Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wake Up and Smell the Innovation

From the days of Michelangelo to the days of Steve Jobs the innovation has played a key role in the development and subsequent progress of humanity. The inventions of various kinds have contributed a great deal to the improvement of human’s lot on the planet. Imagine your life without the given conveniences of mobile devices, the time saving home appliances and the freedom of movement which comes with automobiles. It used to take days for a delivery person to carry a message from one party to another, but with the improvements in information technology it became a matter of seconds. Our indispensable cell phones became the pocket minicomputers featuring all kinds of applications, from the digital clock to the complex programs for computation. We can even envision the time when the passport, the personal medical information and finances will transfer into our portable phones. In the near future you will no longer be obliged to carry a thick binder with personal documents, because everything will be stored on the electronic device in your pocket.

However we would not be able to enjoy the wonders of technology if it was not for trailblazing innovators who were not afraid to introduce something radically new into our midst. Think of Stibitz at the Bell Laboratories and Aiken at Harvard who worked on the early electromechanical computers in the 1940s, the invention of the transistor by Brattain, Bardeen, and Shockley in 1948 which enabled the appearance of the microelectronic integrated circuit (the microchip) or the current research carried out by Professor Aleksandr P. Kozlov and his colleagues at Gas Technology Institute who utilize the recently discovered thermodynamic cycle (M-cycle) to increase the efficiency of air conditioning units that are run on water. These innovators constitute a creative class of scientists who bring about a positive change into this world and are remarkable examples worthy of emulation.

Although it is apparent that not everyone can become the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, nevertheless every individual has the necessary talents and innate abilities in order to make a valuable contribution and advance certain significant ideas into our society. Today is the day for all of us to pull together to share the knowledge and skills we have in our possession and change things for the better.

If you are a youngster who is dissatisfied with the current way of life, do not look forward to the violent revolution, which in your false belief will clean up the streets and resurrect the dying society. We do not need a bloody revolution, what we need is a revolution of ideas, which will be conducted by bright individuals who will join hands together and work toward the goals of peace, justice and prosperity. The change we desire to obtain can be reached via the union of creative intellects operating on the common platform towards the grand common purpose.  

Southern Illinois University Innovative Systems acts as one of these strong platforms to advance change into this world. The existence of the publicly accessible intellectual stage, where the industry actors and young entrepreneurs can congregate together in the University type of setting to exchange ideas and share valuable insights, is imperative for the maintenance of American liberties and freedoms. The study of diverse perspectives and opinions can vastly expand one’s intellectual horizons and help to grasp the larger picture of the shape of things to come. The University grounds make up an ideal place for the public discourse and the sharing of ideas, because anything that is promulgated in the educational facilities will inevitably produce the ripple effects that will be felt across the globe. The Innovative Systems Conference at SIU carries an immense pragmatic value and enriches the professional lives by establishing the lines of communication between various disciplines. Furthermore, it is of vital importance for the student body to be privy to the large number of views so they can augment their awareness of the world at large. The students who had the privilege to participate at the SIUIS Conferences were able to establish beneficial contacts with the industry leaders and test their cherished ideas with people who have the ability to implement them in the real world. As a participant at SIUIS-2010 Conference I was given a wonderful opportunity to be a part of that intellectually refreshing experience, during which the technical experts and entrepreneurs were exchanging the gems of wisdom and offering us an outlet from the humdrum of everyday events of the professional circles that we dwell in. Speakers were given a valuable occasion to receive feedback in the form of questions and answers session and the healthy critique from the audience composed of faculty members and students.

Innovative Systems is a fabulous intellectual platform where the fusion of creative thinking of bright individuals has found its place and where the students have the privilege to get in touch with the successful innovators and their potential employers. Innovative Systems also serves as a hub of diverse ideas emanating from the fields of business, economics, engineering and information technology. After three days of intellectual journey at SIUIS Conference one may ponder for months on the knowledge that was conveyed by intriguing and eloquent speakers.

This is an ideal plain for innovation that needs to be reinforced, strengthened and supercharged in order to move this organization to the next level of outreach and influence. All participants need to understand the cordial relationship between technology and development and redouble their efforts in propagating the concepts of Innovative Systems, the greater ingenuity and better future through the groundbreaking ideas. Our future depends on our present actions which should be more sustainable and less harmful to the environment.
To guarantee the sustainable future for our progeny we need to start working on the present environmental conditions and mitigate the adverse impacts on the earth’s climate stemming from certain careless human activities. The fulfillment of these benevolent goals can be premised on the sustainable living, e.g. the Village21© project proposes to accomplish this by selecting an urban or a rural area to run a pilot project to demonstrate to the nation and the rest of the world the benefits of self-sufficiency and communal existence. In addition to that the current developments in the greening technologies can greatly enhance the goals summarized above.

One of the prerogatives will consist in the restoration of a tightly knit community which will conduct its own farming, cloth weaving and workshops that will carry its respective activities independently from the monopolistic corporations. The idea is to recreate and improve the longhouses of American Indians and make them suitable for the 21st Century living. Imagine several families and/or couples or one large family clan existing under the roof of the giant habitable complex with meeting rooms, a joint dining place and communal sleeping quarters. The housing complex may incorporate the renewable energy technologies that will act as a source of clean energy producing no harmful emissions or dangerous byproducts. The green energy technologies will power the local community workshops which will be in business to make shoes, weave clothing and repair the machinery that is in local usage. Several communities can develop networks in order to undertake larger projects which will require an effort of multiple research groups. The cross-community networks will not constitute an environment of dependency, because the essential things needed for the basic human survival will be conducted independently and in a self-sustaining manner. Water, food, shelter and heating are the only crucial factors to consider for the preservation and continuation of human species. If these are granted all else follows.

