The Role Of Abundance In Innovation
from the it-increases-it... dept
This makes a lot of sense... and certainly fits with plenty of other things we've seen in recent research. Innovation tends to occur not because of one brilliant idea from one brilliant individual -- but as an ongoing process, with lots of folks tossing different ideas at the wall, and seeing what sticks. Invention is the beginning process, but then people innovate around various inventions to improve it and make it acceptable to the market. In fact, this is why we tend to think that the long run impact of investment bubbles isn't usually bad. Historically, the impact of bubbles has actually been quite good, and it's for exactly these reasons. Within the bubble there is tremendous abundance, and that allows for many different ideas to get tested incredibly quickly. The bad ones fail, but plenty of good ideas (and infrastructure) stick around. It's bad if you get caught up in the investment bubble, but it's good for the overall economy in the long run.
This also should (again) get people to rethink some issues surrounding patents. If it's that abundance and experimenting that leads to all that innovation, aren't we holding back that innovation by enforcing artificial scarcity, and allowing one company to entirely block others from doing the necessary experiments? In Chris Anderson's latest book, he builds on Carver Mead's idea about transistors becoming so abundant that it makes sense to "waste" them. This makes a tremendous amount of sense if you start to follow through the economic implications of "wasting" goods that are effectively infinite. When "wasted," they create new opportunities where none existed before. The innovation that comes out of abundance comes from such "waste." It comes from the ability to invent and tinker and experiment and see what sticks -- and you can't do that when you have massive scarcities -- real or artificial. So why is it that our innovation policy is still focused on enforcing scarcities when that's the exact opposite of what's needed to encourage innovation?