Can we dispense with the idea that capitalism drives innovation? Especially in things like for-profit healthcare and the like, but really across the board.

You know what drives innovation? Not profit motive, but sharing information and techniques. Capitalism promotes trade secrets and preventing other people from using and building on your work. It's geared toward a kind of innovation, the kind that maximizes profits. But for everything else, sharing is far and away more effective.

Science has always worked like that, of course. It's one reason why attacks on the ability of scientists to collaborate like Russia has periodically done and even in he Harper years in Canada, have resulted in such an outcry. Working together and using each others' data is part of the process.

But it's not just science. For a very different example, look at animation. The field wouldn't be what it is today, if Disney didn't make public techniques that were, at the time, guarded trade secrets.

Having the Nine Old Men codify animation techniques and then make them available to just anybody meant more animators could learn the craft without having to invent everything from square one.

By contrast, look how Disney taking an exclusivity deal with Paramount for the new Technicolor technology effectively forced rival Fleischer Bros. out of business. That's what capitalism does. It's not a driver of innovation, but rather stifles cooperation.

@Nezchan oh huh

yeah that raises the question of why ppl elevate the free market as the only way to have technological progress, when the (admittedly flawed) scientific world is a totally different model that's operated very, very well on entirely different principles

hmm, can't possibly imagine why


Hell, it's as simple as realizing that the "free market" as it's talked about today is a pretty recent concept and there were loads of innovations prior to that.

But aside from the sheer desire for profit, a lot of cleaving to this stuff is ideological and any failure is due to not doing it *enough*.

@Nezchan i'm starting to think at some point the "free market" was supposed to be something like a timed chess match between opponents or something - subject to transparent rules that keep things fair

and now there's still chess matches, but threatening your opponent's family, poisoning your opponent, knocking over the board, bribing officials, tampering with the clock and forcibly buying out the host to make them change the rules are all legal

@Nezchan Capitalism has also made direct efforts to stifle innovation whenever it didn't suit its profit motives.

@Nezchan I think You Tube has shown us that mostly, Capitalism rips off Actual innovation.

Plenty of weird folks making stuff on Youtube just because they Can. Not getting paid much last I checked.

Capitalists: Capitalism drives innovation!

Also Capitalists: We have made the 495th reskin of Pokemon Go since it sold well.

Doge: Such Capitalism. Much innovation. Very profitable.

@Nezchan there are tons of "innovations" being sat on by the patent holders and their absolute best hope to make money off it is someone infringing their patent and them suing



@Nezchan So far, the only thing I have seen that capitalism drives better than anything else is cheap gadgets. Maybe innovation in that space alone might be credited to it.

@Nezchan Yes, yes we can.

You can look at this from several dynamics.

Gregory Clark in *A Farewell to Alms" notes that most of the great inventors of the 1st Industrial Revolution benefited and profited *neither* from their inventions *nor* the patents awarded on them.

You can extend that list to Rudolph Deisel and Milo Farnsworth, as well as (largely) the Wright Brothers, and many others.

@Nezchan And Norbert Wiener made much the same point regarding WWII secrecy classifications and the impediments this posed to research *in excess of* the restraints on enemy work on the same technologies.

I believe that's a principle reason for his relative unpopularity following WWII.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Wandering Shop

The Wandering Shop is a Mastodon instance initially geared for the science fiction and fantasy community but open to anyone. We want our 'local' timeline to have the feel of a coffee shop at a good convention: tables full of friendly conversation on a wide variety of topics. We welcome everyone who wants to participate, so long as you're willing to abide by our code of conduct.