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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quote for the Day


"These familiar examples [of the atomic bomb, cotton gin, steam engine] deceive us into thinking that other major inventions were also responses to perceived needs. In fact, many or most inventions were developed by people driven by curiosity or by a love tinkering, in the absence of any initial demand for the product they had in mind. Once a device had been invented, the inventor then had to find an application for it. Only after it had been in use for a considerable time did consumers come to feel that they "needed" it. Still other devices, invented to serve one purpose, eventually found most of their use for other, unanticipated purposes. It may come as a surprise to learn that these inventions in search of a use include most of the major technological breakthroughs of modern times, ranging for the airplane and automobile, through the internal combustion engine and electric light bulb, to the phonograph and transistor. Thus, invention is often the mother of necessity, rather than vice versa.[Italics mine]"

- Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel)

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