Learn to Ride it Forwards

Technology compared with a bike.

Credit to Kitty Kilian for invoking the conversation, combined with the one-time experience of finding a bike as a kid, and another learning to ride a bike backwards, and many other things that inspired these thoughts:

Imagine for a minute that technology was a bike we found as a group of kids who had only ever seen someone riding it from a distance.

Would we try to learn to ride it? Of course we would.

Would we start with the correct wheel at the front? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Fifty-fifty chance really. It would more likely depend on the view of whichever kid was most dominant in the group, who would probably not be the smartest.

Those of us who’ve been crazy enough, and determined enough to try to learn how to ride a bike backwards know that it is possible, but not easy. With enough practice it becomes do-able, but is far more hazardous. We have many accidents, and we get to go nowhere near as fast, always having to look over one shoulder or the other to see where we are going.

That dominant kid in the group might forbid us from ever trying to ride the bike forwards just because he can.

No-one would ever question it, if that was the only way any we ever learned to do it. All of us, cycling backwards would seem completely normal.

We would have many accidents, perhaps ending with a fatal one, riding it backwards and never knowing the benefits we might have had by re-learning how to ride it forwards.

Could technology be such a bike, and we’ve been riding it backwards all along?

It seems absolutely not, if you consider riding it backwards as being for profit. It got us to where we are, didn’t it? You are doing OK. What more do you want?

Well, from technology, if we were riding it correctly, it might have been nice to have had a cure for cancer by now. And to have no pollution. And no wars. And unlimited free energy from the sun. No world hunger or poverty. And to be travelling to the stars. Just a few things. Shall I keep listing?

Would we have achieved those things by now if we were riding it the other way round, not for profit? Maybe, maybe not.

Will we achieve those things in the future?

Doesn’t thinking about how it currently works, and how it should work make you wonder?

We’ve tried it the other way for long enough, with so far no fatal accidents.

Let’s try it the other way round before it is too late.

Let’s try riding it forwards.

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