How to Spur Innovation, Advance Human Progress, and Make Yourself Smarter

Pundits of late have been lamenting the decline of technological innovation. Has the rate of innovation in fact slowed down? And if so, how can we best revive it and speed up the rate of economic progress?

Independent Institute Research Director Alex Tabarrok offers his penetrating insights on this hot topic in his new e-book, Launching the Innovation Renaissance: A New Path to Bring Smart Ideas to Market Fast. Just published by TED Books and inspired in part by Tabarrok’s 2009 TED talk, this manifesto makes the case for rethinking our current approaches to education, patents, immigration, and more.

Here is the official product description for the book:

Unemployment, fear, and fitful growth tell us the economy is stagnating. The recession, however, is just the tip of iceberg. We have deeper problems. Most importantly, the rate of innovation is down. Patents, which were designed to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, have instead become weapons in a war for competitive advantage with innovation as collateral damage. College, once a foundation for innovation, has been oversold. We have more students in college than ever before, for example, but fewer science majors. Regulations, passed with the best of intentions, have spread like kudzu and now impede progress to everyone’s detriment. “Launching the Innovation Renaissance” is a fast-paced look at how we can accelerate innovation and build a solid 21st-century economy.

Here’s some advance praise for it:

“If you’re a fan of like I am, you’ll want to read Tabarrok’s latest book. If you’re interested in innovation like I am, you need to read Launching the Innovation Renaissance. Alex poses thought experiments from patents to prizes, from health to education to immigration. He skewers Soviet-style employment bargains and offers insightful alternatives to improve our educational system. Alex is occasionally snarky, often witty, always incisive. Read this on your next flight.”
—Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Open Education Solutions; former President, The X PRIZE Foundation; former Executive Director of Education, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

For those of you who still prefer to read a “real” book—that venerable paper relic that you can dog ear, scribble your own illegible but brilliant margin notes in, and don’t need an electronic gadget to read—be sure to check out Tabarrok’s very relevant 2002 book, Entrepreneurial Economics: Bright Ideas from the Dismal Science.

And Beacon readers, please share with us your top proposals for spurring technological innovation and advancing material progress.

Carl Close is Research Fellow and Senior Editor for The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review and editor of The Lighthouse, The Independent Institute’s weekly e-mail newsletter.
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