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Ian Lawrence

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Where are the things we were promised?

Can't we think any more?

Education used to be an end in itself, not a means. It wasn't about having a high-paying career. It was about knowing the world, about having knowledge and wisdom for its own sake. It was, quite bluntly,the accumulation of useless knowledge by the elite -- those that could afford to spend time on such things, knowing that useless knowledge has a way of becoming useful in the most unexpected of ways. How fortunate we are to live in an age where the accumulation of useless knowledge is available to so many, and how sad it is that so few take advantage of it.

So this came from Planet  Debian and it sort of fits with some things that I have been worrying about recently. We need to solve some big problems in the world and urgently  (global warming, population control, cancer etc) but the innovation which I see around is about putting some beeer on a beer wall or BuddyPoking someone with a ninja kick .

All well and good right, we are breaking down the walls between people, OK...I am a CAMRA real ale guy through and through too so I am good to go.. but this is not new stuff...this is not real innovation , innovation like ' shit geezer, how did you do that?'

I think this web 2.0 thing (apart from being like 'cloud computing' some marketers wet dream) is great if you are in the business of consumer goods. Let the community innovate and participate and the world turns. But what happens when we want to work out the hard stuff?

This used to be called Blue Sky research apparently when this sort of thing had a market value.... I read this too recently

Where is the Future We Were Promised?


Five years into the 20th century, Einstein was living his Annus Mirabilis. Where is our patent office today? Who is our Einstein? Are we the first generation in many years incapable of true innovation? And let’s not just talk about things as complicated as the theory of relativity. I remember complaining about the drill when I was young, and my dentist telling me that when I was grown up he would have to find another job because we would have a vaccine against cavities. Where is this vaccine against cavities? Where are the cures for catarrh and AIDS? Where is that future devoid of poverty in which robots were going to do everything for people and we were going to dedicate ourselves to art and culture?


Unfortunately, when I look around me today, during the end of 2008, I see humanity leading an unsustainable life based on technology that should already be obsolete. I believe that it is time for us to engage in some serious self-criticism and start to invest in science again, because the list of unsolved problems grows longer every day. If we continue on like this, not only are we not going to have a future, but we are going to end up without a present.

This is I think too negative but sometimes I wonder if my generation will just be remembered as the last one before some global 'gaia' of collective intelligence is harnessed and we will ne talked about by future generations as those old geezers in black and white chase films from yesteryear moving really quickly but going absolutely nowhere

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Saturday, November 15, 2008 in Thoughts  | Permalink |  Comments (0)
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