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Entering a dark age of innovation
Posted on Friday, July 01, 2005 @ 19:09:20 GMT by vlad

General It may seem like we are living in a technological nirvana, but the rate of technological innovation has been falling for 100 years, a new study reveals.

A U.S. scientist says that the rate of innovation peaked around the year 1900 and might actually grind to a halt comparable to the Dark Ages.

Full story at http://www.physorg.com/news4879.html

Article Preview (www.newscientist.com)
02 July 2005
Robert Adler
Magazine issue 2506

SURFING the web and making free internet phone calls on your Wi-Fi laptop, listening to your iPod on the way home, it often seems that, technologically speaking, we are enjoying a golden age. Human inventiveness is so finely honed, and the globalised technology industries so productive, that there appears to be an invention to cater for every modern whim.

But according to a new analysis, this view couldn't be more wrong: far from being in technological nirvana, we are fast approaching a new dark age. That, at least, is the conclusion of Jonathan Huebner, a physicist working at the Pentagon's Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California. He says the rate of technological innovation reached a peak a century ago and has been declining ever since. And like the lookout on the Titanic who spotted the fateful iceberg, Huebner sees the end of innovation looming dead ahead. His study ...[needs subscription to New Scientist]

From United Press International:

"Huebner used two measures of innovation, the 7,200 major innovations listed in "The History of Science and Technology" and the number of patents granted in the United States. He plotted the first against world population and then divided the number of patents granted in each decade by the U.S. population.

He discovered that the first graph peaked in 1873, while the number of patents per capita in the United States has been declining since 1915.

Huebner's study is to be published in Technological Forecasting and Social Change..."



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"Entering a dark age of innovation" | Login/Create an Account | 4 comments | Search Discussion
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Re: Entering a dark age of innovation (Score: 1)
by nanotech on Friday, July 01, 2005 @ 22:34:57 GMT
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I do not trust this claim made by that scientist. The age of nanotechnology, true gene level bio engineering, controlled protein folding, quantum potential/scalar zero point energies, and more, has just begun. He sounds like the people at the end of the 19th century who said "All possible devices and technologies have been built."

Re: Entering a dark age of innovation (Score: 1)
by ElectroDynaCat on Saturday, July 02, 2005 @ 06:43:42 GMT
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Patent numbers are deceiving. Look at the patents issued in 1900 versus today and the qualitative difference is obvious.

It was less expensive to patent in 1900 than it was today, that's why you'll see early patents for wierd devices like automatic hat tippers. Compare that to whats being patent protected today and there is no comparison.

In the 1970's one could not have imagined the strides technology has made. I first studied computer science I had to share an IBM 1620 with 4000 other students . It used punchcards (whats that?) had a magnetic core memory and was agonisingly slow. It suffered hardware failures almost continously. It was the thought of most knowledgeable experts that the computer wasn't going anywhere.

Had you walked into a University at the time with a modern day laptop and showed it to the Data Processing Staff (No such thing as IT then) they would have thought you had just landed from a journey from another planet.

Technical progress still amazes me to this day, we'll keep on moving forward as long as work is not hampered by politics or religon, which are the true impediments to knowledge and achievement.

Re: Entering a dark age of innovation (Score: 1)
by Kadamose on Saturday, July 02, 2005 @ 13:48:34 GMT
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I don't think that's what he means, guys. Yes, technology is improving...however, innovation, in other words, the new ideas that make these technologies even greater than they are, are being suppressed by things such as patents and Intellectual Property. These are the true enemies to technological progress, and they need to be disposed of.

Capitalism is the enemy, and always has been. It's time to grow up, people.


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