Big Creativity and Innovation

Sometimes knowledge keeps us from making groundbreaking discoveries


Useful divergent thinking is often the result of not knowing any of the constraints about “the box”. It’s easier to think outside the box when you don’t know that it exists or where that box is. That’s the reason why visions of the future often come from sci-fi writers that have no concepts of the limits of technology or physics. We eventually find a way to work around those limits anyway—and the rules of physics that we have created are a mere construction of our current understanding of reality. A very useful mirror of the world, but our understanding of the world could also change in an instant.

Without scifi novels, movies, and dreams of utopia I don’t believe that we would live in a world as good as the one we live in today. We need dreamers as much as we need the scientists who only think with the current scientific constraints that we have modeled of the world. We need them together working on projects in small teams. If the project is too big for a team of 35-50 people then we need to break down the problem into modular components so that each team can be able to build their system without any contact from the other teams.

The goal of innovation should be to do one or more of the following with equal or lower cost than any current competitive product or idea:

  • increase readability (by quantity or quality—distance or distinction)

    • (increase communication between people)

  • increase accessibility (for the average or for a specific type of person)

    • (increase interaction / social / political / network strength or type)

  • decrease stress / waste (by quantity or quality—environmental or psychological)

    • increase durability (duration or a condition)

    • “waste of time” is a psychological stress but if you view the non-infinite resources in the universe as needing to be built into something before the great thermal equilibrium then yeah time can be wasted

Innovation should always include some amount of cost reduction on the whole or it needs to justify its added cost with at least 5x added value.

The biggest factor for Xerox PARC to invent so much of our everyday world is because they were imagining: they were looking for the everyday future. They thought about how computers would allow for a change in education, especially self-learning and research—how computers would change information discovery.

The problem is a lot of people have not learned how to imagine—or how to bridge the gap of sci-fi with the real world. Rather than consciously looking for ways to improve the process of bringing the computer into our world we’re stuck using the exact same methods that they imagined in 1968. Human-Computer Interaction could be much better, but we need to imagine something beyond keyboards, single-cursor mice, touchscreens, and touchpads.

Everybody seems to have forgotten Project Soli in the past three years. It takes a lot of work to get a piece of hardware to become mainstream but once it becomes standard it takes a lot of work to replace it.

Hopefully we can bring the right people together to dream big like we used to before we forget how