This morning's keynote was from aeronautical superstar Burt Rutan, giving a low-BS explanation of why innovation doesn't usually happen in technical pursuits, and how to encourage it (and presumably come up with more cool stuff like his Spaceship 2, shown above). Key points:
>>" Your ability to innovate is inversely proportional to your client's self-perceived sophistication." This is why, for example, Rutan's company Scaled Composites could never have built a spaceship for NASA--they're too sure of their own expertise to take risks.
>>Innovation occurs in periods of adversity. In the 60s we went to the moon, in the 80s we never broke low earth orbit
>>The early phases of new technologies see incredible innovation because capabilities and limitations are unknown: 1904-1912 saw nearly every aspect of modern aviation worked out in just eight years.
>>There's a dearth of qualified engineers in the US because engineering is neither exciting nor inspiring; by contrast, the children who grew up in that 1904-1912 period grew up to become the aerospace innovators of the space age.
>>View all AU2008 coverage here.