Reverse Engineering the Future with Curiosity-Driven Research

I wonder if commercial incentives might not destructively inhibit and limit the possible range and diversity of all possible research and applications. By which I mean that decoupling curiosity-driven research from purely commercial incentives might open up a much vaster state space of combinatorial possibility than could otherwise exist or be beneficially investigated.

It would be interesting to measure the sum of all marginal gains in commercially-driven research against the unexpected paradigm shifts that can come from pure blue-skies experimentation. Being that one is determinate and the other is decidedly non-linear, can a happy medium exist between them?

Unexpected discoveries are not, strictly speaking, predictable but can be more consequential – commercially, strategically, existentially. Are we risk-managing degrees of intellectual freedom?

If investment as funding is implicit in all research, does this then incentivise a very narrow, if indefinitely-extensible, branching tree of technological futures? Or does it simply shape it in ways that maximally self-validate and reproduce commercial imperatives?

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