Our ability to imagine the future is limited only by our imaginations. Everything we use or recognise – from homes to cars, packaged food to medical supplies – has emerged due to someone, or a collection of people, daring to imagine a better alternative to what currently exists.
That is the string which entwines humanity from the moment we took our first steps, to the second we set off in exploration of the stars. Our ability to not just imagine, but create products which significantly improve every aspect of our lives is unique to our species. Whether that is in the eradication of disease, defence against threats or travel we have relentlessly innovated on top of the currently available technology of the day to achieve higher efficiency or better performing alternatives.
Human Knowledge Compounds Relentlessly
The evolution from horse to car was massive. The change from human labour to machinery even more significant. The thing is though, had you asked the owners of these things at the time how they could improve on what they currently have, they would have asked for a greater number of more efficient workers and a faster horse. Their will always be dissent or opposition to progress, but every revolution in history has led to the significant increase in the quality of life we experience.
Our ability to invent the future is constrained by our ability to imagine a new future, but also by our ability to link apparently unrelated tasks and discoveries. It’s in developing new competencies between disparate portions of knowledge. Knowledge is one thing, you can know that computers exist, but know how is the most crucial piece of the puzzle and that means understanding how things work. You can understand the consequences of the atomic bomb without possessing the ability to create it
Fantasizing about things is easy, building them is hard
But build them we must. To evolve and progress we must expand our capacity to create. We must encourage dreamers to chase their dreams and pick them up when they fail. Only by taking risk in pursuit of the most daring goals can we ever hope to make innovation a reality. Dreamers must become creators or be matched with people who can.
The main difference between apples and Apple is that the apples we eat existed before we had a word for them, while the Apple we use to check our emails existed first in someone head and then in the world.
Products do not just embody information but also imagination
Products are the crystallisation of imagination which endows our species with new capacities — they are quantum leaps forward which enable progress in terms of efficiency and capability. Only through imagination can we improve the condition in which we live, only by creating can we realise them. That is the power of humanity — to make real the thoughts that expand our ability to subsist.
The problem with that is that experts are often blinded by their own knowledge. There’s a reason Kodak never invented the digital camera. We become complacent in what currently exists and that blinds us to the possibilities of what’s to come. The innovator’s dilemma challenges us to never stop pursuing what comes next. When what is now fills our pockets with unimaginable riches, what is the incentive to reinvent the future? There is a reason disruption of the Titans occurs. Success breeds ignorance of the conditions which enabled them to rise in the first place.
Innovation requires a multitude of knowledge across numerous disparate industries. Cross-pollination of expertise is required for the extension and reimagining of what currently exists. The most efficient means to achieve this is by marrying expertise to general intelligence. Both spheres act to enrich the other’s capacity to invent and explore. Each dares the other to be bolder by enabling collaborative growth.
Visionaries typically come from the most unexpected sources
To reinvent what is to come we must take a broad overview of what currently exists and force overlap between subjects which aren’t typically complimentary. Collaboration and sharing of expertise are necessary to make the next quantum leap. At no point in human history have we possessed such a vast abundance of knowledge, what we require then is the sharing of ideas in order to expand of understanding of what we know. We need to breed what exists to birth what is to come.
The problem we face is that we don’t know what we don’t know
We are ignorant and complacent due to the ease in which we have access to information. We imagine we are more informed than we actually are which prevents us being as vulnerable as is required. To progress, we must embrace our lack of knowledge as an opportunity to exponentially increase the scope of what we are capable of.
Generalism will become a key driver of domain-specific growth. Groups of collaborators will share their expertise while others will inject aspects of their knowledge altering the trajectory of the expected outcome.
Diversity of not just though, but gender, age, morals, a more vivid spectrum of what society is constituent to, is needed to recognise the vision of the future. Focus on subsets of humanity to provide all breakthroughs is baffling in its stupidity. Think of the insights we have missed, the opportunities we have rejected or how far further forward we could be had we provided the entirety of society the same opportunity to invent the future.
White males have invented the majority of what we use now — but imagine a world endowed by the most diverse range of thought. Think of the products have been missed, the opportunities that have been lost, and how far progress lags behind where we could have been.
Progress isn’t an inherited right of one class, it is the birthright of every human no matter where they are born, what gendered body they inhabit or what religion their parents conform to.
Each of us is equal in the eyes of the future of humanity. Reverence will be bestowed dependent on the contribution we make to progress.
Whether you participate, or not, is up to you