The End of Invention

4.0/5

Critic Rating

Someone born in the late 19th century would have lived through the most rapid period of technological progress in human history. By comparison, people born since the Second World War have seen stagnation and sclerosis. At least, that’s what some people claim - that we are living through “the great stagnation”. The productivity of scientists and inventors is slowing - and economist Sam Bowman is worried. There are fewer new drugs coming to market, and it takes more and more people to make smaller computer chips. It takes longer for PhD students to finish their studies, and research grants go to ever older scientists. The balance of research funding has shifted from government to companies, and companies look for profitable inventions rather than necessarily revolutionary ones. It looks as though big new ideas are getting harder to find. Can we fix the system, or are we doomed to permanent slowdown? Presenter: Sam Bowman Producer: Jolyon Jenkins Executive Producer: Katherine Godfrey Sound Design & Engineering: Rob Speight A Novel production for BBC Radio 4


Critic Reviews

Score: 4

James Marriot • The Times UK Apr 1, 2022

"As a pessimist, I enjoyed Sam Bowman’s Radio 4 documentary about the decline of innovation and scientific breakthroughs...The blistering change that arrived after the Industrial Revolution may turn out to have been a historical blip."

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