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Was removing the drudgery from laundry the greatest feat of the industrial revolution? [VIDEO]

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What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? The automobile? The assembly line? The leaf blower?

Wrong on all counts, says Hans Rosling, a professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and a visionary who enjoys dispelling common myths about the so-called developing world.

In this peppy presentation for TED, Gosling posits that the top invention was… wait for it… the washing machine! He then supports his argument in a compelling, entertaining and personal way.

Rosling concludes that freeing his mother from the drudgery of hand-washing gave her time for things that improved, exponentially, the quality of life for her and her family. It’s the holy grail of innovation.

Let’s push the timeline into the digital age. Did desktop computers make our lives easier, or better? Do cellular phones expand our leisure time? Does high-definition television advance our social potential?

Is there any invention of the digital age that has done for you what the washing machine did for Hans Rosling’s mother and her family? It could be argued that most modern inventions, while freeing up our time, also shackle us to the the drudgery of… wait for it… connectivity.

Image by Alisha Vargas

The magic washing machine

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