Innovation is a hostile act

For many good reasons, innovation is widely appreciated as a positive force, as the driver for progress and prosperity. But make no mistake: innovation has serious downsides, at least for some, at least sometimes. Even though these negative impacts are far outweighed by the positive effects, they are the source of considerable push-back and utter resistance to innovation. And it would be too easy to dismiss justified concerns as irrational, dump, backwards-oriented, or fear-mongering. It’s time to cast some light on the hostility even the best intended innovator might be faced with. It’s time to acknowledge that innovation itself is a hostile act. Here’s why.

Reinventing time

The times they are a-changin’. This Bob Dylan song has a deeper meaning than we usually realise. For our sense of time, of the pace and direction of its flow, transformed several times in human history. And this perception is undergoing significant changes again today. So here’s a short story about our sense of time, how it evolved, and how it shapes our liberties and certainties.

Economic trajectories into the future

The Digital Revolution started only about 40 years ago. While much of it is still in the future, some of the challenges and opportunities ahead are already clearly visible. In essence, there are two major forces at work: One is the breakthrough of information as the next dominant economic fuel, the other is the diversity of economic realities around the globe. Today, I’ll take a deeper look at this diversity and how it might evolve in the future.

What drives an economy in the very long run?

Just a few weeks ago, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the decision to award this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics to Paul Romer for integrating technological change into macroeconomic analysis. That’s a good reason for thinking through the long-term history of innovative activity, for investigating how technological change itself changed over time, and what the future might hold for us.

Seeing possibilities

At a global scale, how do you perceive the path of mankind? Getting better? Getting worse? Getting nowhere? Listening to our instincts, we are inclined to hold a gloomy, even bleak view of the current state and our future prospects. But is such pessimism at all justified? Should we rely on our guts? And what do the facts tell us? The big trends that shape the development of populations and define their health and wealth, these drivers of societal progress are the focus of Hans Rosling’s lifelong mission as a public health practitioner, researcher, and teacher.