Responsible Inventing

on (ttk.me b/5Xh1) using BBEdit

I finally understand why Rambaldi may have hidden so many inventions.


When you invent something, you should forecast the impact of your invention in the current cultural (social, political, economic, belief systems) context, and if it


Then you should stop, and:

  1. encrypt your work for a potentially better future context
  2. or destroy your notes, ideally in a way that minimizes risk of detection of their deliberate destruction
  3. and avoid any or any detectable use of your invention, because even the mere use of it may provide enough information for someone else to reinvent it who may not be as responsible.

In Addition

Insights and new knowledge are included in this meaning of “invention” and the guidance above.

Forecasting should consider both whether your invention could directly cause risk or more harm, or if it could be incorporated as a building block with other (perhaps yet to be invented) technologies to create risk or more harm.


Instead of continuing work on such inventions, shift your focus to:

  1. work on other inventions
  2. and document & understand how & why that current cultural context would contribute to existential risk or more harm than good
  3. and work to improve, evolve that cultural context to reduce or eliminate its contribution to existential risk, and or its aspects that would (or already do) cause more harm than good

Da Vinci

The Should (1) provides a plausible explanation for why Da Vinci “encrypted” his writings in mirror script, deliberately making it difficult for others to read (and thus remember or reproduce). Per Should (2) he also wrote in paper mediums of the time that were all destroyable, and he may have been successful in destroying without detection, since no one has found any evidence thereof, although such a lack of evidence is purely circumstantial and he may just as likely never destroyed any invention notes.

Methods & Precautions

Learning from Da Vinci’s example within the context of the Shoulds, we can infer additional methods and precautions to take when developing inventions:


Many of these insights came to me in a dream this morning, so clearly that I immediately wrote them down upon waking up, and continued writing extrapolations from the initial insights.

Additional Reading

After writing down the above while it (and subsequent thoughts & deductions) were fresh in mind, and typing it up, I did a web search for “responsible inventing” for prior similar, related, or possibly of interest works and found:

Invent The Future

While this post encourages forecasting and other methods for avoiding unintended harmful impacts of inventions, I want to close by placing those precautions within an active positive context.

I believe it is the ultimate responsibility of an inventor to contribute, encourage, and actively create a positive vision of the future through their inventions. As Alan Kay said:

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”


Comments curated from replies on personal sites and federated replies that include thoughts, questions, and related reading that contribute to the primary topic of the article.

  1. Crul at :

    Also related: Paul Virilio's concept of "The integral accident": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Virilio#The_integral_accident

  2. Roma Komarov at :

    If some invention can pose a risk, should it be treated as a vulnerability?

    Destroying/delaying an invention, in this case, could lead to it being re-invented and exploited in a different, less responsible, place.

    Obviously, it doesn't mean that invention should be unleashed. But if it poses a risk, wouldn't it be more responsible to work on finding a way to minimize it, and, ideally, not alone?

    There is probably no one good answer, and each case will be different.

  3. Lewis Cowles at :

    I am unsure if it is always practical or possible, for an inventor to understand all the characteristics of their inventions and their impact beyond a very slim set of hops.

    If things go well, I believe inventors can "believe their own hype", because they are human.

    Is it a free pass if you make something awful and can't take it back?
    Would that make Ignorance a virtue?

    This opens up many more problems, for both creators, and broader society.