Innovation and the Power of Ignorance – The Case of Renewable Energy
Keywords:Philosophy of Science, Innovation, Behavioral Economics, Co-operation, Trade, Public Funding, Solar Power
Recognizing the limits of our knowledge and being dissatisfied with incomplete understanding is a major driver of scientific progress. Humanity’s experience over the last 300 years is ample demonstration of this. If we look carefully enough at the data, it is clear that we are progressing not only in terms of scientific discovery but in applications of science that are highly beneficial to our quality of life, such as medicine, agriculture, finance, transport and energy. Economic growth, in terms both of financial gain and improvement in real living standards, depends on creative thinkers who can mine and exploit such new knowledge, both as entrepreneurs and as policymakers. Public policymakers may err in the way new technology is applied, however, because they are not well-equipped to take into account the psychology of human reactions to innovation and change. Entrepreneurs with their own resources can exploit market forces to check whether an innovation is able to address the real needs and desires of the population, and if not, to change the application so that it does respond to true demand. The human thirst for knowledge seems only to accelerate rather than be satisfied by advances in knowledge and technology, so the opportunity for applying new science to human problems has a bright future. In Brunei, for example, one area could be the development of solar farms and other forms of renewable energy, for which we examine the pros and cons in this paper.