Do you know how to make a computer mouse? I guess you don’t. Matt Riley thinks nobody knows, following Leonard Read’s argument in “I pencil”. He also thinks it doesn’t matter indeed, because our collective brain allows us to go beyond the capacity of the human mind to an extraordinary degree (emphasis mine):
We’ve gone beyond the capacity of the human mind to an extraordinary degree. And by the way, that’s one of the reasons that I’m not interested in the debate about I.Q., about whether some groups have higher I.Q.s than other groups. It’s completely irrelevant. What’s relevant to a society is how well people are communicating their ideas, and how well they’re cooperating, not how clever the individuals are. So we’ve created something called the collective brain. We’re just the nodes in the network. We’re the neurons in this brain. It’s the interchange of ideas, the meeting and mating of ideas between them, that is causing technological progress, incrementally, bit by bit. However, bad things happen. And in the future, as we go forward, we will, of course, experience terrible things. There will be wars; there will be depressions; there will be natural disasters. Awful things will happen in this century, I’m absolutely sure. But I’m also sure that, because of the connections people are making, and the ability of ideas to meet and to mate as never before, I’m also sure that technology will advance, and therefore living standards will advance. Because through the cloud, through crowd sourcing, through the bottom-up world that we’ve created, where not just the elites but everybody is able to have their ideas and make them meet and mate, we are surely accelerating the rate of innovation. (Matt Riley, “When Ideas Have Sex”)
Let’s be clear: Matt Riley describes himself as a Rational Optimist.
Featured Image: Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of computer mouse. He applied for a patent in 1967 and received it in 1970, for the wooden shell with two metal wheels (computer mouse – U.S. Patent 3,541,541)