Monday, November 19, 2012

Applying Clarke's Law to the Present Age (a Quick Tip to Foster Innovation)

Arthur C. Clarke
Cover of Arthur C. Clarke
The British writer Arthur C. Clarke formulated three laws of prediction and, undoubtedly, these can be easily transformed to tips and tricks to foster innovation, but let's start with the rules:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. 
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. 
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I pretty much like all the laws, but I'm amazed by the 1st of them. Funny at first sight, if you scratch the surface there's something enlightening. I won't argue that youngsters are smarter than adults, that's not always the case and it would be an over-generalization.  The problem is that, once your mind gets used to see things in a certain way, changing that habit becomes difficult. In other words, if you think as you've always done, you can interpret the old days and read your present with confidence, but see the future as a reflection of past times.

I'm not sure if I can change how neurotransmission works in my brain, but I'll not raise a red flag every time my experience tells me that something is impossible. I'll also try to change the lens I see the world trough and consider thoroughly all the options before making any conclusion. Time travel anyone? ;)

Disclaimer: I've drawn the inspiration to write this post from Daniel Gilbert's "Stumbling on Happiness". If you want to read an well-written book on how the human mind works and how we tend to predict and like our future, that's a great starting point.
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