The tangled history of innovation reveals a peculiar lesson: Slow is often better than fast.
The current assumption is that innovation at its best hits like a hurricane. Austrian-American economist and political scientist Joseph Schumpeter, who first recognized the importance of innovation for economic growth, famously described innovation as coming in “gales,” sweeping aside all that came before.
But whether it’s biomedical, digital, or electromechanical, systems-level innovation requires human ingenuity, even wisdom. And the wise adaptation of advances in technoscience—in the design, engineering, and management of large knowledge-based systems that deliver energy, information, transportation, security, food, and health—takes time.
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