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Post Innovation in Humans, Bacteria
Created by John Eipper on 05/01/17 4:24 AM

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Innovation in Humans, Bacteria (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 05/01/17 4:24 am)

In my post of April 25th, I mentioned that humans are usually more fond of the status quo rather than change and innovation. John Eipper commented: "Isn't innovation what humans do best? ... Look at it this way--we are far better at innovating than at bringing justice to the world."

John's last sentence has the key to this apparent puzzle. Humans are good innovators at some things when they are forced to innovate or the benefits are clear like in the cases of business or war, for examples. Nothing is more true than necessity being the mother of invention. But innovation to achieve long-term benefits like from justice, getting along with rivals, changing business processes while attempting to improve customer service, the benefits are less obvious and it takes considerably more effort in leadership, cajoling, and even some form of butt-kicking. Such forms of innovation are closer to the Schumpeterian economic principles we were discussing in my last post.

Another interesting perspective regarding innovation is that biological evolution seems to be the most basic and powerful innovation process. Among bacteria today, the process of evolution (notwithstanding the religious deniers) would make Darwin very proud of his theory (a universal law as obvious as gravity).

Bacteria are winning the war against humanity. Because of our carelessness with using and abusing antibiotics, whichever bacteria are not killed genetically mutate into stronger and stronger (super bacteria) strains capable of surviving any of the presently available antibiotics. In some cases, the available arsenal has been proven useless and the bacteria have killed specific patients. To complicate the issue, because the profit margin from research on new antibiotics is relatively small, the pharmaceutical industry is less than motivated in this antibiotic war. So the bacteria are innovating faster (more effectively?) than the humans.

JE comments:  Shouldn't we make a distinction between innovation in (evolution) and innovation by?  The latter involves some form of intentionality.

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