Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Who’s in Charge?

Peter W.B. Phillips

New technologies often appear to be beyond the control of any existing governing systems. This is especially true for transformative technologies such as information technologies, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. Peter Phillips examines in this book the deep governing structures of transformative technology and innovation in an effort to identify which actors can be expected to act when, under what conditions and to what effect. He analyzes the life cycles of an array of examples where converging technologies have created transformations and supervisory challenges.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Peter W.B. Phillips

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, public policy

Extract

The next time you consume a french fry, potato crisp, boiled, baked, mashed or scalloped potato, gnocchi, vichyssoise, perogie or pre-cooked fish, beef or poultry, stop and think about how that food got to your plate. Each of those foods has a component derived from potatoes. On an average day, seven out of every eight people in developed countries such as Australia, Canada, European nations and the US consume one or more food products containing potatoes or potato ingredients and one in six consumers in developing countries eats some potato daily. Many consumers will also drink alcohol, such as vodka, produced from potatoes or eat meat from animals fed on potato pulp feed.1 In addition to food uses, potatoes are also a major source of industrial starches. The starch extracted from potatoes through industrial wet milling, refining and drying is valuable to a variety of industries, including the paper and board industries, especially for paper/pulp surface sizing. Potato starch and its derivatives are also used for textiles, adhesives, surfactants, polymers, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. There have also been efforts to use potato fibrous materials as bulk filters for plastics. The humble potato would hardly seem to be an auspicious example of how to examine global transformations caused by converging technologies. To many it will seem to be a timeless and never-changing food, reserved for the table of the poor and oppressed. Economists somewhat derisively use the potato famine in Ireland in the 1800s to illustrate the Giffen paradox, where demand for...