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"Everything you can imagine is real."— Pablo Picasso

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Sep
3rd
Sat
permalink
What Charles Darwin Owes to Adam Smith

“Ideas evolve by descent with modification, just as bodies do, and Darwin at least partly got this idea from economists, who got it from empirical philosophers. Locke and Newton begat Hume and Voltaire who begat Hutcheson and Smith who begat Malthus and Ricardo who begat Darwin and Wallace.

Before Darwin, the supreme example of an undesigned system was Adam Smith’s economy, spontaneously self-ordered through the actions of individuals, rather than ordained by a monarch or a parliament. Where Darwin defenestrated God, Smith had defenestrated government. Neatly, this year also sees a Smith anniversary, the 250th birthday of his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, a book that is very Darwinian in its insistence that sympathy is what we would today call innate, that people are naturally nice as well as naturally nasty.” “
Matt Ridley, English journalist, writer, The Spectator cited in Ronald Bailey, What Charles Darwin Owes to Adam Smith, Reason Magazine, January 12, 2009
Jul
17th
Sun
permalink
Eric Friedenwald-Fishman: ‘No art? No social change. No innovation economy’

“There is no discipline that nurtures and sparks the cognitive ability to imagine, and unleashes creativity and innovation, more than arts and culture. There is no approach that breaks barriers, connects across cultural differences, and engages our shared values more than arts and culture. There is no investment that connects us to each other, moves us to action, and strengthens our ability to make collective choices more than arts and culture.” “
— Eric Friedenwald-Fishman is the creative director/president of Metropolitan Group, No art? No social change. No innovation economy, Stanford Social Innovation Review, May 26, 2011
Apr
23rd
Sat
permalink
Humans have a tendency to fall prey to the illusion that their economy is at the very center of the universe, forgetting that the biosphere is what ultimately sustains all systems, both man-made and natural. In this sense, ‘environmental issues’ are not about saving the planet—it will always survive and evolve with new combinations of atom—but about the prosperous development of our own species.
Carl Folke is the science director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, Starting Over, SEED, Aprill 22, 2011. ☞ See also: Anthropocene: “the recent age of man”, The Economist
Jul
20th
Tue
permalink
Matt Ridley on innovation

“When Hero of Alexandria invented a steam engine in the first century A.D. and employed it in opening temple doors, news of his invention spread so slowly and to so few people that it may never have reached the ears of cart designers. Ptolemaic astronomy was ingenious and precise, if not quite accurate, but it was never used for navigation because astronomers and sailors did not meet.
The secret of the modern world is its gigantic interconnectedness. Ideas are having sex with other ideas from all over the planet with ever-increasing promiscuity. The telephone had sex with the computer and spawned the Internet.

Technologies emerge from the coming together of existing technologies into wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts. Henry Ford once candidly admitted that he had invented nothing new: He had “simply assembled into a car the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work.”

Inventors like to deny their ancestors, exaggerating the unfathered nature of their breakthroughs, the better to claim the full glory (and sometimes the patents) for themselves. Thus Americans learn that Edison invented the incandescent light bulb out of thin air, when his less commercially slick forerunners, Joseph Swan in Britain and Alexander Lodygin in Russia, deserve at least to share the credit.” “
Mar
31st
Wed
permalink
I feel like there’s this tension that goes on in business and especially in marketing, this conceit that we can take humans—you know, messy, irrational, organic—and somehow cut them open and figure out the binary, rational, predictable, money-making algorithms that determine what they do.

You see all this harnessing of science, you know, whether it’s neuro-this or lie detector-that or psychotherapy-this that gets used in the service of, not helping people, but helping marketers crack the nut of what people want, where is the desire center in the brain. You know, that we can learn things about people in a way that is “true”—that is predictable and true, and will determine consumption patterns. I find the idea that we should be able to do that just fascinating, because that’s not the world of people that we live in as people, so why as marketers or designers or producers do we think that we should turn people into things that they really aren’t?