Designing Innovation Networks Modeled on Life's Origins & Evolution

Posted in Conferences, Companies on March 20, 2009

Highly innovative organizations face a constant challenge to process a flood of good ideas, both generated by employees and submitted from outside. In the wake of Google's Tenth Birthday Competition, this talk describes how innovation networks apply principles found in life's origins and evolution to "processing innovation." Debates about how novelty emerged in the origin of life and its evolution toward complexity demand revising assumptions that we've taken for granted. Steven Jay Gould said that "Darwinism" misrepresents Darwin.

A more complete interpretation of Darwin's theory of evolution could inspire new problem-solving methods with a range of practical applications, from multi-agent systems able to learn and improve their performance to cross-disciplinary decision support systems designed to address environmental sustainability challenges. Objective. To discuss nine principles of innovation networks and the problem-solving method they support.

Speaker: Zann Gill
Zann Gill will describe ideas from her forthcoming books What Daedalus told Darwin (about Darwin's dilemma and designing intelligence) and If Microbes begat Mind (on origins of life and emergence of intelligence). With an M.Arch. from Harvard, her early experience as a researcher for Buckminster Fuller exposed her to Fuller's concepts for "World Game" to achieve environmental sustainability and "design science." Inspired by research into complex adaptive systems and multi-scale innovation networks, her entry to the international competition Kawasaki: Information City of the 21st Century, sponsored by the Japan Association for Planning Administration and Mainichi Newspapers, with cooperation of ten ministries and three agencies of the Japanese government, tied with Matsushita Corp. for first place and won the Award of the Mayor of Kawasaki. She proposed an Innovation Network comprised of sixteen initiatives for urban innovation as a complex adaptive system. More recently at NASA she developed program plans for an Institute for Advances Space Concepts (IASC), a think tank called Bio-Evolutionary Advanced Concepts (BEACON) and NASA University. She founded DESYN lab ( to explore "raising collaborative IQ" (

Google Tech Talks
November 20, 2008

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