Scientific progress has changed the world, including the nature of work. Two hundred years ago most people lived on the land. One hundred years ago most people still worked with their hands. Today most people think for a living. Industrial production is being replaced by cognitive production.
Many, perhaps most, of the jobs that people hold today did not even exist until recently. Not only does scientific and technological progress create jobs, it creates better jobs. We often describe human progress in terms of improved quality of life, and this includes the quality of work life. The progress of work is one of the greatest human achievements.
Given that the diffusion of scientific knowledge is fundamental to human progress, it follows that accelerating this diffusion will accelerate the progress of work. Speeding up science and technological development is not an end in itself. The goal is to speed up human progress. New jobs and new kinds of jobs will be the result, just as they have been.
Science itself has always been a cognitive production system, where finding and sharing ideas is just as important as having them. This collaborative model is now spreading throughout the world of work, driven by the Internet. At every level of society the grand challenge is to move the knowledge faster and more efficiently. In a cognitive production system, new knowledge is where jobs come from. The knowledge economy is driven by diffusion.
Moreover, scientific and technological breakthroughs are one of the few sources of rapid, large scale job creation. Social uptake of innovation can be explosive, marked by exponential growth. So if people want more jobs, or better jobs, knowledge on the move is the answer.
Senior consultant for Innovation