Many people think that science will eventually be able to explain everything that happens in nature, and that technology will be able to reproduce it. Perhaps that is so, but even then, that day lies far into the future. Probably a more likely scenario is that the further science and technology advance, the deeper the mysteries of the world will grow. Even with topics that we believe science has solved for good, when you take a closer look, you'll find that plenty of problems have slipped through the cracks or been swept under the carpet. Furthermore, these are often the issues that are closest to us and most important in our daily lives. Take hunches or intuitions or premonitions, for example. They may have rational-sounding explanations, but our gut feelings tell us something is not quite right after all. Such examples are not at all uncommon. When you think about it, there are lots of things that modern civilization has forgotten all about. Maybe the time has come to stop for a moment and try to remember. The seeds of forthcoming science and technology are impatiently waiting to be discovered among the things we have left behind.
Neolithic stone axe. Modern humans have lost the ability to create such objects with their own hands.
Farmers at Work (1847-52) by Utagawa Sadahide. The mechanization of agriculture was already well under way.
The coffee houses that were popular in 17th-18th century England became the prototype of the present office.
New Board with Twelve Merchants. Edo period toy picture. As the hierarchy “samurai, farmers, artisans and merchants” indicate, the tertiary industry was viewed with suspicion.
Will we let machines do our work 10 years from now? Can we let machines do our work?
Intuition and emergence are unexpected phenomena. They are nothing that can be predicted in advance. Even nature itself might be called unexpected. Science and technology are established by setting boundary conditions for nature. When the boundary conditions are changed, such as when Einstein redrew our image of the universe, totally unexpected things are likely to occur as a matter of course. Science and technology are the fundaments of modern civilization. It is hard to respond even to small unexpected deviations. If the sun’s activity were to increase just a tiny bit, all our cutting-edge technology would become useless overnight. It is important to be able to imagine unexpected scenarios as well, situations that manuals and systems can’t handle.
Natural disasters aside, there is no doubt that a world where everything falls inside the frame of assumptions is also very boring. Things not going as expected, not according to plan, for better or worse, is one of the genuine pleasures of life.