The Great Subtraction
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The Great Subtraction
Perhaps we've added all the big inventions we can easily add. So much of the innovation out there is trivial and ephemeral. Perhaps the best innovation available is removing the need for previous inventions.
Curated by Jon Teets
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The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel

The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel | The Great Subtraction | Scoop.it
Why did it take so long to invent the wheelbarrow? Have we hit peak innovation? What our list reveals about imagination, optimism, and the nature of progress.
Jon Teets's insight:

I contend in this curated set that the greatest innovations ahead of us will not be additions to the massive toolchest we've assembled and which are showing diminishing returns, but inventions which will remove the need for these tools.  

While I expect the invention of gadgets evolutionarily or revolutionary better than those that already exist and so result in their obsolescence,  and many of these may even render redundant tools we've used for centuries and the ecosystems that have built up around them, I think the best innovations will involve no gadgetry at all in anything other than their incipient state.  They will result in changes to ourselves which will change the structure of our needs.  

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MIT Wristband Could Make AC Obsolete | Wired Design | Wired.com

MIT Wristband Could Make AC Obsolete | Wired Design | Wired.com | The Great Subtraction | Scoop.it
A team of students at MIT is working on a prototype wearable that asks one important question: Why heat or cool a building when you could heat or cool a person?
Jon Teets's insight:

We use a lot of energy on A/C.  What if we didn't need to?  

This is just a first crack at it, fooling us into thinking we feel ok. Provided it works and the downsides aren't dangerous (or worse, unmarketable!), it's a good step in the right direction.  

Ultimately, though, it'd be better if we really could live in extreme environments without needing all our tools -- clothes, fires, shelter and the like.   Homelessness is a problem, but only because we need shelter to survive.  What if we didn't?   

I can think of a few things.  No junk mail.  No need for an address, and all the things that represents. No rent.   No mortgages, downpayments, insurance deductions,  or property taxes.  No housing crisis.   No Joneses to keep up with, unless we're being chased by bears.  

If you don't need a house and the stuff in it, then you don't need the kind of job that's required to pay for all of it.   That leaves clothes and food and health care and entertainment and retirement to save for.  Anyway, sounds like a good start.  Then we can get to work on the others.  

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