Inventions may change the world, but not all count as progress, and several inventors have later come to regret their bright idea.
A letter from Mikhail Kalashnikov published yesterday rues the creation of the world famous AK-47, saying: “If my rifle claimed people’s lives, then can it be that I was to blame for their deaths?”
The AK-47 is by no means unique as a harbinger of slaughter en masse; upon the explosion of the first nuclear bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer reflected on the enormity of his brainwave, saying: “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
To avoid regretting your invention, it's probably best to not invent a weapon. Throughout the 1980s, Kamran Loghman worked for the FBI and helped develop pepper spray. He said: “I have never seen such an inappropriate and improper use of chemical agents.”
Some inventors strive to repair the damage. Alfred Nobel was so ashamed of dynamite he created the Nobel Peace Prize to encourage governments and individuals to follow a different path.
There's no need to say "//" out loud ("slash slash"?), but Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, believes it could have been avoided altogether: “Really, if you think about it, [the web] doesn't need the //. I could have designed it not to have the //.”
Robert Propst (1921-2000) is sorry if you work in a cubicle. While he didn't do much more than outline a square, he failed to anticipate how the office cubicle would turn so many office workers into wall-shredding wrecks. Propst came to call it a "monolithic insanity."