Innovation; Driving Dreams and the Economy in the 21st Century

Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein’s once said, “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.”   What Einstein was saying is that creativity cannot come without a considerable amount of downtime.  Ideas form both organically and naturally as we let our brain mull over thoughts and dreams. Comedian and actor John Cleese, known for his work on the comedic social commentary and philosophical Monty Python TV series and subsequent films, points to this concept in a speech he made in the 1980s (old I know, but still good!) at a video arts SMI event. Cleese makes the argument for creativity, saying that telling people how to be creative is far easier than being creative and he explains that for one to be creative one must give themselves time to sit alone in a quiet environment on a daily basis. But what is the point of all this creativity you may ask.  Progress in government, the birth of new styles in art, advancements in science and space exploration, the modernization of technological and environmental norms that we have become comfortable with – this is the point and importance of creativity. “We stand at the very threshold of a new age of scientific exploration, one that will give us a deeper understanding of our planet and allow us to improve the quality of people’s lives worldwide. Today, advances in science and engineering and technological change are the driving forces of economic growth.” Rita R. Colwell director of the National Science Foundation wrote in 2002 for The Association for Psychological Science. To add to Cleese and Einstein’s thoughts, innovation requires four other essentials; trial and error, desire, materials and funding.  According to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), a government division created in 1997 that “strives to build our nation’s capacity to undertake world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians and the global community”, the Government of Canada allocated $500 million in the 2012 budget to the CFI. “Starting in 2014-15, this funding will support investments in leading-edge research infrastructure, including the College-Industry Innovation Fund.” This is an encouraging step, as it seems Canada values the importance of innovation.  However, with the knowledge that the United States and China pour up to and over hundreds of billions of dollars in to their research and development (reportedly the US spent $398 billion on research and development in 2008) it shows Canada has a long way to go. The talented creative thinkers and engineers of the 21st century are producing a series of new technologies that have the potential to revolutionize the way we make energy, navigate missions in space, communicate and conduct business. A few examples include the remote controlled morphing robot named Hexapod that can roll and walk  (I can see this robot moving around unpredictable planets, asteroids or maybe even in deep waters) and the helium-filled floating wind turbine that creates more energy output than conventional wind turbines while being lightweight and relatively easy to transport. These innovative products are not self-serving and not made in vain.  These are technologies that will drive and change our future, even create a new wave of jobs for a hungry workforce. So next time you find yourself twiddling your thumbs when you think you should be working, take a moment, let the thoughts flow and remember just like John Cleese and his Monty Python gang once said in their 1983 classic Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, “Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving and revolving at 900 miles an hour”, it really does help put things in perspective. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS | The Ontarian, Writer, Editor

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