Human ingenuity, invention and innovation resulting from the human creature’s singular ability to change their environment, for personal comfort, satisfaction and pleasure is everywhere and all around. This isn’t to say that ingenuity or invention has proven satisfactory, pleasurable or comfortable for all humans at the same time. Too often human innovation benefits a few while mostly harming a majority of people even as such outcomes may be unintentional as indicated by the following examples from Science & Nature titled “10 Useful Inventions That Went Bad” July 19, 2009.
“Fritz Haber was a Nobel Prize winning Jewish scientist who created cheap nitrogen fertilizer and also made chemical weapons for the German side in World War I. It was his creation of an insecticide mainly used as a fumigant in grain stores that was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.2 million people. His Zyklon B became the preferred method of execution in gas chambers during the Holocaust.
Richard Jordan Gatling invented the Gatling gun after he noticed the majority of dead from the American Civil War died of illness, rather than gunshots. In 1877, he wrote: “It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred – that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease would be greatly diminished.” The Gatling gun was used most successfully to expand European colonial empires by ruthlessly mowing down native tribesmen armed with primitive weapons.
Sir Marcus Laurence Elwin Oliphant was the first to discover heavy hydrogen nuclei could be made to react with each other. This fusion reaction is the basis of a hydrogen bomb. Ten years later, American scientist Edward Teller would press to use Oliphant’s discovery in order to build one. However, Oliphant did not foresee this – “We had no idea whatever that this would one day be applied to make hydrogen bombs. Our curiosity was just curiosity about the structure of the nucleus of the atom”.
The consistently popular belief as demonstrated on the current (December 2011) cover of Forbes magazine is that “Innovation Saves The World.” The magazines content is almost exclusively about how innovation can drive global business and improve the quality of life for all and yet as business minds create evermore micro-funds in developing countries, charities and companies with the intent to solve the world’s oldest problems – it hasn’t actually happened and perhaps in its increasing escalating misery the world wonders why.
As human innovation persists and fails at trying to save the world, more than a cursory consideration of the unequal application of existing technologies & innovation is needed for successful accomplishment. No debate exists as to every human’s basic needs for food clothing, shelter and health care, which by no coincidence- the lack of- are the world’s oldest problems.
Business minds who would actually save the world, or in other words, advancing humanity might begin by applying ingenuity and innovations towards the equal and free provision of basic necessities for all humans and greatly profit from an idea whose time has come to free the world from all its problems.
Applying the previously innovated Plan of the WUF can actually do what Forbes says innovation could do - save the world. Without it all we’ll have is more unintentional outcomes for the masses and a very dark history lesson.