I’ve recently been playing with my new toy from Christmas, a MIG welder. I suit up in my gloves, jacket and welding hood with a glee in my eye. As I strike the arc with the gun I’m lost in another place as two pieces of steel melt and fuse together as one. It’s amazing! Two pieces of STEEL, METING! The heat created by the arc is near the temperature of the Sun. In my youthful jubilation I try to share my wonder with others as they shrug and move on. “The heat of the Sun!”. “Steel Melting!” They shake their head, pat me on mine and move on to important things like the next text message.
I’ve been following stories about self-driving cars. The car accelerates, brakes and turns all by itself. IT IS DRIVING! This has been coming for a while. We already have cars that parallel park themselves. This was inevitable. Now I can’t say I’m looking forward to this as I love to drive, BUT THE CARS DRIVE THEMSELVES! You know they will be safer than humans. They don’t text or talk on the phone. They don’t care what the next song is on the radio and they didn’t just break up with their boyfriends. It’s coming. This is absolutely amazing. Your car driving itself. Yet people talk about self driving cars with the same enthusiasm as they talk about the weather.
The next bold leap for man is artificial intelligence. I don’t know how far it will progress in my lifetime but it’s coming fast. I already talk to SIRI while driving my car. “Hey SIRI, Send a test message to my wife”. Siri promptly answers, repeats the message back to me and sends it. I spent a couple of hours the other night talking to a Google. “Hey Google, Did you have a nice Christmas?.” She answered me and we continued on with our conversation for thirty minutes. People seem to enjoy Siri, Google and Alexis but I hear little amazement in their voice when they talk about them. I carried on a conversation with artificial intelligence.
Last week I sat outside my office watching planes on their final approach to the airport. We are located directly in their path. I saw an airliner slowly descending as it passed over and was caught up in the fact that this huge aircraft filled with people and luggage was floating overhead. I know the science of flight, with Bernoulli’s Theorem, air pressure, lift drag, blah blah blah. But what I saw was this beautiful aircraft hanging in the sky. WOW!
My wife often tells me I am immature. It’s not an insult. It’s one of the traits she loves about me. Is immaturity a bad thing? I still see the wonder in the world and of man’s accomplishment. I look at the world with the same opened-eye wonder as those that sought to go to the moon in 1961. The world is an amazing place. My concern is fewer and fewer of us do. We come to expect everything and are amazed at nothing.
Man has inhabited the earth for about 200,000 years. They matured to what we think of as humans about 50,000 years ago and have been civilized for only about 6,000 years. Mankind is moving into maturity. We are loosing our innocence. That scares me. It is our innocence and immaturity that has driven us to such amazing accomplishments. It is those who see things with amazement that have the immaturity to dream “What If?”. If we stop looking at the world with wonder we will no longer have the inspiration to ask “WHY?” or “WHY NOT?”.
If mankind continues to mature and loses its sense of wonder we will no longer advance. When everyone takes man’s accomplishments for granted then there will no longer be dreamers to take us to the next level. When we lose our innocence, real progress will end. The NEW ideas and NEW dreams will stop.
I hope this never happens. I hope that there will always be a few that will still be amazed by their surroundings and have the courage to be immature and ask “What If”. I hope that there will always be those that dream of going to the moon even though the technology doesn’t exist. I pray that there will always be two brothers that look to the birds and wonder “What if I could fly?”.
The world is an amazing place. We have not scratched the surface of what we can accomplish, as long as there are those that see the world with amazement and ask “What If”. The dreamers. The immature that never lose their innocence when looking around them. You can become one of them. Stop right now. Think of what you are reading. Imagine me sitting in front of my lap top computer, at my dining room table, in a different place, at a different time pecking these words on a key board. They were spell check (hopefully) and formatted into this text. When I hit send they magically floated up onto a cloud to be stored for all time. As you look at your phone, tablet or computer today, you summon these words from the past. They float down from that cloud and appeared before your eyes. My rambling thoughts, shared with you across space and time, Magically. Don’t think about the science. Don’t just take it for granted. Allow your self to be amazed. The world is a wonderful place.