Although measuring scientific progress is an arduous task, even much more than measuring economic progress, a good indicator is the number of registered patents. Particularly when compared to investment in R&D .
If we find that it is increasingly difficult to obtain patents and it is more expensive to do so, then we have to assume that in the process (transformation of information into knowledge) it is more burdensome for some reason .
Noise and signal
The global production of patents is seven million every year, and the largest producer is China, with more than 700,000 patents; Japan, on the other hand, is one of the largest producers of patents by number of inhabitants, producing 2,884 patents per million inhabitants .
According to statistician Nate Silver , author of the book The Signal and the Noise: How to navigate the web of data that floods us, locate the data that are relevant and use it to make infallible predictions , the reason that patents are increasingly expensive is in which we increasingly confuse the noise with the signal in the information that surrounds us, investing our time in following false tracks:
During the 1960s, the United States spent approximately $ 1.5 million (adjusted for inflation) for each patent filed by an American inventor. Yet far from declining, that number only grew during the dawn of the information age, peaking at approximately $ 3 million in 1986, double the number 25 years earlier.
Research productivity started to grow again in the 1990s, probably because we eventually took a more realistic view of what new technology could do for us.
Although we got into several dead ends, computers gradually began to facilitate our daily life and favor the economy.
Prediction stories are usually stories of long-term progress, arrived at after short-term setbacks. Many companies that seem predictable in the long run thwart our immediate plans.
The exponential growth of information, then, is not a panacea: it carries its own problems . That 90 percent of all the information available today has been created in recent years means that we must manage more information, and that predictions can be correct, but the probability of failure also increases.
Before demanding more data, we must demand more of ourselves.