Looking Back at the "Best Inventions" of 2017
December 30, 2017 - Christmas has come and gone and my inner Scrooge has been let out of the closet to consider Time Magazine's list of the Best 25 Inventions of 2017. With an eye as hard and cold as the weather forecast for tomorrow night's New Year's Eve in New England, I look at that list and see bupkis. Nothing. Well, that's not totally true; the e-sight glasses for the legally blind look genuinely amazing and the Vicis Zero1 helmet may save the game of football. But a do-nothing robot, low cost Tesla and Stevia-sweetened ice cream, to name three of the more meritless entries, look like they earned their place by virtue of paid product placement. Print journalism is in trouble and desperate for dollars, so maybe that's the explanation. But maybe, just maybe the lame excuses for innovation circa 2017 presented by Time's editors really are the best of this past year. I have a theory for that.
History buffs know that the beginning of WW2, marked by the invasion of Poland in September 1939, was followed by a period of quiet that lasted for nine months. That period was known as the Phony War and ended when Germany invaded Holland, Belgium and France. The Battle of Britain followed and the war was on. Pearl Harbor came much later and then WW2 really became a world war. In August 1945, after the last bombs had dropped, the geopolitical world was completely different.
Innovation today is in a period like the Phony War. On the surface things are quiet. But underneath, innovations in electronics, biology and nanotechnology are advancing quantumly and within just two or three decades may even lead to us to redefine the meaning of life itself.
In the meantime, let's enjoy the quiet. When the real war of innovation begins, it's going to change everything.
Bring on 2018.
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