What percentage of your day do you actively think about what could be? For most of us, it’s a low percentage. But what if we all spent serious time thinking about it and sharing our ideas?
Everyone I know wishes they had invested in Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. Yet few did, even after these companies were clearly game-changers. Even fewer spent time dreaming up disruptive shopping markets, personal computers, search engines or universal people connectors. We point to our superstar innovators — Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. — and repeat their names endlessly. Yet we don’t replicate their actions. We don’t spend much time thinking about what could be.
Many of us know dreamers. We see creative kids and recognize inventiveness in others (and, occasionally, in ourselves). What if we could harness such thoughts as they happen? What if we trained ourselves from an early age to foster creativity and innovation? And what if we had the tools to capture these thoughts and share them productively?
What if the news feeds or channels we watch were also future news? What if we streamed shows that were not just reality TV or violent fantasy worlds, but structured speculation forums and brainstorm sessions that were actually interactive? What if TV series were actually serial explorations of novel forms of relationships, of product design and development, of anything we currently find intriguing, but not yet enlightening?
What if video games actually recorded each player’s solutions to problems and aggregated them into a catalogue of applications for real-world problems? What if all the gamers in the world pooled their insights and displayed them in real-time for others to build upon?
What if we really do destroy our ability to live on this planet? What solutions are at hand? Can we move under the sea? Should we all spend some time working on the problems of undersea habitats so we can have at least one realistic option for population survival?
What kind of training do we need to turn dreams into realities, to move idle time to productive time, to be able to contribute to our world every day? What tools can we create to capture those thoughts and integrate them into our playbook of life?
And it’s not just about tackling problems with new solutions. It’s about all the activities that enhance the quality of life. What if our musings, drawings, doodlings, secret signing and humming were actualized? How could we express our inner artists and collectively benefit? How could “wasted creative time” become productive?
Surely, we won’t all be carrying around our glass-encased, finger-driven, cloud-connected super computers for much longer. Our faces will be recognized by our intelligent surroundings, and our inquiries and wishes activated by both our speech and our projected thoughts.
We are entering an age when the time from idea conception to activation will be measured in nanoseconds. So shouldn’t we start thinking about thinking?
Dr. Kevin R. Stone is an orthopedic surgeon at The Stone Clinic and chairman of the Stone Research Foundation in San Francisco.