Technology Innovation And The Law Of Diminishing Returns



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  • The chequered history of science and applied science (technology) seems to have actually started with a bang, some 300 or 400 years ago, but has now abysmally ended in a whimper – with its ‘cognitive’ foundations becoming ever more shaky and as rickety as a wooden chair.

    It may be, therefore, worth tracing the historical antecedents of human discovery, invention and innovation; in other words, the so called great transformation from the ‘why’ of things to the ‘how’ of it – thereby, negating not only the ancient ‘sense of inquiry’ to know more and more about more and more, but, more importantly, reducing or narrowing down the very purpose of cognition to knowing more and more about less and less.

    But, what was really the cognitive or connitive goal of the ancient knowledge-seekers? In this answer or response lies the chief distinction between knowledge for enlightenment and knowledge for effective demand (in economic parlance). It is the relentless and desperate pursuit of the latter that ultimately led to the naïve and concocted understanding of the Cosmos, merely in terms of the workings of a mundane or monotonous mechanical device, such as, the clock.

    But, then, does the Cosmos or planet Earth actually function like a clock? In other words, is it really possible to capture the imagination, depth and magnitude of the Cosmos within a set of laws, based on superfluous assumptions? Or, to take it even further, does the human mind really have what it takes to unravel the mysteries of the Universe? – Let alone confiscating, commanding and controlling it.

    An interesting and queer revelation of the progression of science and technology has been that, the more rational and civilised a society becomes, the more irrational (violent) and uncivilised (brutal) has been its attitude and behaviour. For example, let us consider the case of the twentieth century: besides, the two world wars, extreme poverty, human misery and gross injustice have been both unparalleled and unrivalled in the annals of human history.

    Another very strange thing about the much-touted scientific revolution is its snobbish ridiculing of native, ethnic and vernacular wisdom, thereby, making a complete mockery of its own obsession with seeking the ultimate truth.  It is this dominance and/or monopoly of modern science over all other forms of seeking wisdom that has resulted in pseudo-science, making the whole scientific establishment or enterprise devoid of any credibility – a mere ideology in outlook, that is unequivocal as prose and unevocative as poetry, pre-emptive of metaphor, and studded and punctuated with euphemisms.

    Similarly, another very thought-provoking example is the field of agriculture. The mechanisation and industrialisation of food production has resulted by and large in factory farming. The high external input of artificial fertilisers and pesticides, HYVs, GMOs, irrigation and the like, have caused a vicious cycle of involution, thereby, making the output inversely proportional to the input.

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