In a World of Ideas
Dean Kamen just may be the most creative individual living today.
Instead, I’m going to point you to Kamen’s commencement speech at Bates College just last month. In his address, he explains to these newly minted graduates that the world has undergone a profound change. Up until now, all of human history had been about acquiring physical things…to the detriment of your neighbor. According to Kamen, the world is no longer a zero-sum place.
Here’s a key excerpt:
We’re moving from a world of stuff; from the idea that there’s a finite amount of gold out there, a finite amount of almost anything out there. Throughout all of history, people fought over stuff: land, fuel, stuff. But in your generation, most value that will be created isn’t stuff anymore. It really is ideas. The Internet is an abstraction, and the value of Google exceeds the value of all the car makers. In a world that’s about ideas, it’s not a zero-sum game. You don’t have to win by someone else losing, where you have the gold or oil or water, and somebody else doesn’t.
In a world of ideas, you all create and share those ideas and everybody has more ideas in the end, whether it’s a cure for cancer, or a way to make water drinkable, or a way to make energy that’s non-polluting. And whether you like it or not, you are moving for the first time into a world where ideas matter more than all the stuff there is. But those ideas have to come from educated people and they have to be used as a tool and not as a weapon. That’s the biggest change that’s happening.
We’re also facing a world where finally people are realizing we’re all going to succeed together. In this world where it’s not a zero-sum game, where four billion more people creating new ideas will make us all richer, not compete with us to make us all poorer, the leadership of the educated will help the rest. It is a world where ideas matter, where the educated people can lead and help and be cheerleaders for everybody else instead of being competitors. It’s a world where the rate of change for the positive could exceed anything you can imagine.
You can read the whole speech here. Inspiring.
By the way, beyond his creative brilliance, Kamen shares a commonality with Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Frank Lloyd Wright, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates.
Yep, all college dropouts.
Post via Bad Banana
Also suggested: The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida