My dad is something of a crypto-Luddite. He’ll happily use his mobile phone, yet deny, denounce and pour scorn and ridicule on anyone and anything else making those brave, tentative first steps out from the safe confines of a research laboratory and into reality. He lacks faith in technology — and he’s not alone, either…
Thankfully, due to the implacable hearts & minds of the inventors scattered around this world of ours, throughout the whole of human history, the combined efforts of the doubters, the naysayers and the fair-weather friends wasn’t enough to repress or stall the invention of either the aeroplane or the automobile.
Those with the vision and the brute force of spirit see beyond the “No!” and the “Never!” to the “Possibly” and the “What if?”, leaving in their wake a sea of tantalizing thoughts and glistening notions, lapping over the doubters and the agreeable people in equal measure.
The truly great ideas are the ones that disrupt the current paradigms, upsetting the status quo and undermining existing business models.
Sometimes, what seems obvious to the originator of an idea can be a blessing to all those who discover this new way of thinking and of doing, transforming their lives for the better.
However, ingenuity and creativity of the thought & deed isn’t always for the betterment of all. Consider first the invention of the flintlock pistol, which was then superseded by the superior revolver.
And the near Herculean effort required by some of the greatest minds of the 20th century to create the first atom bomb, which ended the lives of tens of thousands of people in the first few seconds after they were detonated.
The bastion of visionary thinking
We are the fortunate ones. Our world is primed to enable almost any idea, no matter its remit, type or provenance.
We are at the cusp of an abyssal, into which almost any idea imaginable can be tossed into, whereupon a mountain may rise to first fill the chasm and then the sky above.
We are going beyond the mechanical and the electrical and are now harnessing the power of the atom and the living cell to build devices and organisms of staggering complexity, size and precision.
In my lifetime, I am confident we shall see:
- the laws of physics unified, with practical experimentations in time travel;
- fully functional artificially intelligent robots, with rights on a par with our own;
- new and innovative materials allowing for buildings to rise into the atmosphere and bridges to span huge distances;
- the current and future energy crisis solved, maybe harnessing the power of the sun itself;
- colonization of the Moon and Mars, and exotic propulsion technologies, offering us the prospect of traveling to the nearest stars;
I say this first not as a visionary but as a pragmatist; such things will come to pass because they’re needed, either by businesses, governments, or by all of human kind, maybe facilitating a greater need, leading to yet more amazing and revolutionary discoveries…