Imagining the light bulb

Suppose the electric light bulb had not been invented yet. Which means that nobody had ever had any experience using a light bulb.

If you had asked people what they thought of such an invention, I imagine you would have gotten all sorts of vague and confused answers. For one thing, wasn’t this already a solved problem?

In the years before the invention of the light bulb, many cities had a well developed system for lighting via natural gas. There was a large infrastructure already in place to keep city streets light after the sun went down.

Yet after the light bulb had been invented, its many advantages seemed obvious. Not least of these advantages was the corresponding system of electrification.

Once electricity is running to every home, then it becomes possible to think about all sorts of electric appliances. As we now know, the cultural effect of having such appliances available in every home was utterly transformative.

What forthcoming technologies will be like the light bulb? Specifically, what inventions might seem pointless to us now in 2019, but will come to seem essential once they enter our future lives and manage to utterly transform our world?

I for one don’t want to just sit around and wait to find out. As Alan Kay said: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

2 Responses to “Imagining the light bulb”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    This is like how making phone calls is *way* down on the list of what people use smartphones for now.

  2. admin says:

    Very nice analogy! :-) :-) :-)

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