Here’s a game to play on long trans-continental flights.
Sitting in the darkness, imagine being born at a different time, create alternate histories and futures for the human race. It’s easy if you try. Go forward in time when flying east, and backward when flying west. Keep everything variable except your own inner nature. What would you do as a freshly evolved human 200,000 years ago, sitting in the African savanna with sticks and stones? What would you be in the distant future, when AI runs the planet you’re living on?
From this daydreaming, I discovered that I really love to make things. In the Stone Age, I would be making flint arrowheads and bead necklaces. In the non-dystopian future (that is, one where humans are not being farmed as batteries for our AI overlords), I would be making ingenious little things that require a curious mix of tool-making and art. And that’s exactly what I like doing today in the real world. Make things.
It’s not just me. My own belief is that human progress is a boring story of nothing happening for thousands of years, and then sudden jumps into a completely different reality. Many times these jumps would be caused by natural events (a flood, a fire, a quake), but at times the sudden jump into the future would be brought about by a new technology. Imagine the change that would have come about when humans could handle fire, stone tools, metal wares, the wheel, electricity, railroads and the internet. The old order no longer holds after this invention, and there’s no way the arrow of progress can be turned back.
Once invented, these technologies eventually change the lifestyle and culture we humans live in. The break from the past is unimaginable beforehand.
As Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”. He wasn’t horsing around. People had been asking for a faster horse for thousands of years before him. It’s only in hindsight that the impact of this new technology makes sense. So different is this world from our own that looking forward, you could be staring at magic.
Everything that brings in novelty into a predictable world is magic. Like gifts on Christmas - we have become used to unwrapping magic in little packages every day. We revel in a life full of surprise, delight and anticipation. These days it seems to be everywhere. But who is making all this magic?
These days, it's the technology elves that are hard at work making magic. In different times, others have pulled the world forward. The pre-human cave-dwellers made fire. The inventors of the button to hold clothes together. The smiths that perfected bronze-wares. The wizard of Menlo Park who brought electricity to the world. This guy in Cupertino who made the computer personal. One could say, history is full of magicians, but that would be unfair. History happens only because magic is real. Without magic, we would be living on a dead planet with no history and no future. Just an uneven sameness that would even make immortality a curse.
But not all those who work with technology make magic. Yesterday's magic is today's technology.
The bureaucratic drudgery required to keep the world from moving forward also needs people to run their technology. A distrust of change, a pessimism, is needed to maintain this dystopia. Prowess with technology is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for magic. Technology without hope, without play, and without a forward momentum is just a blunt and lifeless tool.
I’m grateful that we live in a time of massive change, no different from the sudden jumps in human history. There’s so much to make! So I’m glad I found a bunch of colleagues who share my outlook. At Nagarro, we're optimistic about our place in history, and the role technology has always played in making magic. We are ingenious at problem solving, because it's who we are as people, and because the problems we solve are new every time. We are tinkerers, tweakers and tricksters. We work hard, because making magic requires us to. We're twinkle-eyed and playful by nature, but we can also play hard. We love our creations even more when we delight you as consumers of everyday magic, wherever you may find us - in banks, locks, lights and flights - to name a few places where we have already met.
Let's make magic!