THERE’S A great reality show on TV called Chasing Nature. Four engineering students are split into two teams and each team has to build gadgetry that will literally enable them to emulate a creature in nature. I’ve seen them try to emulate the sonar detectors of bats while flying in a harness, the tongue of a chameleon while crawling on a pole 10m above the ground, the suspension of a sloth from a bridge between two skyscrapers and, best of all, the 25km/h head-butting power of the ram.
Sometimes they’re successful, though most often not, but what I find most fascinating is how cumbersome the machinery is that gets created. You also know that with time it would be streamlined and the results would be improved, until the robot became as elegant a creation as the real thing. The modern motor car is a case in point. It can easily match the horse for elegance. (If we could only manage its cycle of use and decay better, but that will come too.)
The point is that every human creation starts out rather clunky, like computers 20 years ago, and we have the power to master and refine them until we achieve the utmost efficiency and beauty. What stops us, often, is that the first version looks so clunky. Behind this is the fear that people will laugh at us, like we were Noah, building an Ark.
Hey, maybe that’s the meaning of that story – that there’s a calling in every one of us, that when we follow it we get laughed at, but sooner or later the flood comes and the ones who do, the ones who are ready, are the ones who are smiling. Bill Gates will tell you so.
There’s a flood coming your way. I hope you’ll be ready with version 2.0 of your contraption, or your business model, whatever it is!