Evolution and Innovation

Exaptation is the process of borrowing an already-developed biological trait and using that trait for something else entirely. According to evolutionary biologists, proto-birds evolved feathers for temperature regulation. Once the feathers became more developed, they also happened to also be beneficial for controlling airflow over the surface of the wing allowing the birds to glide. As feathers eventually became more asymmetrical, birds gained the advantage of flying. Feathers adapted for warmth eventually became exapted for flight. A similar process happens in technology. Well-developed technologies are exapted for use in creating new technologies. Gutenberg took the already developed wine-press and used it to press type onto paper. He used exaptation to design the movable type printing press.

Diversity leads to innovation. Large cities produce more innovation that small cities. As technologies (cultural, and technical) develop in one idea-space, the potential for that technology to migrate to another idea-space increases. As migration in a network increases, exaptation increases which increases the quantity of technology. As the quantity of technologies increase, the speed of innovation increases. To the extent that the internet becomes one large diverse city-network, innovation will likely continue increase at an accelerated rate.