Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex

I was intrigued to learn about I, Pencil, an essay by Leonard Read, through this TED talk by British author Matt Ridley, who speaks about the meeting and mating of ideas that encourage innovation. He mentioned it with reference to how most of us don’t really know the whole story behind things – like how to make a computer mouse, or, as the essay says, even a pencil.

Some quotable quotes from his talk:

(…) So we’ve created something called the collective brain – we’re just the nodes in this network, we’re the neurons in this brain. It’s the interchange of ideas – the meeting and mating of ideas between them – that is causing technological progress, incrementally, bit by bit, however many bad things happen. In the future, as we go forward, we will of course experience terrible things: there will be wars, there will be depressions, there will be natural disasters, awful things will happen in this century, I’m absolutely sure.

But I’m also sure because of the connections people are making, the ability of ideas to meet and to mate as never before, I’m also sure that technology will advance and living standards will advance. Because through the cloud, through crowdsourcing, through the bottom-up world that we’ve created where not just the elites but everybody is able to have their ideas and make them meet and mate, we are surely accelerating the rate of innovation.

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