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.
Ancient Chinese compass vehicle. The machine always pointed south, and “pointing south” became an idiomatic expression meaning “teach.”
Lecture scene from the University of Bologna. Founded in the 1350s, it is one of the oldest universities in the world.
New Year’s Calligraphy at the Temple School by Utagawa Toyokuni, 1805. The literacy rate among the common people in Edo was reportedly the highest in the world.
Bible lecture on board the Beagle, the ship on which Darwin sailed.
If we could feed information directly to the brain, learning would become easier. But would it really be learning?
The world has become dramatically more convenient over the past 100 years. Once we get used to a new convenience, we are unable to return to the old inconvenient state of things, even if we wanted to. That’s the way humans are. But every time we get our hands on a practical new tool or system, we become a bit clumsier ourselves. We can’t even light a fire by ourselves any more, and repairing a broken smartphone by ourselves is beyond our wildest dreams. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say, but it’s hard to think of anything we really need anymore, especially in our daily lives. Every trace of inconvenience seems to have vanished from around us.
Even so, manufacturers constantly churn out new versions with new overkill functions. At the same time, humans themselves have become extremely impractical to a orresponding degree, and as a result we might not see any new breakthrough inventions for quite a while, only the computerization and IoTization of everything. Since we can’t go back to the old world, perhaps the best we can wish for is the invention of some new inconvenience.