical field through technology.

  1. David Bolinsky animates a cell. Bolinsky is a medical illustrator who has created a three-minute animation of a cell. His talk also touches on such esoteric topics as truth and beauty.
  2. Paul Rothemund details DNA folding. Rothemund describes DNA in terms of computer programming and delves into the possibilities of writing cell programs in the same way computer programs are written.
  3. Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs. This inspiring and amazing talk shares the science and art behind the technology of prosthetics that are changing the way people think about the human body.
  4. Dean Kamen previews a new prosthetic arm. Learn about the technology that has developed a prosthetic arm that can be remarkably similar to a real limb.

Technology in Education

Find out how technology is impacting education with these talks.

  1. Media, Education, and the Marketplace. This series of lectures is headed up by Professor Shigeru Miyagawa at MIT and features prominent guest speakers, all of whom discuss the evolving landscape of new media and education.
  2. David Merrill demos Siftables. Take a look at this technology developed by an MIT grad student that may revolutionize the way hands-on learning is taught.
  3. Richard Baraniuk on open-source learning. This professor from Rice University discusses Connexions, an open source online system that promises to provide dynamic texts to teachers and students at no charge.
  4. Mae Jemison on teaching arts and sciences together. Astronaut Mae Jemison shares her thoughts on revitalizing the arts and sciences in education to help enable students to become logical and intuitive thinkers.
  5. Alan Kay shares a powerful idea about ideas. Kay talks about using computers to teach students in better, more dynamic ways.

Amazing Technology

Learn about some truly amazing technology that is being developed when you watch these lectures.

  1. Johnny Lee demos Wii Remote hacks. Check out the amazing tools this man can create with Wii remotes and a few other inexpensive tools.
  2. Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos Photosynth. Find out where the Photosynth project from Microsoft Live Labs is taking digital images.
  3. Eric Giler demos wireless electricity. Discover what Giler is doing to create wireless electricity as he talks about the history of wireless electricity and demos WiTricity, MIT’s version of it.
  4. Hod Lipson builds "self-aware" robots. Check out these robots that have become amazingly human-like in the way they learn and regenerate.
  5. Paul Debevec animates a photo-real digital face. Learn about the technology behind creating a computer-generated face that stands up to the rigorous standards of the human brain.
  6. Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology. Mistry discusses the technology he is developing that allows people to interact with data in a more natural manner.
  7. Woody Norris invents amazing things. Inventor Woody Norris demonstrates two of his latest inventions that treat sound in a whole new way.
  8. Ed Ulbrich: How Benjamin Button got his face. Ulbrich shares information about the technology behind the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the face-aging done in it.
  9. Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen. While Rosling’s talk is specifically about statistics and health in developing countries, the amazing technology he and his colleagues developed to showcase the data is astounding.
  10. Caleb Chung plays with Pleo. This toy designer shares some of his past designs and demonstrates his current one, Pleo, that interacts with children like a real pet.
  11. Steven Johnson on the Web as a city. Johnson paints a verbal picture of the power of a city and makes the analogy of the way a city works to how the Internet works.
  12. Golan Levin on software (as) art. Software engineer, Golan Levin, shows how he has created stunning art with technology.
  13. Steve Truglia: A leap from the edge of space. A professional stunt man, Truglia talks about how technology has transformed stunts to become more safe and more amazing. He also shares a peek at his next stunt, which has him jumping from the edge of space.
  14. Philip Rosedale on Second Life. This founder of Second Life details his history and how it contributed to the creation of Second Life as well as the implications of using such technology.

Computer Science

From the basics of understanding how computers work to more complex issues such as understanding algorithms, these computer science lectures come from some of the most prestigious lecturers in the field.

  1. Jeff Hawkins on how brain science will change computing. Hawkins discusses how the workings of human memory are inspiring those working on the future of computers.
  2. Building Dynamic Websites. This 12-part series conducted by Professor David Malan at Harvard includes all you could want to know about building a website that can easily compete in today’s environment.
  3. Operating Systems and System Programming. John Kubiatowicz from Berkeley starts from the basic concepts of operating systems and moves through a variety of topics relevant to system programming.
  4. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming. These instructors from MIT provide a series of lectures geared to people of any background. The goal is for anyone who watches to gain an understanding of how computing can solve problems and how to write simple scripts.
  5. The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. Get an introduction to computer science from this lecture series given by Professor Brian Harvey.
  6. Machine Learning. Andrew Ng from Stanford covers topics such as robotic control, data mining, speech recognition, and text and web data processing in these lectures.
  7. Introduction to Algorithms. Learn the techniques for designing and analyzing algorithms when you watch these lectures given by Charles E. Leiserson at MIT.
  8. Computer Graphics as a Telecommunication Medium. Vladlen Koltun discusses the recent research being done on virtual worlds and some of the ways experts are working to overcome current problems.
  9. Social Annotation, Contextual Collaboration, Online Transparency. Bobby Fishkin lectures on his work to incorporate textual notation within scholarly texts and how the technology works.
  10. Understanding Computers and the Internet. This lecture series is perfect for anyone, no matter their level of familiarity with a computer, to learn the inner workings of computers and the Internet.
  11. Pario: the Next Step Beyond Audio and Video. Professor Todd C. Mowry from Carnegie Mellon describes a joint venture between the university and Intel that is developing a new multimedia technology.

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