Well, well…Of course with the revenues that Google generates from advertising, they would say that wouldn’t they. Yet, if you look back into history, what you will find is considerable evidence that a lot of good ideas have been commercially successful on the back of improvement of what was already known. In other words “Good writers borrow. Great writers steal” Oscar Wilde. Or if you are to believe Picasso ” Good artist imitate, Great artist steal”
This got me thinking. Realistically, in view of the old age saying that there is nothing new under the sun, and while the human race appears to have a competitive gene somewhere in our genetic make-up, how fine is the line between innovation and imitation? And how far can one cross that line before they get into trouble with the authorities?
A few examples below illustrate my thinking:-
What was it about Thomas Newcomen that took what was known about steam powered engines from the writings / descriptions of scientists / inventors such as Taqi al-Din (1551) , Giovanni Branca (1629) , Denis Papin (1679) and Thomas Savery(1698), to come up with a water pump that paved way for the industrial revolution that saw Britian become a great power?
140 years later, its still happening. We have Microsoft, and a bunch of others who, it must be said are technology giants that have transformed our way of life, whether we like them or not. Also, while its a fact that IBM had their first smartphone in 1992 [called Simon] – I wonder what lanky Simon would think of the name-, yet its only recently that the iPhone has revolutionized the industry. Next in, tablet computing … one can only wonder what is next. With such innovation also comes litigation. It seems the two words are brotherly, no wonder they somewhat sound similar.
But putting aside the squabbling, if like me, you enjoy reading gizmag, suddenly the world of magical carpets and hovering cars begins to look real[seriously, wouldn’t it be cool that each time you were stuck in a”traffic jam” when the wife rang, you simply pressed a button and your machine hovered its way home?] . I hope I’m still alive when those days arrive, and looking at the spectacular developments of the last 100 years, I’m an optimist to think such is infact within the bounds of possibility [remember that less than 150 years ago, some US general once thought radio would deprive mankind of vocal cords]. Wait a minute, just a sec, my iPhone is ringing…
“Hie honey, how are you?”
“I’m good, how’s your day been?”
“Great, cooked you something lovely [ pause] but when will you be home?”
“Uuum, err, I’m in a traffic Jam now, so maybe 20 minutes away.”
“Ok, drive safe, see you later”
Ok, here goes the trick, the road is not clear, but is the sky clear?
A resounding yes. Press the red button and we should be home in 5 or so minutes.
Seriously, if we have developed, discovered and invented [ in no particular order] solar power, jet engines, aluminum/ carbon fibre, parachutes, radar, sound and other radio sensors, the internet, and repealed countless of laws that b4 sounded sensible, I don’t understand why we cant develop a personal flying device that communicates with other flying devices. [ok, just one admission, we have to perfect automated parallel parking and automated emergency braking, although you would expect that after their previous embarrassing glitches, at least Volvo [apparently BMW were working on a similar technology] should be taking this pretty seriously]
I hear one saying its dangerous?
Well, driving and cycling was once considered lethal.
How will we police it?
We’ll bang in the police to use the same devices to ensure users abide by the law.
It will encourage terrorism.
Not exactly, if these things are made to talk to each other, then we can embed a system within them that says: “Thou shalt not, under any circumstance bash into thy fellow self, Or a car, or a house, or any other structure, big small, moving or stationary. Thou shalt maintain a certain distance with other hovering devices, while in the air”
And if such a mechanism is somehow overridden, “thou shall forthwith send a message to the Sheriff’s HQ”.
And if that is ignored, “thou shall refuse to start.”
And if that is overridden, “thou shall warn the tinkerer to abandon all tinkering.”
If that is still ignored, and if by then the Sheriff, car manufacturer, etc, has not arrived to stop the tinkerer, thou shall self destruct!!
Any smart assed plonker who decides to meddle with the thing, will be committing suicide.