A Tale of Cities: Continuous Innovation

This week we are speaking with Dr. Geoffrey West from the Sante Fe Institute about the behavior and development of cities – beginning with the universal scaling laws that transcend biology and how those laws are found in the development of cities as well.  We discuss how, “there’s a formula for that” and what it this means for the future of the city. According to Dr. West’s research, cities must continually innovate, and innovate faster and faster to survive.

What innovation can be thought of in this picture is you reset the clock, because you have reset the boundary conditions and you start all over again. When you discover coal, invent computers… this has profound affects throughout society and profoundly affects the parameters of the network... If you want to have continuous open ended growth, you have to have continuous regular systematic cycles of innovation … there is a heavy price to pay, and that is you have to innovate faster and faster... something that might have taken 1,000 years to develop 10,000 years ago only takes 25 years to develop… it’s very bad in this respect to be on an exponential curve, everything happens in the last second, and you don’t know it’s coming…   

Geoffrey West


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