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


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
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug