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CNN Seminar - Understanding Technology Pathway of Society from U.S. patents

When Feb 17, 2015
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Keynes Hall in King's College
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Title: Understanding Technology Pathway of Society from U.S. patents
1) Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School,
Walton Well Rd, OX2 6ED, Oxford
2) Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
3) Santa Fe Institute, 1399 Hyde Park Rd, Santa Fe NM 87501, USA

Technology’s advance is central to our understanding of economic growth and development. Furthermore, solutions for many of the planet’s most pressing challenges – economic recovery, poverty reduction, climate change, sustainability – require significant additions to society’s technological toolkit. Yet, our ability to quantitatively model and forecast technological change has been limited due to difficulties in defining units of analysis and in collecting comparative empirical data. Some inventions, namely patents, however, leave behind a documentary trail, enabling us to study the invention processes in a quantitative way. Here, we propose to develop a formal methodology to construct detailed technology "map" and its temporal evolution from large-scale U.S. Patent data spanning 220 years. We utilize the classification system consisting of codes as temporally consistent units of analysis (nodes). These technology codes are means to succinctly describe a patent’s technology capabilities. When codes appear together in a patent, therefore, we consider them inter-dependent to make a useable function and represent this inter-dependency by assigning a link to between them. These micro-scale invention activities add up to form networks in time where macro-scale structures emerge through temporal evolution of community structure. We observe and identify episodic change of structure over time corresponding to historic events and major breakthroughs, indicating the technology change is not gradual but serious of punctuated equilibriums.