Can the perspectives which give more weight to the potential of products than creators, which see ‘human mind’ as some predictable and hackable animal, which assume that silicon chips will soon make the human intellect more insignificant and often claim that all capabilities of the humanity can be stored inside the data centers, would ever be able to understand the human creativity and its power of imagination in the true sense? The growing intervention of computer technology in human life is real but considering this phase and its milestones as the final stride of human creativity is neither justifiable nor desirable for future growth. Observing the events of the current phase in the light of thousands of years of history of civilizations may reveal that the best phase of creativity and innovation is yet to come.
Western ideas on creativity, innovation, and global growth (which dominated the modern world for a good period) are losing their relevance. Some discussions and introspection are certainly going on but instead of recognizing this stagnation, the desire to label this shift as ‘global’ is more prevalent. In the restless attempts of tagging their innovative ideas as the ultimate product of human creativity and their regular products as the highest expression of human imagination, players of the past have completely failed to take account of the basic aspects of the ‘human mind’ and aspirations.
Technology as a sector has undergone some interesting changes too. Computing is no more just computing it is now ‘Quantum supremacy’ and its propagators are not technologists anymore, in the last few years they have changed their titles many times, from Tech Guru to Tech Evangelist to Tech Prophets. When an idea makes a desperate attempt to declare itself as supreme, and if others also joined in that, then it is often seen as an indication of it nearing to an end. Some of these tech prophets and modern historians cum philosophers are now propagating the idea of hackable humans, telling the ways to ‘survive in the 21st century’ and preaching (some 21 lessons for the 21st century) to tackle this technological tsunami and weave of tech disruption, to the world. Somewhere these attempts reveal their lack of understanding about human intellect and creativity. They have limited their perspectives to see Human as an animal (from political, to economic to technological angles), studied the progress of the human civilization with the Darwinian mindset of ‘survival of the fittest’ and the law of the jungle and it appears that philosophically they are still very much on that. They may have successfully programmed the artificial intelligence capabilities but the potential of human intelligence remained an unexplored region for them.
On the other hand, China’s remarkable rise, which is often discussed as one of the major events of the present century, exposes the limits of the Western models/approach too. It is interesting to note how a communist and third world country has surpassed the entire West in their concepts of human creativity, innovation, and growth, at a pace and scale which no one anticipated. China, whose trade growth was earlier called Potemkin, whose products were labeled as counterfeits, from where only the news of social disturbances used to make the headlines, and whose every success was called the product of government subsidies/backup, is now dominating the themes of international forums (discussions in recently held Davos 2020 and Munich Security Conferences remained centered around China). Some of the most celebrated voices of capitalism from Ronald Reagan times are now thrilled with the rise of China and discussing the alternate model of Capitalism that China has presented to the world. China’s remarkable growth trajectory has proved that mimicking western ideas/models were not as unattainable, as it was propagated.
The central idea of current innovation culture (which is essentially a western led culture) is designed around the need and desire aspects of human nature. Somehow a notion has been developed that ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ and seeking solutions to the problems has been propagated as the sole mission of all creative ventures. From schools to universities to R&D labs of the tech companies, the focus is always on finding the problems/challenges around and seeking their innovative solutions. It is not a wrong idea but it is certainly incomplete and limited.
Only a problem-solving mind cannot contribute much to the world’s progress. Many societies in the world have impressively tackled their desires but their contribution to global growth is only shrinking with time and today they have nothing impressive to offer to the world.
Historical evidences of human creativity suggests that those societies have made phenomenal and all-round progress which have given more value to promoting the power of knowledge-based innovation culture. ‘Necessity driven innovation’ is the point where the current approach ends, to move forward from this stagnation, the Indian perspective and the best is ‘yet to come’ approach can help.
Indian culture has an integrated viewpoint and it reflects in all its core ideas. Indian approach says that Body, Mind, Intelligence, and Soul, are the different aspects of an individual and all these aspects represent an integrated human being. So the progress of man means the progress of the body, mind, intellect, and soul of man, all together. Imagine what could be the scale of human efforts when knowledge, creativity, and power of imagination are channelized with such perspective. There was never a time in the history of the ‘Golden Age’ of Indian civilization when it made necessities the basis of innovations. Many magnificent historical assets of that period still exist and they tell that Human Creativity is unpredictable, boundless and constructive.
A glimpse of Ancient India’s gigantic monuments, technical and scientific theories, advanced mathematics, sophisticated war techniques and weaponry systems, social-economic literature, ancient scriptures including Ramayana, Mahabharata, Gita, Vedas, Puranas, and Upanishads, gives this idea that the power of imagination was at its peak when we had given more value to knowledge and creativity. And such phases exist in other ancient civilizations too. Jewish history is also filled with such remarkable examples of the human mind and spirit.
Can we imagine our future generations to forget this history of human creativity and continue to develop some routine tech products for the elites of the world? And to channelize their creative abilities around the success of sustainable development goals alone? Our future should be as glorious as our past and for that, we shall start nourishing a culture where human imagination can be aligned with magnificent purposes.