The Future of Ideas
Circa 1473, southwest coast of Portugal. A four year old Vasco Da Gama is playing on the beach. He runs into the water, slips and falls into it, clambers up, goes back to his original place and runs back into the water. His cheeks are flushed, and his eyes are brimming with joy. His mother is shaking her head in exasperation. This boy has an unbelievable fascination for the sea, she thinks.
He runs to his mother, hugs her tightly, points his short stubby fingers at the vast expanse of the ocean and says, “One day, I will find a way to the other side.”
Four and a half centuries later, a small diminutive Neil Armstrong rested squarely on his father’s lap and was bobbing up and down, super excited as he was the Cleveland Air Races for the first time. He pointed at the planes and blurted out in wonder in his innocuous childlike innocence, “How far?” “As far as you want it to go.”, his father said.
The Future of Civilisation is a function of the polar opposites: Hope of Better Tomorrow and Despair at an Impending but Inevitable Doom. Let us take the curious case of the Edmond Halley and the Comets. In the Middle Ages, the appearance of this dazzling fireworks in our skies were considered to portentous of great and perilous things. But for Halley, these seemingly unearthly apparitions sparked a natural curiosity that shaped the future of man’s indomitable ambitions in space travel.
In every age, there comes a watershed point of tumultuous change. Being on the wrong side of that line ultimately spells failure and oblivion. On the other hand, the cataclysmic events in human history have been primarily driven by ideas which have the following characteristics:
a) Against the general narrative:
The Greatest Ideas have always, by design, been subject to most intense rejection and ridicule. The greatest of all thinkers have always envisioned a time beyond their living years, so it is not surprising that shape them as well.
Take Ignaz Semmelweiss for instance. His findings of direct correlation between degree of hand sanitation and child mortality had an unprecedented impact on the established medical literature of the time. However, his empirical findings as a whole were rejected by the entire scientific community.
His pathbreaking discovery has had a profound impact in pre-natal healthcare today across the globe.
b) The Quality of Persistence and Indomitability:
Semmelweiss did not receive any credits for epic revelation. However, an idea can survive the onslaught of the perseverance of an obsolete belief system, even it consumes the greatest proponent of it.
Giordino Bruno was the first person in human history to make an incredulous proposition that our Universe was truly infinite and that the tiny stars in the night sky were in fact nothing but distant suns. His contradictory viewpoint, vis-à-vis the official explanation of planetary movements by the Church, ultimately resulted in his crude and horrific public execution through burning at stake.
But in that moment of abject injustice, Bruno became the greatest hero in the field of space exploration, and his sacrifice and divergent opinion fostered the future scientists to completely obliterate the very pre-existing dogma that destroyed him.
c) The Propensity to make us Wonder
An idea that changes civilisation is by no means ordinary. It goes on to affect every aspect of our seemingly mundane life. The prospect of infinite new possibilities fuelled Vasco Da Gama’s resolve to venture into uncharted waters, where all his fellow sailors had feared to tread. The vision of a smart, intelligent and technologically sound future drove the founders of Apple to come up with the Mackintosh, even though it seemed improbable at the time that a new venture started by inexperienced college dropouts can seemingly enter and go on to dominate the IBM — monopolised computer manufacturing industry of that era.
Under collective ethos of such brilliant and path breaking discoveries and inventions, The Ultimate Startup Championship intends to pit the greatest technological advances of today from across the world against each other, to find those who shall shape our worlds and lives to come, including our own and our children.