Many of us are aware of the fact that the food in the majority of grocery shops is unfit to eat and the water from public suppliers is unfit to drink. Therefore the only way to safeguard ourselves from the contaminated food and water is to take these matters into our own hands. A series of water wells can be dug to supply the village with fresh water or install filtration systems for the general and personal usage. The fruits and vegetables can be grown in the gardens around the housing building along with the crop fields that will be shared by all members of the community. When one conducts the farming that person regains control on the type of pesticide that is used, the type of soil that is cultivated for plantation and the type of seed that is used in the production of a given crop. Everyone should have a say in the matters of community and share an equal amount of responsibility in the village. Together we can both overcome the burdens and take joy in the accomplishments.

If you are looking for an easy way out in this world then you are destined to fall prey to the frameworks and systems devised by other individuals who will exploit you and confiscate the fruits of your labor via taxation or legal fines. If you want to consume good quality food, you must monitor closely its production and preparation phases to insure that the optimum benefit is derived from it to you and your loved ones. One cannot be a slave to the social system when he or she controls food, water and shelter. How long do we need to endure a small class of parasites existing on the backs of the larger populace? We must act now in a collective fashion to ensure that we do not wake up in the world of slavery and utter subjugation. 

Furthermore we can no longer afford to rely on air polluting fossil fuels and dangerous nuclear power plants, because these activities have a large set of adverse consequences on environment in general and human health in particular. The only feasible solution is to go back and start living harmoniously with Mother Nature and stop plundering our finite planet. The true definition of greening is to respect the Nature and be grateful for the gifts she has to offer. To be green signifies the special relationship one can have with the Nature herself, caring and protecting that which is vulnerable. It is a viable approach to arrive to the goals of greening and innovation by accumulating knowledge, experience, and wisdom to be eventually implemented in the right circumstances.

However the scientific knowledge, which is essential for understanding the operations and processes of the surrounding world, without the specific mindset cannot serve as a fertile ground for innovation. Only the inspired and illuminated individual can make a significant breakthrough in the particular field of study. Unfortunately one cannot assign the exact criteria of what makes the person suitable for a significant discovery. Nevertheless an individual with the inquisitive mind, the eagerness to learn and the ability to think outside established norms has enough potential to rediscover the forgotten truths or come up with something totally new that will become the useful tool for the betterment of society. One should learn how to think outside the standardized and accepted modes or zones of reasoning in order to arrive at refreshing solutions to the current sociopolitical predicaments. If the person cannot think and reason beyond the push buttons on the computer screen, he or she will be hopelessly lost in the array of tailor-made cognitive structures. Retaining to one’s critical abilities during the journey of self education can greatly enhance the innate creative features thereby producing a new set of ideas and techniques that could be utilized for the greater good of all.

If someone wants to remain a mindless touchscreen zombie only to be useful in the McDonald’s restaurants then let them be where they are. If you take things for granted and assume that the currently structured society is just a natural order of things then no one can help you. Those of you who understand the power of non-linear thinking, the necessity of complex thoughts and are able to achieve an acute concentration on the object of your study, you have the potential to invent the next steam engine, the next internal combustion engine, and the next microprocessor.

Just think how one invention can bring forth a dramatic change to our lives in the form of numerous tangible products. For instance the invention of the microchip has enabled the appearance of three indispensable devices: the cell-phone, the laptop and the Internet. Besides communication the cell phones granted us an opportunity to use complex applications to make purchases, browse the Internet and even to create an array of ultra-sophisticated programs to calculate financial instruments in the global markets. Without innovation all of that would still remain in the realm of magic and sorcery.

However the change we so desperately seek in this world cannot be actualized without the renegades and intellectual “rebels” who are not afraid to break through the established norms and deliver something that is new and reinvigorating on the scene. Sometimes an odd idea can have a tremendous and a positive impact on the surroundings and in turn contribute to the rise of the society’s health level. Thus it is in the best interest of free thinkers, intellectual rebels and cognitive dissidents to unite under the common front and concentrate their indefatigable energies into one positive beam of constructive and beneficial change. Entrepreneurs, innovators and radical thinkers compose a powerful crew that can gain enough momentum to punch through the stale walls of banality, the archaic conventional wisdom and the rotten conditions of normalcy. The rebellious spirit, which is especially acute in the youngsters, can be utilized for much higher purposes, such as the construction of more robust communities. After all the communal work can be made into something that is both pragmatic and entertaining. The people of our generation must become the drivers of civilization and the progenitors of great ideals.                        
Imagine the road to discovery as the winding paths of the labyrinth, which one must traverse, conquering various obstacles and running into dead-ends, to reach the center and find the valuable artifact and bring it back to the people. We have tremendous powers of creativity and ingenuity hidden within ourselves and the innovative thinking can unleash them with the full force. We cannot always divert the direction of global trends, but we can certainly prepare for what lies ahead with the help of the spirit of discovery and the audacity of hope. Our guiding principles for shaping the better future for our posterity should consist of community, solidarity and charity. Gravitating toward these ideals will help us persevere through the ignorance and intellectual darkness of today and will lead us into the light at the end of the tunnel.      


Attali, Jacques. The Labyrinth in Culture and Society: Pathways to Wisdom. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1999.

Foreign Policy Association. Toward the Year 2018. New York: Cowles Education Corporation, 1968.

Russell, Bertrand. The Impact of Science on Society. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1953.

Written by Arseniy A. Kozlov