How My Grandfather’s Watch Gave Me the Life I Always Wanted

While I was researching articles, I came across this quick read. It only takes a few minutes to get through it, but I believe the article serves as a valuable reminder that inspiration can come from anything. It also highlights that following through on something we are passionate about can be highly rewarding (even if we do not expect it to be), and how sometimes we have to trust and go along with our ideas in order to be successful, even if we run the risk of falling short (a sort of leap of faith notion). I particularly appreciated how Ben Clymer, the author and entrepreneur in this article, applied to Columbia School of Journalism in order to fully invest in his idea/passion. I thought it was refreshing to read about a successful entrepreneur who signed up for school after he had an idea, instead of dropping out of school.

As aforementioned, it is truly a quick read. However, I think it could serve as a small source of motivation for potential entrepreneurs.

Role of Intellectual Property in Innovation and New Product Development

This article gives a nice introduction into intellectual property law–the most obvious response to a question like “what is the law’s role in promoting innovation”.

The article is useful in that it defines innovation from the legal perspective, where it used more as a verb rather than a noun: “The term ‘innovation’ is used here to refer to the process of bringing valuable new products (goods and services) to market i.e., from the idea/concept formulation stage to the successful launching of a new or improved product in the marketplace2, or the result of that process, so as to meet the explicit or implied needs of current or potential customers. In other words, through innovation an enterprise seeks to deliver unique new value to its customers.”

This differs from what many of us would define as innovation from a noun -sense: a product or result of a unique way of thinking that motivates certain actions to create that new product.


I think this is interesting as it inherently shows the position of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The law’s role in innovation is to help new products come to market–not in helping with the actual initial design of the product. Of course, this makes sense historically. Law has been used to patent new inventions that in turn help the product come to market by also keeping copy-cat versions from competing. However, I wonder if that conception will change in the future. With the rise of open source code (which I admit to knowing very little about aside from what I write in this sentence), developers can access what are effectively code templates to build new code with. I wonder if in the future there will be laws regulating those codes (or maybe there are already now…would be interested in reading if someone responds to this blog) aside from the traditional licensing type laws we see with digital software now.

Why is Law Firm Innovation Failing?

I wanted to find articles on either side of this position–whether law promotes or stifles innovation.

This author of this article feels that law firm structure stifles a culture of internal innovation, which in turn prevents law firms from making small changes that they could really benefit with. The author makes an interesting point that innovation is so often associated with major, drastic changes–citing AI robot lawyers– that it overlooks the smaller changes that can be made for much less and with less risk. The result is that small innovations in how the firm is operated do not get implemented. She attributes this even more to the risk averse nature of law firms, stating that desire to adhere to the “gold standard” prevents law firms from encouraging innovation for the fear of failure.

How to Regulate Innovation?


This article draws a broad picture of regulation of innovation. it describes “Law and Economics” and “Law and Technology” as two major approaches to determine the law’s importance for innovation.

Law and Economics often perceives innovation as an inherent aspect or result of functioning markets and, more importantly, as increasing social welfare. Therefore, this way of legal thinking identifies market failures (most of all market power that leads, for example, to monopolies and information asymmetry) as threats for innovation and, hence, as the main rational for regulation.

In contrast, law and technology sees the main rationales for regulation as ensuring compliance of innovation with fundamental rights, maximize its positive effects, and minimize negative effects.

The article also points out several difficulties when regulating innovation, such as the pacing problem, i.e. the problem that technology often develops faster than the corresponding regulation.

The Great Innovative Disruption to Lawyering

This article describes how lawyers themselves might become the “victims” of innovation and, hence, draws a rather gloomy picture of the future of lawyering. It argues that technologiical innovation in machine intelligence will disrupt the legal profession and lead to competition among lawyers liker never seen before.

But the article also lists a number of reasons why the law itself, by establishing legal barriers in the form of regulations, may not be able to prevent this innovative disruption to the legal profession:

  1. “the ethics rules do not prohibit lawyers from employing machine intelligence to perform work previously or potentially done by lawyers [and may even require it].”
  2. “The unauthorized practice laws have not been applied successfully to police machine intelligence products [so that they become more and more de facto deregulated which again] provide[s] a greater incentive to developing more sophisticated and profitable machine intelligence services”



Tech Industry Aims to Reassure Congress on AI

In thinking about how the law can “stifle” innovation, the obvious example is the ongoing feud between rideshare services like Uber and local municipalities that want to protect entrenched livery services. This topic has been covered ad nauseam, so I thought it would be interesting to look further into the future.

