The Corner

Politics & Policy

Uncommon Knowledge: How Innovation Works, with Matt Ridley

A true Renaissance man, Matt Ridley is a British journalist, a member of the House of Lords, a businessman, and the author of many publications, including The Rational Optimist, his very influential book about the innate human tendency to trade goods and services, which he argues is the source of all human prosperity. Ridley’s new book, How Innovation Works, chronicles the history of innovation and argues that we need to change the way we think about innovation, to see it as an incremental, bottom-up, fortuitous process that happens to society as a direct result of the human habit of exchange, rather than as an orderly, top-down process developing according to a plan. Ridley also discusses the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the world’s economies, the real story of Thomas Edison and why he was one of the greatest innovators in human history, why China may not be the threat it appears to be (at least not technologically), and some predictions as to what the world may look like in 2050.

Recorded on May 6th, 2020

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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