Published in The Wall Street Journal: Does scientific research drive innovation? Not very often, argues Matt Ridley: Technological evolution has a momentum of its own, and it has little to do with the abstractions of the lab
Innovation is a mysteriously difficult thing to dictate. Technology seems to change by a sort of inexorable, evolutionary progress, which we probably cannot stop—or speed up much either. And it’s not much the product of science. Most technological breakthroughs come from technologists tinkering, not from researchers chasing hypotheses. Heretical as it may sound, “basic science” isn’t nearly as productive of new inventions as we tend to think...(full article, needs subscription).
Here is a good post on this subject submitted by GreenWin to the E-Cat World (please see the many good comments as well):
Today’s Wall Street Journal Review features a full page spread by (UK
House of Lords member) Matt Ridley titled: “The Myth of Basic Science”
(Link here: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-myth-of-basic-science-1445613954). Ridley emphasizes the disruptive shift from institutional, tax-paid research to entrepreneurial innovation.
Speaking of years of government intervention and “forbidden tech,” Ridley observes: “The
history of technological prohibitions is revealing. Ming Chinese
prohibited large ships; the Shogun Japanese, firearms; the medieval
Italians, silk spinning; Americans in the 1920s, alcohol.” Ridley
does not mention onerous federal statutes like the U.S. Invention
Secrecy Act of 1951. And while some prohibitions may actually defend
national security, many simply defend industrial monopolies.
Ridley goes on to skewer the political structure and its dim support for the MIC: ”Politicians
believe that innovation can be turned on and off like a tap: You start
with pure scientific insights, which then get translated into applied
science, which in turn become useful technology. So what you must do,
as a patriotic legislator, is ensure that there is a ready supply of
money to scientists on the top floor of their ivory towers, and lo and
behold, technology will come clanking out of the pipe at the bottom of
the tower.” This is the Wall Street Journal, not Buzzfeed, the Village Voice, or NPR’s All Things Considered...
Full article: http://www.e-catworld.com/2015/10/26/the-myth-of-basic-science-greenwin/