Could We One Day Learn A Language By Popping A Pill?

07/10/2014 05:21 pm ET | Updated Jul 10, 2014

What if learning Mandarin or Arabic were as simple as popping a pill?

The idea may sound like a sci-fi movie plot point, but one well-known tech visionary believes we could one day learn a language simply by swallowing a pill.

In a recent video podcast for TedTalks, MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte revisits some of the tech-related predictions he's made over the past three decades. In the final minute of his talk, Negroponte addresses what may be his most intriguing prediction yet. Check it out above.

"We have been doing a lot of consuming of information through our eyes. That may be a very inefficient channel. My prediction is that we are going to ingest information," he says in the video. "You're going to swallow a pill and know English. You're going to swallow a pill and know Shakespeare."

How exactly would we absorb this new knowledge from the pill? While he's short on the details, Negroponte said that the pill he has envisioned would follow the bloodstream to the brain, where it would deposit pieces of information in the right places.

Too hard to swallow?

Negroponte said that his prediction is not "quite as far-fetched" as you may think. After all, he said, he has discussed the idea with MIT colleagues including a neuroscientist and expert in biomechatronics (the science behind integrating electronics with biological organisms). Unrelated research, revealed earlier this year, suggested that there may be a drug capable of helping people develop perfect vocal pitch.

But don't expect a language wonder drug to hit pharmacies anytime soon. Negroponte opines that this prediction is unlikely to come true for about 30 years.

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