I think this is a sneaky profound question with sneaky profound implications:
Why did it take so long for people to invent obvious stuff?
And, relatedly: what are the obvious things we’re not inventing?
ha, yes. i think maybe the more sophisticated version of my question is what kind of systems, mindsets, cultures, etc make certain ideas or inventions obvious to one group but not another equally or more intelligent group
I feel like SpaceX's reusable rocket tech is a great example of a thing that should have been invented earlier but wasn't because of cost, imagination and the potent premise that advancing space tech ought only be NASA's domain.
Quite a question. My initial take is obviousness is dependent on necessity but also the pre-existence of things, to which Bacon refers. Unlocking obviousness is a talent I don't think we can democratize. The iPhone wasn't particularly obvious at the time, Jobs made it so.
Is that strange? Air travel only became a mass phenomenon in the '50s/'60s. Why would there have been rolling suitcases before there were big airports and lots of people walking through them? That's basically the use case.
Probably all sorts of reasons the market wasn't ready until soon before rolling luggage was introduced. Less travel. Worse roads. Cheaper labor to have porters/servants carry the luggage. Costlier manufacture. Costlier repair of moving parts (people used to repair things).
I'll give you two. We need to hack garbage, i.e., the whole process of stuffing trash into a bag and pulling it out of the can and carrying it to the curb. It sucks! And Jetsons-style self-cooking ovens. You insert the ingredients, walk away and it does everything. You're welcome
Imagination to see old things in new ways is hard, as is overcoming high barriers to entry for new things (e.g., individually cast letters). "Obvious" also implies cultural acceptance; utility is what makes inventions successful.
Feel like a lot of obvious stuff is delayed because its of limited utility prior to some less-obvious pre-cursor invention. The printing press isn't much good without paper-mills to provide cheap paper, for example,
This is a hard question on which much has been written, but it basically comes down to this: For much of history, the vast majority of people didn't view new technology as something that could improve their lives (individually or collectively) in practical ways.
IIRC early Americans often tried to invent things that existed in Europe in some form because they didn't know and/or frontier conditions were different. They knew they needed more but weren't starving or under siege. Maybe there's a safety/discomfort ratio that fuels invention?