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FMI Public Speaker Series

November 2  


How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom — November 2

Matt Ridley Event Image

This event is free and open to the TTU community and the general public.

About the Program

Innovation is the main event of the modern age, the reason we experience both dramatic improvements in our living standards and unsettling changes in our society. Forget short-term symptoms like Donald Trump and Brexit, it is innovation that will shape the twenty-first century. Yet innovation remains a mysterious process, poorly understood by policy makers and businessmen alike.

Dr. Ridley argues that we need to see innovation as an incremental, bottom-up, fortuitous process that happens as a direct result of the human habit of exchange, rather than an orderly, top-down process developing according to a plan. Innovation is crucially different from invention, because it is the turning of inventions into things of practical and affordable use to people.

Innovation speeds up in some sectors and slows down in others. It is always a collective, collaborative phenomenon, involving trial and error, not a matter of lonely genius. It happens mainly in just a few parts of the world at any one time. It still cannot be modeled properly by economists, but it can easily be discouraged by politicians. Far from there being too much innovation, we may be on the brink of an innovation famine.

About the Speaker

Matt Ridley's books have sold over a million copies, been translated into 31 languages and won several awards. His books include The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (Harper Perennial, 2003), Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (Harper Perennial, 2006), The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (Harper Perennial, 2010) and The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge (Harper Perennial, 2016), and How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom (Harper Perennial, 2021).

Dr. Ridley joined the House of Lords in February 2013 and has served on the science and technology select committee and the artificial intelligence select committee. He was founding chairman of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle, created the "Mind and Matter" column in The Wall Street Journal in 2010, and was a columnist for The Times from 2013-2018.

Dr. Ridley is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently resides in Northumberland. 

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