Saturday, December 01, 2012

Road:SpeedBreaker :: Human:System

Roads are awesome. They connect people in the real world. This technology is so ubiquitous that we take it for granted.

But who invented the Speed Breaker? When? Why? I thought these were one of my usual useless questions and about to move on - but "i felt lucky" to find them so easily. Arthur Compton (a physics noble laureate) invented them in 1953.

This is a mildly interesting but largely irrelevant fact to me. The interesting unanswered question is "Why?". If there is a ditch in a road which slows people down, we want to fix it. But we add our own bump in the road. The answer is probably obvious - people do not follow rules always and any technology has to be idiot-proofed. In an attempt to avoid a probability that rash drivers can hurt people, we are making everybody feel a tiny bit more frustrated all the time.

I really do not like the speed breaker - not as a single invention. But as a generic type of inventions which prevent people from using the full technology because they can hurt themselves and others if they use it wrongly.

I recently had an interesting intellectual conversation with a passionate person who would fight to get the right system in place so that people can live their lives together. Though I admire that passion and agree that such technology is needed to keep everyone alive, I do not share such a passion to create a system. I would much rather work on making one individual mildly happier. Or I would be my usual-lazy-self and not do much at all.

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