~ A heavily-cut version of an older, much longer post. ~
Human ingenuity is not important.
No one's invention is a necessity.
Genius is inconsequential.
Geniuses confer no ultimate benefit, add nothing to humanity's ultimate potential.
Whether or not we have geniuses available to shout "Eureka!" and slap each other's backs as they induct each other into halls of fame, survival and competitive pressures on a mass scale will determine the desirable direction, and we get there: not by dint of brilliance, but in an endless dumb rubbing up against things, an inevitable wearing away of the sludge that conceals from us how it all works.
Out of the soft and hard terrain of limitations, we carve ever deeper channels and canyons into the possible.
We erode the softer limits of ignorance, and we find courses through the harder physical limits we uncover. All soluble obstacles are intrinsically toast.
The assembly line. The transistor. The integrated circuit. The microprocessor. Solutions to problems that were toast to begin with.
What do innovators actually get us?
What importance does any one of them have?
What importance, the individual of genius?
When adherents of rival geniuses stand hollering over who got there first, it becomes clear that crowded fields of people were all going that way at the same time anyway. Face it: we were going to get there.
Innovators are worthless. Innovators are the impersonal, interchangeable agents of an inevitable wearing away that is proceeding apace with or without any one of them. Our species is nothing but water downhill: a great endless wash of blind, dumb progress towards the possible, driven by the combined weight of all our needs and all of our minds.
No individual droplet in that coursing stream matters. We just like to pick out one droplet towards the front of the surge, and drop a medal and a ribbon on it.
It's because we're individuals ourselves, no doubt.
It is true that not everything we can envision will end up being possible. Some obstacles may end up being foundational aspects of reality. We'll work within those or work around them, in the same blind, dumb, downhill-coursing fashion, and we will get where we can.
The lesson here is more than hope: it is a crimson and permanent assurance. Ignorance is soluble. Anything that can possibly be done, or that can be done meaningfully better, one way or another way - the sludge of ignorance that conceals it from us will be worn through or worn clear, and reality's potential will be found out. Exposed.
True, not every possible idiosyncratic method will be discovered. There are, after all, nigh-infinite redundant solutions to most problems. Better and better solutions are likely to make their headway eventually, but just as occurs with selection-driven speciation and adaptation to a given ecological niche, a particular solution to a given physical problem will appear and predominate. This will hinder the explosive proliferation of competing solutions that occur later, even if one is marginally better. The individual solution won't matter, any more than the individual innovator matters.
None of us, not even the most brilliant of us - no genius, no trailblazer, no innovator no matter how colossal - makes a real difference or a meaningful contribution, not when it comes to achieving what was simply, finally, physically possible to begin with.
The desirable possible is inevitable.