Saturday 19 October, 10.30am until 12.00pm, Frobisher Auditorium 1 Battle for technological progress
The 20th century saw great leaps forward in technology and innovation - from the mass production of cars to nuclear power to moon landings - and ended on something of a high with the internet. Can we expect even more from this century or have we reached a technological plateau? Were those breakthroughs just ‘low hanging-fruit’, as economist Tyler Cowen has argued, and are we going to have to work a lot harder to get ahead from now on? Certainly we have been waiting a good twenty years for long-heralded leaps forward in growth and productivity. Are there prototype innovations that just don’t reach a mass market because the costs are prohibitive? Would innovation be liberated if it was freed from the necessity of making a profit or, conversely, do we need the discipline of the market to weed out the mad inventors and pipe-dreamers and reward the genuine entrepreneur? Is the state be standing in the way of innovation, suffocating it with too much red tape and regulation and stifling dynamism with rules about health and safety or minimum wages? Do we need to free the market before it can deliver the goods?
Conversely, is the state failing to invest enough in long-term basic research? Was it always naïve to imagine that privatised innovation could do the business? Don’t we need scientists organised into research squads to a central plan? Do scientists even know what to look for, or have they become so specialised they can’t see the big picture? Do we need some real external stimulus to put us to work? A Cold War-style arms race or a threat of planetary annihilation? Or have we just fallen out of love with the science fiction dreams of yesterday like personal jetpacks? Do they feel like hubris now? What is the future for technology and innovation?
professorial fellow in technology management and chair for technology management, School of Management, University of Bath
head, Research and Advanced Systems Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover
board member, Centre for Economics and Business Research; economic advisor, British Chamber of Commerce
director, Russell Studio; visiting professor, Innovation Design Engineering, Royal College of Art; emeritus visiting professor, Central Saint Martins, UAL
Dr Nikos Sotirakopoulos
lecturer in sociology, University of Loughborough; author, The Rise of Lifestyle Activism: From New Left to Occupy
economist and business manager; author, Creative Destruction: How to start an economic renaissance
It may seem that innovation was written off by the recession but many companies are finding original ways to extend and promote their productsHelen Burnett-Nichols, Fund Strategy, 26 June 2013
Proposed regulations on Google’s search engine will slow innovationRichard Waters, Financial Times, 24 June 2013
Space exploration is remarkably compelling for most Americans, a challenging pursuit that distinguishes the United States as a global leader, while ensuring a steady stream of innovative technologies that strengthen the economy and, just as importantly, inspiring our youth to dream big.Eileen M. Collins & Nick Lampson, Huffington Post, 13 June 2013
Fears that innovation is slowing are exaggerated, but governments need to help it alongEconomist, 12 June 2013
The Government must think what it can do today to stay competitive in 10 years' time, says the chief executive of Imagination Technologies.Christopher Williams, Telegraph, 8 June 2013
These are exciting times for innovators. Arguably never before have the right opportunities, circumstances, and technologies come together as they have today to create such a fertile ground for the creation of new products and services. Yet one of the biggest obstacles along the way is the increasing burden of regulations. And the ones who suffer the most are startups.Shellye Archambeau, Xconomy, 25 March 2013
Archaeology: a load of old rubbish?
"I was impressed by the intensity of the debate and the high level of intellectual engagement, not least by the audience. It was an invigorating, even exhilarating experience to be part of a festival based on the conviction that disagreement is good. The Battle of Ideas is a fantastic concept, may it spread epidemically to the rest of the world. I am already looking forward to next year's event."
Thomas Hylland Eriksen, professor of social anthropology, University of Oslo; novelist