IAB Engage: Why the web will fuel the 'peculiarly human habit' of innovation

Dr Matt Ridley: (picture credit: IAB Engage 2013)
Dr Matt Ridley: (picture credit: IAB Engage 2013)

Innovation comes from the exchanging of ideas and objects and is a "peculiarly human habit" that sets us apart from other species, according to psychologist Dr Matt Ridley.

Speaking at the IAB Engage conference today (17 October), which is themed around 'The Human Touch', Ridley said the "great secret" to innovation is it happens where people are able to meet and exchange ideas and is the reason why the internet is such a breeding ground of innovation.

Ridley described the internet as a "connected brain" that enables the creation of devices such as the iPhone through a collective intelligence rather than the individual intelligence of the past that used to drive inventions.

The ability to trade ideas and objects is unique to humans and does not happen in the natural world, Ridley said, citing economist Adam Smith's quote: "Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog."

Innovation can come from the meeting of anyone argued Ridley, as proved by the Pillcam, a camera that takes images inside the human body. The idea for the camera came about as a result of a conversation between a gastroenterologist and a guided missile designer.

The rise of innovation, Ridley said,  is "inexorable and inevitable". Inventions "choose" inventors rather than vice versa, he said, citing as evidence the fact that throughout history the same inventions are created at the same time in different parts of the world.

Ridley concluded by claiming the world has an "extraordinarily bright future if we get things right" as the global economy bounces back robustly and we become more equal.

He said: "Actually we are getting more equal all the time because people in poor countries are getting rich faster than people in rich countries". 


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message