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What are all those inventions for? What are all those inventions for?
by Joseph Gatt
2008-04-14 08:14:03
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Everyday, several inventions are made that promise to put an end to many of the world’s problems. However, they all go through a process of being slowly commercialized if commercialized or used at all.

I stood with amazement when I heard of a water purifier being invented that filters water from all its bacteria and everything. That means you could have undrinkable water become drinkable. That invention should help provide water to people who are short in supply of water.

However, no news this invention has been commercialized, and it might not be commercialized before several years. Why all that waste of time? Indeed, inventors often lack funds to commercialize their product, and once commercialized, the idea lacks entrepreneurship.

What surprises me is that inventions that can save lives are often abandoned due to lack of entrepreneurship. It’s as if people didn’t care that much about their or other people’s lives. I know people who spend hours internet shopping for the most ridiculous products that will not help them with anything, except that the product was catchy. But when it comes to products that can be useful to millions of people for the sake of their own basic human needs, governments and local entrepreneurs often turn them down because they see no use in saving lives.

A striking example was the air bag. The air bag was invented in the 1960s, when thousands of people died each year in car accidents. The air bag was only briefly introduced in the United States and Japan in the mid-1970s, and was back then very rare. No one thought such an invention could have saved lives. It was only in the 1980s that some cars, mostly luxurious ones, starting using air bags as an option. Indeed, life comes as a priority for rich people. Only in the 1990s did most cars starting using them, it therefore took 20 years for people to start using airbags, mostly in western countries. Still today, some cheap cars don’t have airbags integrated in them.

Another invention was one I saw on American inventor. Two years ago, Janusz Liberkowski won the contest by introducing a safety seat for children he called the Anecia Safety Capsule. That sort of invention should not only save lives, but also be an alternative for safety seats for children since it has the advantage of protecting them. Yet up until today, it has not been commercialized.

What is it with inventions taking so much time before being implemented and sold? When it comes to safety or fulfilling people’s basic human needs, inventions should quickly reach the public because one life that could have been saved by one of those inventions is one life too much.

However, people don’t seem to care about the ability to save lives, but about how much income the invention would generate. Research and development should not only focus on how much money a new product will make but also on how useful it should be. Should it be useful, governments and companies should do everything possible to make such products available on the market, and available to people who can not afford them.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-04-14 11:56:26
Indeed Mr. Hadid, the problem is greed and dehumanization, not impersonal market forces, nor the efficiency of the patenting system. There is no doubt that we possess the technological know-how to eliminate world hunger, but alas, we lack the ethical will to do so. That is is a problem which no technological scientific invention can solve by itself. As the poet Octavio Paz remarked some twenty years ago at a gathering of Nobel Laureates vying with each other as to who had the best technological gadget for solving world hunger: gentlemen the problem is not how to solve world hunger whose solution we obviously know how to do in theory, rather the problem is this: what does it do our humanity to have that kind of knowledge in theory and not to implement it in practice? Twenty years after that statement and many more inventions later the problem of world hunger not only has not been solved but has gotten worse, which can only mean that our dehumanization proceeds unheeded together with hunger in the world. Which brings us back to the words of a wise man in Palestine depicted as an Apollo in the Sistine Chapel who said: you shall be judged by what you did to the least of your brethren. To which we could add, not by how many inventions you patented.

LL2008-04-15 08:52:10
point taken Paparella

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