Is technology a machine for creating itself?
Developing a statistical physics model of recursive innovation in which technologies become the building blocks for new technologies.
Technologies, such as touch screens, PCR and GPS, are made up of component building blocks. But when a technology is sufficiently common, it is given a name and used as a component in its own right. In this way technologies are made up of more primitive technologies in a hierarchical way. For instance, the components of GPS are satellites, atomic clocks and receivers. GPS is also a component in subsequent technologies, such as guided missiles and earthquake monitors.
In this project we develop a statistical physics model of recursive innovation in which technologies can become building blocks for new technologies. Our hypothesis is that innovation in the present proceeds in such a way as to increase the likelihood of innovating in the future. To the extent that it does not, it offers the possibility of speeding up the process by intervening.
Man’s capacity to innovate is at the heart of technological change and drives economic growth. A theory of recursive innovation will help identify opportunities for governments, firms and funders to increase the rate of innovation by making specific interventions, tailored to different sectors. It will also provide researchers in technology and engineering a quantitative basis for their design decisions.