Transforming technical conscience into applied realities (5)

“The most important instrument in research must always be the mind of man,” wrote W. I. B. Beveridge many years ago. This ‘instrument’ is still the most sought after in research and innovation. Knowledge is generated at a rapid rate, we are asking if man’s head is expanding more than its actual utilization, will there be problems? It is important to know what is already known and what is yet to be known. Knowing the known, as well as the unknown, requires curiosity, attentiveness, patience, and scepticism. A knowledge seeker is never sure if he has arrived at the right conclusion, but he continues to work on the premise that one day he will arrive at the right conclusion. Cognitive scientist Gary Marcus says, we should be more worried about the ‘unknown unknowns’, as ‘unknowns’ are associated with gains and risks. The unclear risks that are in the distant future are the ones we take less seriously. We tend to discount the future impact of the risks because we don’t know them. We like to believe that we live in a just world, where there is little scope for unclear risks. Often, unclear risks cause more serious problems than clear risks. We often tend to ignore the future risks. We are forced to remember them only after the ‘risks’ happen. Writes Marcus, “What we really should be worried about is that we are not quite doing enough to prepare for the unknown.”