Email Updates

Enter your email address to receive updates and previews.

Promoting the Useful Arts 

Michael M. Rosen

Innovators need protection, not planning

Every once in a while,” says Dean Kamen, the famed inventor whose many creations include the Segway and the stair-climbing iBot wheelchair, “a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”

How exactly, though, do new technologies emerge? What characterizes their development? How can we foster and replicate technological progress — and get out of its way?

In his new book, How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom, British writer and member of the House of Lords Matt Ridley grapples with these major questions and accords them their due ­significance:

Innovation is the most important fact about the modern world, but one of the least well understood. It is the reason most people today live lives of prosperity and wisdom compared with their ancestors, the overwhelming cause of the great enrichment of the past few centuries, the simple explanation of why the incidence of extreme poverty is in global freefall for the first time in history: from 50 per cent of the world population to 9 per cent in my lifetime.

As such, a careful analysis of how, when, and why innovation blossoms is more than warranted. Many technological advances help economies to flourish, along the way improving the quality of life. Understanding this requires attention, which Ridley rigorously applies to his subject....

Not yet available online.
To read articles in print before they’re posted online, subscribe today.
4 issues ~ $24

Michael M. Rosen is an attorney and writer in Israel and an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.