Thank you M Laurent Fabius and all 195 nation’s delegates for your achievements at COP21 in Paris today.
It is now time to pull together threads from earlier discussion to sketch a morphology for a generic system for innovation. Our earlier Black Boxes of Innovation can be combined with the idea that innovation is information made valuable through bioenergetic transformations. The black boxes then become green.
|In this generic system of innovation, inputs may include empirical information, other raw materials and energy.
These inputs are transformed in the Green Box into outputs comprising information that has been made valuable. This information may be embedded in products and services by commercial organisations. It may be conserved in the generic code and epigenetics that confer survival benefits to organisms. It may be the content of a newspaper or the legislation to govern a society.
The parameter values set the operational state of the Green Box.
The creation of valuable information through innovation and the replication of this information through production are intrinsically coupled within the Green Box.
The number of parameters can vary from zero to very many, each providing an extra degree of freedom or variability to the Green Box operations. Indeed the structure of this website has been designed around the concept of a Green Box with no parameters, as it provides a qualitative commentary that connects inputs to outputs. A more quantitative or algorithmic association between inputs and outputs may use parameters as operational variables for the Green Box – in weather forecasting for example.
The change of colour is used to indicate that the Green Box is not simply an automatic means of processing selected inputs into useful and valuable outputs. There are additional features that together establish a process of Innovation that is Making Information Valuable:-
- There is a dynamic search for relevant input information
- There is an integration of various inputs into a coherent interpretation, which may legitimately be challenged at any time by new findings and the output information appropriately modified
- There is an optimisation through which the value of the outputs is maximised for the available inputs
- Information creation through innovation and information replication through production are to varying degrees coupled within an innovation system
The above four points specify a generic behaviour for an abstract innovation system. In “Writing the Information” we consider how this behaviour arises from energy throughput and transformation in physical and biological systems, and we have extended this concept into the economic and societal domains.
The tree as a Green Box: Information creation through innovation (left) and information replication through production (right) are coupled in this biological system
An analogous behaviour of innovation systems with a tree-like morphology can be observed in various real physical, biological and economic settings which are considered below.
|Wolff’s law reveals that bones are continuously remodelling to enable a skeleton to adapt and be optimised to support loads to which it is exposed. In the ends of longs bones, such as at the hip joint of the femur shown here, there are filamentous tree-like trabecular structures of cancellous bone that channel the complex forces that are transmitted across the joint into the stiffer and stronger cortical bone below.
Remodelling also occurs in many other tissues through “mechano-transduction” mechanisms that are largely unknown, although collagen fibrils and tree-like proteoglycan structures have a role to play. Numerical models are being used to explore this specific Green Box of innovation.
|With every heartbeat blood gushes through the widest lumen of the aorta and outwards into the body, through finer intermediate arteries and down to the finest capillaries. This tiny capillary blood flow delivers oxygen and energy to the cells of adjacent tissues. Those tissues cut off from this energy supply will atrophy and die.
After the delivery of oxygen and energy is made, the vascular system will collect the outflow, which re-emerges in a series of confluences back into the mainstream venous bloodflow, back to the heart to become re-energised and to repeat this cycle through which energy is continuously allowed to flow to sustain life.
|News items emerge from interesting events in minor crevices of society and are transmitted through social networks and regional agencies into the major conduits of national and international press. In this way stories are selected to fill the columns of newspapers which flow out through their distribution channels to find their way onto the doorsteps of a nation the following morning, and onto the web pages of computers at any time of the day.
|Since the 1950’s the innovation of the shipping container has been responsible for a remodelling of transportation networks around new ports that provide docking hubs for massive container ships.
|And so it is with politics that one can identify analogous innovative patterns. Votes cast into the ballet boxes of democracies elect representatives who themselves channel their authority into Government by an executive, by a cabinet, that exercises their rights to develop policies that flow out through the tributaries of the state, back into the constituencies and on into the homes of the voter.
Taxes flow in a parallel conduit, from each member in that same society through into the huge central fiscal channel of the Government treasury, whereupon they are redistributed outwards according to the particular ideologies and macroeconomic priorities of the exchequer, back into the many small niches of the society from whence they came.
Innovation and production are economic activities. In his Économique et mécanique Leon Walras sought to explain that it was of little importance that physical phenomena can easily be measured whilst economic ones cannot …. because with each exchange, consciously or unconsciously, a person will know deep down whether his needs are satisfied or not in proportion to the value of the goods exchanged. Innovation and production within the generic Green Box can be explored using models and simulations of this perception and exchange of value.