Technology, convergence and innovation
by Cecilia Thirlway, on 4 Oct 2016 2 min read
“When we see a company like Theranos unravel from being a widely-lauded medical technology pioneer to being investigated in a criminal probe for misrepresenting its products, one of the reasons the scam could be perpetuated for so long was because the company, its founder and its investors all shielded themselves under the cultural cover of being a glamorous member of the “tech industry” rather than a prosaic medical supplier.”
According to Anil, calling a spade a spade (or a Facebook a media publisher, or information broker, instead of a tech company) would go a long way to addressing some of these issues.
Also recently, the Singularity Hub published a piece by Jason Ganz about convergence. Building on Kurzweil’s famous law of accelerating returns, Jason argues that many of the key future developments in technology will come not necessarily from the technology itself, but from combinations of different, exponential technologies that interact to bring another key breakthrough. So virtual reality and artificial intelligence could combine to create
“complex, sweeping and exponentially branching narratives”.
What these articles have in common is telling us not to focus too hard on the narrow definition of the technology itself, but on what it does, whether as a way of defining its industry or as a way of combining different fields to produce new outcomes. This is the key to successful innovation, and to framing an innovation challenge in a way that is most likely to find a solution. While the ‘let’s see what this can do’ approach is great up to a point for pushing the boundaries of technology, real innovation happens when a problem is solved - and it doesn’t matter whether it’s solved with new technology, or something already in existence but simply applied in a different way.
So keep an open mind when framing an innovation challenge on Solverboard: you may think you know what sort of technology will provide a solution, but could be pleasantly surprised by what Solvers come up with.