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Are there any inventions that actually and completely solve the problem they were created to solve?

I'm curious if any of you know any inventions that actually, completely solved the problem they set out to solve, without creating a whole new set of problems.

Are we destined/doomed to invent ourselves into destruction?

Gladwell brings up an interesting point in his talk about the Nordern Bombsight; he states that our problems are too complex to be "solved" by the inventions that we often think will in some way or form, save the world. He discusses how the use of drones in Pakistan has increased hostility against American in Afghanistan ten-fold--an extremely interesting piece of information.

This really got me thinking, are there any inventions that genuinely solve problems? I' aware that drones weren't created under the pretense of dropping bombs, but that is what they were eventually used for. I'd definitely attribute the rise in hostility to the use of drones, while they may be 95% accurate they also have something called a blast radius, which usually includes more than the few targets they set. Killing the families of people in such a volatile area is just fueling the fire. If a boy loses his family because of U.S. drone strikes--what choices does he have besides join a "terrorist" organization?

  • Nov 19 2013: You are actually asking two separate questions. One is whether any inventions have ever solved completely the problem they were invented to address. I think a great many inventions (mostly the less technological ones, perhaps) have accomplished that. The pencil, for instance, was invented to provide a convenient, portable, accessible means for recording ideas, data, etc. The fact that we still use a lot of pencils suggests that it has been highly successful.
    The second question is whether any inventions have ever come about that did not have the potential for misuse, or the possibility of unforeseen consequences which might affect us individually or collectively. This is harder to answer, but I doubt it. I believe that humanity exists as part of a vast universal ecology, and that what we do generates change that ripples away from us and affects the whole at least in some small way.
    And I think it would be better if we could more adequately assess and consider these ripple effects for every new invention before we foist it on the rest of humanity.
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    Nov 22 2013: A ram pump.
  • Nov 21 2013: Inventions are made to solve specific problems, which they typically solve or at least alleviate effectively.
    You may cause other problems along the way, but you solved your original one. Hopefully the new ones aren't as bad, though that varies on a case per case basis.

    Say you invent a universal cure for cancer. A Nobel prize and I don't know how much money later, and suddenly, you realize you have a new problem. People are taking even longer to die, putting strain on the healthcare and pension systems.
    In that particular case, I'd say you're trading up.

    As for your example, drones cause their fair share of problems, but they also solve quite a few. You can send them in to fight and die instead of people, for a start. I used to be one of those poor sods sent to fight and die--being replaced by a robot sure would have been nice.
    If we didn't have drones, we'd just be using manned aircraft for many of the same jobs.
  • Nov 19 2013: The light bulb was to stop home fires started by the open flame in lamps. It also was to stop mine explosions also caused by the open flames.