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Technological capabilities, invisible infrastructure and the un-social construction of predictability: the overlooked fixed costs of useful research
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 21:58 authored by Paul NightingalePaul Nightingale
The paper explores the idea that unpredictability is a much more pervasive and important feature of technical change than is traditionally supposed. It explains how economically important interactions between scientific explanations and technology require the construction of very specific, artificially predictable conditions where explanations implications match technologies behaviour. The iterative construction of these localised predictable conditions from unpredictable starting materials relies on, generates, and is made easier by reusable social and physical infrastructure. The paper develops a non-tautological model of technological capabilities and provides a novel explanation for a range of empirical findings. Theoretical and policy implications are reported.
Department affiliated with
- SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications
NotesThis paper steers between the crude `linear model of science leading to technology and the almost equally crude social shaping of technology model to argue for `moderate unpredictability as counteracting the simple transfer of science into technology systems. An outcome is to shed new light through redefining the nature of `technological capabilities, adding to SPRUs contribution to this field of analysis.
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