The Age of Imagination

imagination_gone_wild_by_breakfaceart

What if anything you could think of could be created out of thin air? What if the product of your childlike imagination would become a reality in a few short months, possibly less? What if I told you that we’re already mostly there?

The last century, especially the last few decades, has seen a veritable explosion in technological progress. Before, in the old school days, you had to keep your wild imagination in check. Think of something awesome? Too bad, it’s probably not happening. If all you’ve got are basic tools, farm animals, and maybe some metals, or even if you had an industrial-age factory, you’d be much better off starting with the limitations of your tools and then trying to come up with creative uses for them. Now, because of the internet, 3D printing, mobile devices, and blockchain technology, the real challenge is thinking up a new “what if” and only later looking into the technological means. It’s no longer about finding out what’s possible, but what would be awesome.

Want all your thoughts and opinions instantly broadcast so anyone in the world can see them? Twitter lets you do that. Want to be able to send money to anyone in the world in any small amount, all without any involvement from a bank or government? Bam, Bitcoin. Want something like Bitcoin but with way more of it and a picture of a dog? Dogecoin. Want to give people temporary windows into your life, enhanced by your own thoughts and feelings? Snapchat does the trick. Want to make just about any object? Just have a 3D printer spit one out. See a recipe, workout routine, great piece of clothing, or advice article? With Pinterest you can collect it for later, and let all your friends see it too.

But these playful bits of imagination have allowed the creation of very serious projects to solve the world’s greatest problems. Take Ethereum, which allows for the creation of smart contracts, potentially replacing every antiquated governmental record-keeping system. Cell 411 took the idea of emergency dispatching and put it in the hands of everyone, completely cutting out the need for a governmental dispatch service (and handily outclassing its response times). Bitnation solves the problem of millions of undocumented people worldwide by cutting through government red tape and using a blockchain-based system to establish identity. Uber, once the cutting-edge app that eliminated the need for taxi companies, is now itself being outclassed by newer, learner, and more decentralized competitors. Soon, driverless vehicles will eliminate the need for vehicular ownership entirely. Medical advancements alone could take up several more articles.

The technology is already there to do basically whatever we want. All that lacks is imagination. The missing link isn’t the means to make something happen, but the vision to see a completed world-changing system before it exists. Progress is now art. As a composer hears the patchwork of harmonies in his head before ever writing them down and a painter sees all the colors of his masterpiece before putting paint to canvas, so the modern entrepreneur crafts a vision for a better tomorrow before all the pieces fall into place, now with almost no restrictions on whether or not that dream is possible.

The dreamers of the past had a rough time in life, failing time and again to focus their vision into a realistic goal for their current reality, often living their entire lifespan without any appreciable result to their dreams. Now, with technology at a place of almost unbelievable potential, it’s difficult to restrain human progress past the limitations of our own minds. It’s the dreamer’s time to shine.

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.