March 13

Living in the Future


How much more innovation can there be? 

Sometimes it feels like we’ve already broken down most of the technological hurdles. If you can imagine something, you can probably build it. 

Looking back through history, organizations were hampered by very limited transportation and communication options. Those barriers have largely been demolished. If I need to transport something from one place to another, I can send it by truck, train, airplane, or ship. I might even be able to fax or email it to its intended destination instantaneously.

Currently, our biggest challenges seem to relate to medicine and education, but hordes of brilliant people are working feverishly to solve those problems as well. We’ve already mapped human DNA (and that of several animals). We’ve got powerful computers processing tremendous amounts of data looking for correlations that humans could never perceive, and determining unique treatments that people would never invent independently. And new startups and MOOCs (?) are revolutionizing the education process. We’ve pretty much wrapped up those problems. 

Of course I hope you can tell that I’m being a bit facetious. We’re clearly a long way from having solved all of these problems, but how far are we really? 

John Adams, in a 1780 letter to his wife, stated that:

The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.

It feels to me like we’ve spent the past several decades studying mathematics, geography, natural history, agriculture, and commerce (at least in the United States). And if you believe Seth Godin, we’re moving in to a period of time where the people that really create value will be the artists, the architects, the poets and painters and musicians. Is this the next natural step as we become bored with technology and science? 


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