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“Necessity is the mother of invention”

I’ve never thought about it much but the saying:

“Necessity is the mother of invention”

… came back to me today.

This came back to me because I was reading an interesting description of what happened in 1815. Do you remember that year? Of course not, probably, but that was the year that an earthquake in Indonesia messed up the world. The Economist summarised what happened well:

A vast plume of dust and ash spread around the world, blocking out the sun and reducing global temperatures. In China, the cold weather killed trees, crops and water buffalo. In North America, a “dry fog” reddened the sun and there was summer snowfall in New York. Riots and looting broke out in Europe as harvests failed. Food prices soared and tens of thousands of people died from famine and disease. Horses starved or were slaughtered, as the high price of oats forced people to choose whether to feed their animals or themselves.

Back in 1815, horses were the only mode of transport. What to do?

Well, it led to the invention of the bicycle by Karl von Drais, a German inventor.

World War I saw major innovations from the creation of tanks to flamethrowers.

World War II, along with other innovations, created the computer. Leaders were worried about how to organise troops with no accurate weather forecasting, so they tasked a team to create a machine that could give them a better idea of tomorrow’s weather. The result was ENIAC, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the world’s first programmable, electronic, general-purpose digital computer.

Every crisis creates innovation, because it has to.

Crisis is often discussed as opportunity and danger (which is not what it means in Chinese)

Every major moment in history has led to massive progress and innovation, due to necessity.

“Necessity is the mother of invention”

What will 2020 invent? What will change?

Here are five predictions from yours truly.

  1. 2020 will invent a new way of communicating that feels face-to-face but is not.
  2. 2020 will invent a new way of working that is no longer dependent upon humans travelling to cities.
  3. 2020 will invent a new way of exchanging value that no longer needs any human contact.
  4. 2020 will invent a new way of seeing the world virtually without leaving home.
  5. 2020 will invent a new way of thinking that will solve our climate emergency.

These are my thoughts anyway.

Oh, and not everyone agrees that “Necessity is the mother of invention”:

“I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention — invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness.”

Agatha Christie … 2020 should be a very inventive year.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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