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Invention and Innovation: A Brief History of Hype and Failure
October 2 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pmFree
This is a history of human ingenuity—and its attendant breakthroughs and busts.
The world is never finished catching up with Vaclav Smil. In his latest and perhaps most readable book, Invention and Innovation (MIT Press, February 2023) the prolific author pens an insightful and fact-filled jaunt through the history of human invention.
Impatient with the hype that so often accompanies innovation, Smil offers in this book a clear-eyed corrective to the overpromises that accompany everything from new cures for diseases to AI. He reminds us that even after we go quite far along the invention-development-application trajectory, we may never get anything real to deploy. Or worse, even after we have succeeded by introducing an invention, its future may be marked by underperformance, disappointment, demise, or outright harm.
Drawing on his vast breadth of scientific and historical knowledge, Smil explains the difference between invention and innovation. He then looks at three different types of inventions.
Filled with engaging examples and pragmatic approaches, this book is a sobering account of the folly that so often attends human ingenuity—and how we can, and must, better align our expectations with reality.
Read the book, come with an open mind, hear differing perspectives and uncover what your fellow readers think.
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