One topic that is gaining increasing recognition as a place where the tech community and regulators may depart is artificial intelligence (AI). This article addresses recent efforts by the tech community to assuage Congress of the benefits of AI. There is concern from the public of a dystopian Terminator-like future, and since Congress is largely reactive, it is no wonder politicians are already gearing up to regulate technology that scientists say is decades away. This topic is likely even more polarizing when one considers that the tech community itself is largely divided on AI. Prominent tech and scientific figures like Elon Musk and Steven Hawking have banded together to warn about the perils of AI. It will be interesting to see how Congress reacts as this technology grows and it’s place in our society becomes more ubiquotous.

Personally I’m a skeptic and I often think of the famous Jurassic Park quote when discussing AI, “the scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they couldthey didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Legal Barriers to Innovation

I found this to be an interesting article/ perspective on the issue of legal barriers to innovation. I had not thought about the idea that the legal profession’s self regulation could be an attributing factor.

New Electronic Scooter Sharing Service

Hi all.  Last week we discussed how sometimes the goals of start ups aren’t achieved and that they have to go back to the drawing board.  Well a former executive for Uber and Lyft realized that their start ups aren’t helping alleviate the problem of traffic congestion and pollution so they decided to start a scooter sharing service.  The company, Bird, launched in September 2017 has recorded more than 50K riders. It works kind of like those Limebikes that we see around campus.

Robots, Cockroaches, and Kelley Article

One of the products that I found most profound in Tom Kelley’s “The Art of Innovation” piece was the water bottle that IDEO created for Specialized Bike Components. IDEO first watched bike racers and serious bikers using water bottles to look for new ideas. IDEO discovered two issues: First, bikers struggled to get their water bottles back on their bikes after drinking, and second, actually drinking from the water bottle nozzle was difficult while riding a bike. The first problem was solved rather easily by changing the bottom of the bottle and creating a ring on the bottle to make for an easier grip. To solve the second problem, “the solution, as is so often the case, came from looking at products used for entirely different purposes.” By studying the tricuspid heart valve, IDEO team members were able to mimic this example from nature to create a self-sealing water bottle nozzle.

This example made me think of biomimicry, a concept that, according to this article, is “based on the principle that nature has already perfected an array of elegant mechanical systems.” Innovators, rather than “reinvent the wheel,” have instead “learned to look for the nearest wheel corollary in nature.” The article went on to describe how roboticists at Harvard have created a robot based on the cockroach. Like a cockroach, the robot can “turn sharply and run at high speeds, climb, carry payloads, and survive long drops unharmed.” While perhaps not the most glamorous example, these engineers are focusing on observing what already works in nature and applying it to make new innovations even more successful. This seems to mimic the process outlined in Kelley’s book.

Lessons from Olympic Entrepreneurs

I love the Olympics. But I never viewed the athletes from an entrepreneurial angle. This article, entitled 5 Steps to Becoming an Olympic Entrepreneur,  immediately drew my attention. Some of the points hit me as a bit obvious and generally applicable, but I enjoyed thinking about the athlete’s preparation like an entrepreneur taking a passion from startup to fully operational company. One of the steps outlined in the article is to “bounce back from inevitable setbacks.” This brought to mind Sara Sarasvathy’s article on Effectual Reasoning, where she addresses the “lemonade principal.” She states, “The realization that not all surprises are bad and that surprises, whether good or bad, can be used as inputs into the new-venture creation process differentiates effective reasoning from causal reasoning, which tends to focus on the avoidance of surprises…” Kate Ziegler, the athlete profiled in the article, had a major surprise during her training and found a way to work through it, adjust the focus of her training, and not give herself an excuse to just drop everything while she dealt with the surprise. I think the life lessons she has learned as an Olympian will translate well into her future entrepreneurial endeavors.