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Our judgments of importance are as much a measure of social custom as they are of assessed originality and value. So we have a problem in definition or methodology here.

We already know Bunch and Hellemans are not independently counting the ability to make and deliver more of something at an affordable cost (e.g., innovation diffusion), which always involves additional and separate innovations beyond those culminating in the first prototype.

Furthermore, the second derivative of world population growth went negative for the planet in the 1970's (this was the inflection point in the S-curve for global population) and even for India and Africa in the 1990's.

Several independent estimates now project our total world population to hit a maximum circa 2050, followed by an accelerating decline thereafter, a time when even emerging nations will exhibit the "technological contraceptive" effect we now see in the first world, where non-immigrant birth rates (1.3, 1.5, 1.7 etc.

which allow them to make GDP and technology advances using a fraction of the time and resources required by their first world predecessors. [6]Such trends make it seem obvious to me, though it might not be so to others, that as technological progress increasingly satisfies current human needs, individuals become less concerned with technological development and turn more toward personal growth, unique experiences, and other activities which, while equally creative on an individual level, are less obvious examples of innovation in a technological sense.

Who would have anticipated, for example, that Chile would already have 428 mobile phones per 1,000 people today, while the U. , 1997) has extensively documented this predictable value shift in industrializing countries.

Let's deal first with his patent data, which I believe are less valid, and then move on to the other method of his argument, which is potentially more interesting. He suggests this distribution looks "most" like a bell curve, that the 1985-1999 spike is only a temporary anomaly, and that the per capita "innovation rate" of the U. I do not know why Huebner's patents graph didn't have data more recent than an average from 1990-1999 as its most recent point. Today, patenting frequency may be more a function of their perceived litigation value to U. corporations, which varies by industry and judicial context, rather than of perceived business utility to individual inventors, as may have occurred in the age of greater individual invention in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

With regard to Huebner's treatment of the Bunch and Helleman data, normalizing an innovation rate to total world population also has its problems.Johnathan Huebner, an independent scholar, proposes to show that the rate of human innovation has been steadily declining since the industrial revolution, and is headed toward an "economic limit" of very low apparent innovation that will be reached circa 2038.He makes his argument using two different methods: U. patent data and "important innovation" data, subjectively assessed by one account. patent data which show that, when normalized to total U. population, there was a patenting peak in 1914, a significant drop from 1914-1985 to 50% of the 1914 value, and a recent rise between 19 back to 75% of the 1914 value. Huebner's curve is at right, reprinted by permission of Elsevier/Looking for more recent data, I went to the same general sources ([1] U. PTO data for patents, but using different official US PTO tables at the site, and [2] U. Census data for population), and found that patents today, per capita, are back up to 95% of the 1914 peak (see [3] for my calculations). patents were issued to individuals, but in 1999, more than four out of five were issued to corporations.As one potential explanation, we must consider the possibility that human-initiated innovation, like energy consumption and population growth, is a process that naturally saturates with rising global income levels and technological intelligence.Shell International's 2001 report [5] ," summarizes IMF and British Petroleum data which note that in every economy where per capita GDP goes above ,000/year (e.g, the U.

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