Innovation Where You Least Expect It
Question: How will we control for the high level of design quality that you say is necessary in the future?
Geoff Wardle: Well, I think a lot of it comes down to making sure that we really are designing to solve problems that need solving. Over the span of my career, the word “design” has gone from being a word that most people don’t really understand, to a word that most people think they understand, but sometimes it’s misrepresented. Design and styling are sometimes interchanged a little. And I think with design, it’s very much an onus of the design community to make sure that we are in the general conversation about what needs to be done in the bigger picture. That we need to be working honestly with ourselves and with other people about what it is that we are designing for, how we go about it, and at the same time, we need to think on a much bigger scale. I talk about it a lot, but the world is getting more and more complex as the days go by, as the years go by. As designers, we have to become systems thinkers all of the time. That’s extremely important. And so everything we do has to be an honest statement of what really needs to be done.
Question: What are some examples of excellent design advancements in the transportation realm?
Geoff Wardle: In the field of transportation design I don’t see any step changes coming along at the moment. Everybody is working very hard to make useful incremental changes. So, we have vehicle manufacturers and train manufacturers and aircraft manufacturers who are trying to make vehicles lighter and more energy efficient. We have people working on figuring out new ways of manufacturing that require, or result I should say, in less toxic waste stream into the environment, looking at renewable materials which can be used time and time again through recycling. We see a lot of effort to use less oil or gasoline in our internal combustion engines.
Games changers. Project Better Place; Shai Agassi’s Project Better Place is kind of interesting. Somebody really putting their head on the block with an idea for helping the emergence of battery electric vehicles which is building up quite a lot of momentum now and support from one or two vehicle companies. That could be a game changer.
I think the real game changers will come from technologies that are being developed for other kinds of outcomes in industries that will create unprecedented and unintended consequences which could help the transportation landscape. I’ll mention again, the game changes that we see in mobile communication, that’s very exciting and a lot of that can really displace some of the need to move ourselves around a lot of the time. So, I think the main game change for transportation is going to come unexpectedly from areas that we’re not thinking about.
Meanwhile, I think the biggest game changer has to be the way we all think about the way we move ourselves and goods around and we’ve got to get different – people need to understand actually, the unsustainability of what we are doing at the moment. We’re so used to our environment around us. We’re so used to the way we do things. We’re so used to our living patterns that it’s very difficult for us to question the absurdity of it all, which is why I like to go out 100 or 200 years into the future sometimes and kind of look back through those retro binoculars and think, my god how did we get away with doing that? And I think that that’s our real challenge as designers. We have to think on a systems basis, but we have to help all the different constituents to see that there can be not only a better, sustainable way of doing things, particularly in transportation, but will actually be much more fun and desirable than how we do it already.
Recorded on February 4, 2010
Game changers that we see in mobile communication can really displace some of the need to move ourselves around.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.
The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.
- When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
- When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
- Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.