It is impossible to innovate from a position of total confusion. Part of that confusion, a large part I would argue, is because our so called innovators, the techno-elite, have misled the American people and the world about what exactly they have done and what they are capable of doing. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, etc., these things are talked and written about as if they are real things, breakthroughs even. In point of fact they are no such thing, they are computers computing as they always have only (slightly) faster, and running algorithms programmed with more complicated and interesting mathematical and statistical techniques. There is no such thing as artificial intelligence and maybe never can be. Machine learning is a logical contradiction and logically impossible. Yet, from what you see and read and hear you would think there are AI’s on every street corner and machines are busy learning away at the local university. Of course I do not really think that or believe it, but I guarantee you there are many, many, many more than you think who do believe that, or something very similar. And they are afraid, very afraid of what that means for them and their families. I don’t feel bad for the techno-elites, they made their own bed, and now they must lie in it, but I do feel bad for the average American who has one more fear this day to add to an ever growing list, and this is a fear of things which do not even exist. Who has time to innovate when there is so much to be afraid of.
Luckily, true innovation is still happening in many of the actual sciences. These advances aren’t nearly as flashy and they would’t make the nightly news or spawn a thousand Medium think pieces, but they are real. The scientists who are innovating are in the labs everyday designing experiments, analyzing data, working hard at science as it must be practiced to be successful. They are not on the front pages of the tabloids talking about sending electric cars to asteroids or whatever the fuck dumb ass thing 1970s mustachioed porn star/Captain Jack Harkness/Elon Musk just said. Real science moves at what seems a snails pace most of the time because it is a patient, thorough, and conservative process. Many times innovation comes before it is even recognized as such. True scientists do not set out with a goal of innovation or to innovate, they set out to explore and search and ask and answer. Innovation comes if they explore widely enough, search smartly enough, ask the right questions, and find the correct answers.