Entering a dark age of innovation
Date: Friday, July 01, 2005 @ 19:09:20 GMT
Topic: 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.
(http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18625066.500)

SCIENTIST: RATE OF PROGRESS SLOWING, July 01
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]
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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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