Last time, I told you about TED 2007 and I noticed Nathan Myhrvold (former MicroSoft CTO –he founded MicroSoft Research) in the speaker list. That prompted me to visit his site, Intellectual Ventures, home of his “invention company”:
Intellectual Ventures is an invention company. We conceive and patent our own inventions in-house through a world-renowned staff of internal and external scientists and engineers. We also acquire and license patented inventions from other inventors around the world. Our network of invention sources includes: large and small businesses, governments, academia, and individual inventors. These inventions span a diverse range of technologies including: software, semiconductors, wireless, consumer electronics, networking, lasers, biotechnology, and medical devices. Our current focus is on developing our invention portfolio. Over time, we intend to market our portfolio on a broad and non-exclusive basis through a variety of channels including spin-out companies.
In the November issue of IP Investor (PDF), it is said that Intellectual Ventures has filed about 400 patents, and Nathan Myhrvold slams eBay for having filled only “10 patents or 11 patents” —big companies need patents “for the future”, he says. It would be interesting to know how many patents BetFair has filled —BetFair, like eBay, is a peer-to-peer exchange.
Of course, once you have transitioned from “invention” to “innovation”, the road does not end there: more than 75% of new products fail.
All this to come back to Robin Hanson’s invention, the concept of decision markets (a market-generated automatism to extract the wisdom of crowds and make it a better decision tool than managers or politicians), which he spams at each conference he is invited in. As I wrote two times, it’s a solution in search for a problem. I would see only two applications (last time I said “only one”, but I got a new idea):
– As I said, series of decisions that are NEVER taken by senior executives.
– In the coming two decades, imaginary universes (like Second Life) are going to meet with prediction markets. Once we are there, we can imagine a Second Life sub-universe filled with libertarians, playing with imaginary prediction markets. Then, yes, if the gamers agree, imaginary decision markets could rule —both at the macro and micro levels.
More Resources On Innovation:
– Innovators share the lessons they’ve learned during 2006 – (a hodgepodge of ideas taken from various thinkers)