Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Sustainable Innovation

Just listening to Judy Estrin, CEO of JLabs. Some thoughts...

Judy believes that we are presently in an innovation deficit - we are reaping the fruits of innovation seeds sown many years or even decades are go, and are not planting enough seeds today for the future.

So, how can we use the digital economy to up the pace of sustainable innovation?

Diverse perspectives are critical to innovation - and so the Sandpit process (hope day 2 is going well!).


藤野ロウフ said...

Whether or not we are in an innovative deficit is highly debatable. However I do feel that having a slump in innovation may actually benefit society for a short period. It would allow for the current wave to settle and mature, creating a good base with which to move off from again.

I do beleive though, that everyone can agree that a well built and organised structure is better than one which is hastley put together. For example, we still lack a standardised power plug design.

digitaldoc said...

Just read 'The Innovation Gap' which offers some useful examples drawn from the US experience and strongly recognises the need to design and develop sustainable solutions that shift our reliance on carbon based fuels etc.

藤野ロウフ said...

(I apologize for my long winded comment)

Yes, however that is partially true when considering fuel and global warming crisis. This innovation in some areas is highly controlled and guided in its results and side effects, making it in some instances very helpful and at other times a great waste. A lot of innovations are put into production as soon as they are developed even if they are only small improvements. They are being used as gimmicks and may actually be costing us more rather than less. For example, a lot of the solar panels currently produced and in circulation in areas where they do not get a enough sunlight, like deserts, actually cost more energy to produce than ultimately provide. So you have a lot of solar panels out there that are contributing more to global warming than they help, this is without considering disposal costs and despite their noble goal.
Current fuel efficient cars are even worse, we keep on producing slightly more efficient cars and people keep on buying these new cars and other new cars. I am curious how much energy is actually saved when you consider the cost of energy put in to make those cars (don't forget the shipping of goods around the world), especially the ones that aren't even sold and then you have to get rid of the old vehicles which also costs energy and pollution. Maybe it would have been better to make everyone keep using their current cars and wait until a car is a great deal more efficient, then change over in one big fell swoop, rather than with every new innovation/model.
If the approach had been more slow, measured and a more focused approach, waiting until an innovation had been more fully explored than it otherwise had been and you could prevent a lot of waste.

Again that is only when considering global warming, if you were to consider other areas of innovation like digital technology, you have so many groups innovating in different directions at such high speeds that we create a lot of the problems we complain about, standardisation, a lack of integration of the older generations in IT etc. This most likely due to a lack of control and foresight, that can only be achieved through slower and a more manageable rate innovation.