Technologies as artificial agents

We use technologies to interact with our physical environment, essentially to obtain energy and raw material, and to transform them into "whatever it is that we need". Until recently, technologies were firmly "under our thumb". That historic certainty is fading fast. In that emerging story, robots, algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence feature as prominent examples.

Policy innovation at work

Today I'll present a timely example and, I hope, an inspiring glimpse of how European policy-making actually works. It goes like this: On 4 July, economics professor Mariana Mazzucato spoke in Helsinki about the mission-oriented approach to research and innovation that the Union should adopt. Questions will come readily to your mind: Why now? Why there? Why she? And of course: So what? Let's go through.

Exploring the adjacent possible – How we make progress

We have everything today that we need to shape tomorrow. All the ingredients for our future are available to us in the here and now. That is the very essence of progress: the future flows from the past, we shape it on the foundation of the past. We "only" need to find out how we can best combine the available ingredients to get the next task done. That's what we call progress. And we can make progress in different ways ...

Some inspiration for 2019

As the old year draws to a close, the holiday season offers a much-needed break from everyday busy-ness to rest, to reflect, to put recent events into longer-term perspective. It's the time for racking and stacking and sorting the ideas that have accumulated, and to think ahead. To give my fuzzy observations an initial structure for some systematic follow-up, I've composed a preliminary reading list for the new year that I’m sharing here.

The Gordian Knot of innovation?

When you think about the flow of useful knowledge through society, and then imagine how that flow enables innovation, you'll realize a massive entanglement. At first glance, there is a myriad of different connections between people, processes, and locations: these are the tangible pieces of the puzzle. At second glance, you'll find that they all play some role in the generation, dissemination, and application of useful … Continue reading The Gordian Knot of innovation?