The problem of research innovation or "disruptiveness" seems like a good riddle at the moment for anyone interested in understanding what we often call "technological progress". Holden Karnofsky talks about it in these blog posts, but it felt worth sharing that the science world is noticing too.
It's a simple problem to articulate:
The number of science and technology research papers published has skyrocketed over the past few decades — but the ‘disruptiveness’ of those papers has dropped.
What explains this phenomenon?
“The data suggest something is changing,” says Russell Funk, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and a co-author of the analysis, which was published on 4 January in Nature. “You don’t have quite the same intensity of breakthrough discoveries you once had.”
Is it something about the way science is practiced? Is it academia and the publish-or-perish pressure? A few difficult questions to think about in 2023.