I recently lamented the lag in innovation in relation to the speed of technological advancements — do we really need a connected toaster that will sell itself if neglected? Subsequently, I had a conversation with Josh Clark that made me rethink that position; Clark pointed out that play is an important aspect of innovation, and that such whimsical creations as drum pants could ultimately lead to more profound innovations.
In the first segment of this podcast episode, Tim O’Reilly and Autodesk CEO Carl Bass have a wide-ranging discussion about the future of making things. Bass notes that innovation tends to start by “looking at the rear window”:
“The first naïve response is to take a new technology and do the old thing with it. It takes a while until you can start reimagining things…the first thing that you need is this new tool set in software, hardware, and materials, but the more important thing — and the more difficult thing, obviously — is a new mind-set. How are you going to think about this problem differently? How are you going to reimagine what you can do? That’s the exciting part.”
Emphasizing the need for a new mind-set — and perhaps pointing to the importance of play — O’Reilly noted a conversation he’d had with Maker Media CEO and Make Magazine founder Dale Dougherty:
“[Dougherty] said the thing that was so exciting about kids and 3D printers, as opposed to adults and 3D printers, was that adults want to make stuff that they’ve made before, where kids want to make things that they’ve never seen before.”
O’Reilly and Bass also discuss innovations in tooling for bioengineering and the significant role rapid physical prototyping will play in manufacturing. In the second segment, Google X’s Astro Teller talks about new projects in his group and the importance of addressing the world’s physical problems with physical solutions. You can download or listen to the podcast in the SoundCloud player at the top of this post.