I recently linked to designer Milton Glaser’s ten point credo about life one of the points of which was this.
PROFESSIONALISM IS NOT ENOUGH or THE GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF THE GREAT.
Early in my career I wanted to be professional, that was my complete aspiration in my early life because professionals seemed to know everything – not to mention they got paid for it. Later I discovered after working for a while that professionalism itself was a limitation. After all, what professionalism means in most cases is diminishing risks. So if you want to get your car fixed you go to a mechanic who knows how to deal with transmission problems in the same way each time. I suppose if you needed brain surgery you wouldnt want the doctor to fool around and invent a new way of connecting your nerve endings. Please do it in the way that has worked in the past.
Unfortunately in our field, in the so-called creative I hate that word because it is misused so often. I also hate the fact that it is used as a noun. Can you imagine calling someone a creative? Anyhow, when you are doing something in a recurring way to diminish risk or doing it in the same way as you have done it before, it is clear why professionalism is not enough. After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is the continuous transgression. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success. So professionalism as a lifetime aspiration is a limited goal.
Now Peter Singer (no not that Peter Singer) draws our attention to something about the defence White Paper that is truly amazing.
An amazing revolution is ongoing around us, especially in war. The US military went into Iraq in 2003 with a handful of unmanned planes. There are now more than 7000 robotic drones in its inventory. In 2003, the invasion force had no ground robotics. Today there are roughly 12,000 on the ground. And the latest models of our robots give new meaning to the technology industry term “killer application”, as they now come with a lethal armoury of missiles, rockets, and machine-guns.
Yet, it is interesting that in a white paper that plans a force out to the year 2030, [o]ther than a discussion of buying a mere seven high-altitude drones, to supplement the manned maritime patrol aircraft, (essentially talking about Australia one day buying the capabilities of the US Air Force’s Global Hawk type drone, a remarkable system, but one which is already almost 10 years old), this revolution isn’t mentioned.