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Visions of Things to Come?

Posted by The Doctor on May 12, 2010

The 2 ‘absolutes’ in life are
(1) the only ‘constant’ in life is change and
(2) the more we learn – the less we know we know.
 

Have you ever learned of some new, obscure technology or innovation and shrugged it off, dismissed it and went on to the next distraction – only to find it biting you on the butt down the road months later when ‘everyone and his brother’ was getting rich off it – except YOU?Where were you when the USA went back onto the gold standard? I remember were I was – in the college bursar’s office with a check for US$1500 to pay my tuition. A classmate invited me to join him and invest that money in gold when it sold for US$42/ounce but I ignored him. He invested and now he’s MUCH better off because in just a few months the shiny yellow metal shot up to over US$800/ounce!I didn’t listen when opportunity knocked back then – but no more!

Maybe you’ve also made a blunder or two in YOUR past – ignoring something and are still regretting it today. We all make mistakes. The worst, though, is noticing that our actions aren’t leading to the results we’d like and repeating those actions – expecting the results to improve. The Scots have a saying which goes “Fool me once – shame on you. Fool me twice – shame on ME”  and there’s nothing more demoralizing than fooling yourself.Maybe you just didn’t realize how some innovation you saw might benefit so many people that it would create a demand (possibly a whole new market) or you didn’t understand how you could profit from that knowledge.
 
I remember sitting in the electronics lab of my college – building circuits with the typical parts you could find in any radio or TV set of the time – with one exception. These circuits also included a long, flat, black plastic piece known as a ‘microprocessor’.
 
Our instructor told us we were the first junior college class in the nation to be learning microprocessor electronics and that only one other college doing the same was part of a major engineering university (a Caltech or MIT). We quickly discovered that by moving a few wires we could make numbers/letters appear on a TV screen. Imagine that! Pictures on a TV screen with no camera! Wouldn’t this be a great idea for a typewriter we thought? You could type out everything on the screen, correct any mistakes and maybe even print it out. Might we possibly use it to do mathematics on the screen – like a calculator? Maybe we could even build a computer that fit on a desk! Little did we realize we’d, one day, be using computers that fit on our laps and in portable telephones.
 
  We wanted to know if anyone else had thought of this idea (i.e.: patentable innovation) and, as one of our classmates worked for America’s preeminant computer giant, we goaded him into submitting it through their ‘Employee Suggestion Program’.  A few weeks later he brought-in the reply he’d received, from their headquarters, which read; “There is no market for such a product. Suggestion rejected”. Around the same time a student from another east coast college was tinkering with a metal box known as the ‘Altair 8080’ – making the circuitry do things by following a pre-planned set of instructions (a ‘program’). He and his friends saw something most people didn’t – that computers could be made sufficiently affordable for many more people than just large corporations and governments. They dropped out of college and began their own company. Of course we all had the naysayers denouncing our efforts with “Whatta you expect people to do with that thing – store recipes?” Thankfully that college drop-out stuck to his belief or none of us would be reading this now – for that drop-out was none other than Bill Gates – co-founder and CEO of Microsoft. Thankfully Bill had better vision than the bean counters who were running the computer giant at the time.  

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day – TEACH a man to fish and you feed him for life” 

A few years ago a computer entrepreneur in India set-out a PC in Delhi as part of an experiment. Children, who typically were illiterate, living and begging in the streets, were discovered to be using the PC – teaching themselves and others how to use it – even surfing The Net and downloading files! The thirst for education and the motivation to learn were extremely evident and a new ‘market’ for this technology was discovered. Perhaps ‘street ruffians’, the likes of Fagan and his followers, might not seem an ideal customer base but consider the possibilities. One or more of these children may someday be creating the programs for your new computer, preparing your tax return or examining your medical images. 

 If the millions of poor children, born each year on this planet, were continued to be denied education – some unscrupulous persons might organize them into a force capable of bringing down civilization and returning the plant’s population to the ‘Dark Ages’. Heaven knows ignorance has bred enough distrust and violence throughout recorded history.  

By having the means to educate themselves; people are less likely to remain in poverty, susceptible to disease and famine. Denied education they’re more likely to resort to violence to take what they want/need. While this may set the stage for arms manufacturers’ high profits – you need to ask yourself – how do you want to be remembered? MIT and some of its partners have hit on a plan to bring education to the masses of poor – through the distribution of portable computers which are powered by an integrated hand-cranked electric generator. If this concept seems familiar you may be remembering the work of Trevor Bayliss. His hand-cranked shortwave radio has enabled people throughout the world to listen and learn (through radio programs) HIV/AIDS education, better farming techniques, weather outlooks and more. Later versions even included battery powered lights (recharged by the crank) so they needn’t burn so much wood or petrol for lighting – reducing erosion, desertification, atmospheric carbon dioxide and, quite possibly, ‘global warming’.Use this forum to post your own technology innovations, reviews of others’ technological innovations/inventions, developments, their potential and how we all can best profit from them. If you know of a new technology/innovation you believe will improve lives AND provide a means to profit through its development/marketing – submit your review for all to see.

 Whenever possible include investment & contact information for the owner of the technology/innovation to enable others to invest in the venture to aid in its successful implementation AND for our maximum financial gain.  (No ‘American Inventor’ style novelties please.)    

 

You never can tell where or when inspiration for innovation will strike. That’s why it’s best to keep an open mind. Even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity , accepted as ‘gospel’ by many for decades (mostly those who didn’t understand it but wanted to appear more intelligent than the others), has been disproved – or HAS it?

Stay tuned kids.

We’ll be back with more after these brief commercial messages.

 
 
 
 

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