Upon recommendation, I recently took my first look at “The Big Bang Theory”, only to realise that a season of “Star Trek” is an important pre-requisite. In some ways, it is reassuring that the futuristic depictions of Star Trek have not come to be true. The day we forecast technology will be the cul de sac of innovation.
Within our modern financial labyrinth of stocks, bonds and derivatives, it is comforting to know that our innovation, the building of new ideas upon old, is central to to intensive growth. Intensive, not extensive, because innovation can bring about growth without increasing the number of hours worked or the consumption of natural resources. This week’s Economist puts it most elegantly:
“Economies can generate growth by adding more stuff: more workers, investment and education. But sustained increases in output per person, which are necessary to raise incomes and welfare, entail using the stuff we already have in better ways-innovating”
As populations reach a maximum and as higher education spreads worldwide, the emphasis upon growth through innovation can only rise. Society will move to teach innovation widely and from an early age. We will create a larger pool of people that invent and implement.
In particular innovation is a beautiful aspect of research and the most important in the justification of its funding. Investors may prefer more cautious business models with visible payoffs in the not so distant future. Researchers can dream of world changing ideas with distant horizons. Researchers can set aside the probable, dream up the possible and engineer a great source of intensive growth for years to come.
1. The Economist. The great innovation debate. http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21569393-fears-innovation-slowing-are-exaggerated-governments-need-help-it-along-great