All of the biggest technological inventions created by man – the airplane, the automobile, the computer – says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness
Having always ascribed inventions to human intelligence, I initially felt as if my belief in modern technology was challenged by this quote. However, the more I ruminate over this quote, the more I realize that in fact, it speaks of my belief, rather than rebutting it.
Regarding laziness, the author does make a concrete point about the founding reason for the existence of inventions in general. After all, is it not for the wish to gain more output with less physical input that inventions are invented? Is it not for seeing the need to put our muscles at rest that we create machines to do the physical job for us? If this wish and this vision are not signs of laziness, then what is?
Nevertheless, there is a flip side of the story that is unfairly neglected in the quote. The shift from working with mostly muscle to mostly brain in our society is not a fair point to argue that our generation is lazier than past generations. With the introduction of new inventions over time, there has been a change in the type of work we do to sustain our living. Instead of primal types of jobs requiring less rationality and more muscle memory, we are now moving into the third and fourth sectors, where a wide range of analytical, reasoning and deducting skills are required and physically intensive skills are less needed. In the big picture, a person working in a field and a person working in an office are all doing their own jobs, putting their contribution to their respective society with the output of their work process. It is rather irrational to say that the person working in the office is lazier than the one working in the field merely because the former does not use as much muscle as the latter in their job because neither of them are at rest.
Regarding intelligence, I initially found this statement controversial. However, after much thought on the word choice of Kennedy, I have deducted my own interpretation of his quote, which I, unsurprisingly, find compatible with my own belief. I think while saying that inventions say little about our intelligence, Kennedy implies that human ability is far beyond these inventions. In fact, these inventions only represent the primitive phase of our technology. With our intelligence, we can, and will, go further than we can ever imagine. Yet, worried that we would become lazy and self-satisfied enough of our current state of technological advancement, Kennedy is so kind to use this quote as a reminder for us of our ability to go “to infinity and beyond”.
Comparing to the dawn of time of human history, we have expanded our puddle of knowledge quite significantly. The puddle, although contracts at some point, generally has a tendency to keep expanding. Going hand-in-hand with the expansion of the puddle is the unstoppable growing of our thirst for more knowledge of the universe we live in. Therefore, despite its expansion, the puddle will always remain a puddle in our eyes. This spirit, if I am not mistaken – which I highly doubt in this particular case, is also the main message that Kennedy wants to deliver to human through his quote. I, therefore, strongly believe that this quote will travel through time with our society as we advance our technology, and as the puddle expands, to the future!