Richard Jefferson maintains that innovation – the ability to make and use tools to solve problems – is a defining state of Homo sapiens, and therefore a basic human right.
But our innovation system is broken. We need to shift the demographics away from innovation as the province of a few high priests with access to patents, intellectual property and resources. We need to democratize innovation. We need to move to an open source paradigm.
Jefferson talks about the innovation landscape as a sort of dynamic puzzle for which we need a map. If more people have access to this map – the patents and processes that make breakthroughs possible – then we’ll get more breakthroughs. Especially in areas that business-as-usual has deemed “low margin” and hence has taken little action. You know, things like the environment, hunger, poverty.
It’s all about using that map to locate and avoid risks, especially if you perceive the rewards to be marginally profitable. How are we doing? Not so well, in spite of things like wikipedia, google and the web. A lot of the high value information is still locked up. Sure, many info-tech, bio-tech, agri-tech and finance-tech organizations put a lot of information out there, but if you want the ‘valuable’ stuff, you’ve got to pay. That doesn’t work so well for about ninety percent of the world’s population.
How do we unlock this information? We fundamentally change our innovation system to an open source model. Jefferson has created several innitiatives for doing exactly this through his nonprofit organization, Cambia. He’ll run through these examples on Monday 28 March, 7PM at the First Congregational Church (1126 SW Park). See http://www.illahee.org/lectures