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Picture technology as a “buffer” between humans and their environment. With each new scientific discovery an environmental constraint is removed, and new resources, usually in the form of energy, become available for exploitation via new technologies.

We require energy in order to counter the constant tendency of the universe to become chaotic (i.e. counter entropy), and to build ever more complex structures needed to support progress. But since any new uncovered source of energy is finite, our civilization has to keep innovating in order to uncover new types of resources. Framed as a critical survival mechanism, innovation becomes much more than a “neat” buzzword. The steady state argument of being content with what we have doesn’t fly because, at any given time, maintaining steady state requires energy we derive from finite resources, such as fossil fuels.

Just like the universe has an in-built tendency for disorder (i.e. entropy), so it seems intelligent life has a natural affinity to discovery. Said differently, progress is not something we necessarily have control over, it’s (in) our destiny.

H.G. Wells remarked that “civilization is a race between disaster and education”. In light of the above, I would say that the race is rather between disaster and innovation. Our educational systems, particularly those related to management and organization, should instill imagination rather than build “static” knowledge and skills.

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