Would have been a hit long ago

I recall it used to be when I had some stupid idea about things and I told the adults (this was when I was young) and the response was usually that if it was so easy, it would have been done already. Or that the problem would have been solved. Now what follows is usually not so inspiring as it was intended to be; but I was always encouraged to work hard, learn things, and then try to work on the solution to the problem I care about. That was the good upbringing I had.

But the question is whether we are stuck with the story that if something was so great, someone else would have been able to make it work. Unfortunately, that story is often very much in our head. Important ideas that wins you a Nobel prize often needs to be quite new but they are usually no longer that revolutionary by the time Nobel prize announce the winners. You see, the significant part isn’t about winning the Nobel prize; it’s about changing the world. And changing the world isn’t always about new ideas. They are more often about applying ideas, perhaps existing ones, in new areas, or to even just be able to execute or implement those ideas.

Ideas and improvement in technologies build upon one another. It is the development of satellite technology that allows GPS to exist, and the proliferation of small sensors, GPS receiver hardware that allows the benefit of that satellite to be democratised. Subsequently, it was the development of maps, good quality overlays and mapping of entire cities, that allowed software to properly leverage on the GPS information for navigation. And of course, the business model of ride-hailing apps and food-delivery apps are built upon these innovations. Sequencing of implementation matters; and good ideas are not made bad by circumstances and will require its own time and space to be a great hit. So no, we cannot pretend that great solutions would have already been adopted, and that problems would have been solved if it was ‘that easy’. Our role is to work hard to make the solving of problems ‘ that easy’ by first dealing with prior problems at hand.

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