Posts Tagged ‘Sebastian Thrun’

Innovation – To do what cannot be done

June 19, 2012

The Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview has talked to Sebastian Thrun:

One of these ideas was for a self-driving car, not through a desert, but on the streets of San Francisco and beyond. Crazy. But Mr. Thrun and 12 engineers created a car that could drive itself down twisty Lombard Street without a human driver. How did they do that? “We should question all the rules—we should break the rules,” he says. “I like to put myself in the most uncomfortable position. There’s so much baggage we take on. Why is that so? We should have the courage to put everything overboard.” …… 

At Google X, Mr. Thrun brought in University of Washington Prof. Babak Parviz to create a set of eyeglasses that are capable of displaying Web and Google search results. Not easy—yet another cross-discipline challenge to make the device ultra lightweight and natural to use. It was announced recently as Google Glass. It works like bifocals in that you look up to see the display so your normal vision below is never blocked. “We discovered this is not some crazy moon shot, this is real. It turned out we were closer to something interesting than all of us thought.” Every geek is itching for a pair.

To be able to state that “something” cannot be done we must first be able to articulate that “something”. And to articulate it we must be able to imagine it. And when we find “it cannot be done” we can qualify it to be “it cannot be done now” — and the process of innovation starts.

I suppose I am an optimist. I am sure that tomorrow will be filled with things “we cannot do now”.  In less than 10 generations from now the current fears of global warming and the mass extinction of species and of unsustainable populations and of resource exhaustion will be seen on a par with primitive peoples fearing that the moon was being swallowed up during an eclipse. And 10 generation from now they will have found new things to fear and new things that cannot be done.

There are things we don’t know we don’t know.
Donald Rumsfeld

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