Research on the line

There is a problem with invention that universities, corporations, engineers, and even scientists themselves are not talking about. In an age of instantaneous communication, there is actually a breakdown in useful rapid discourse. This is a big deal. It impedes mass scaling of the types of products that most people would want to see in the world. We need to move as quickly as we can from research and experimentation to factory implementation. We need to be as quick as Mark Zuckerberg and his small team were when they released version 1.0 of Facebook as an experiment from a dorm room. His successful prototyping and customer trials have been a powerful model for some internet companies, but for the rest of us who build photovoltaics, flexible electrons, regenerative organs, quantum computers, superior batteries, flying cars, (and in my case AI enabled microscopes) have just not done anything like this. There are likely cognitive constraints more than actual technological ones that cause individuals and institutions to miss what is literally under their fingertips; processors much faster than they can even think.

So how is it that Edison labs in new jersey 130 years ago and Page and Brin 15 years ago knew how to change the world in radically transformative ways nearly overnight, while the rest of us fail to? It is an illusion of proximity. Proximity to ideas fuels revolutions, but illusions that we are close cause stagnation. Talk alone is useless without experimentation when those conversations are at a distance from each other and the physical place where experiments can immediately result in building new products. A basement lab on an Ivy League campus with all of the broadband and Slack Channels available still leave ideas in that basement or on a cloud server in the desert.

The solution to this problem is to experiment inside and with the factory itself.

That factory can be as small as a laptop and 3D printer, or as large as a Boeing factory that is the size of a city. There needs to be a change in mentality to one where the instinct that risk is mitigated by NOT DISRUPTING production until something is revolutionary to one where something revolutionary CAN ONLY be invented by disrupting production.

Experimentation is possibly the truest of human endeavors, whether we are trying to compose using improvisation or collide sub atomic particles. Both result in the best possible outcomes. These kinds of explorations and discoveries are exciting, fulfilling, and valuable for progress because the outcomes are different than what was expected. We bridge experience, planning, and procedure in order to fail by finding something new. This happens in labs, but by the nature of a fallacy in proximity, gets lost. The counterintuitive search for success continues and is funded. This only produces the most mundane status quo. However, with the bays of processing tools and computational intelligence, that was beyond our imaginations even 20 years ago, we can experiment in real time. Not merely building only those things that we planned to build, but instead those things that we never believed we could build.

The Future lab is the factory itself where we break things and make things including our own potential.