>> I question whether an open and free market would have any
influence on the rate of development of any of these things (all of which involve large amounts of innovation). We are getting innovation in these areas because people want to solve a problem are are able to swing the application of the resources required to develop the solutions (i.e. to do the innovation).<<
I think the last sentence here makes a very important point. Some people wanted to see it happen, and were able to bring the resources to bear to get it done. This can be done by market forces or military necessity. I think the trick is to allow the people actually doing the work on the project ot have enough leeway to be creative.
>>It seems to be the case that now (in contrast to a 100 years ago) that the resources required to do world class innovation are much greater than they used to be (with the possible exception of the software industry). I think this is because we have moved out of the realm where most innovation is done on human scales (i.e. designing a chair) and into the realms where innovation requires a fair amount of relatively expensive infrastructure (university labs, X-ray & e-beam lithography machines, DNA sequencers, mass spectrometers, etc.) and most people simply do not have access to such resources.<<
In some ways this is true. But then again, the amount of resources at the command of private individuals is now greater than ever before. This having been said, quite a few of the projects near and dear to my heart will require massive resources far greater than almost any individual possesses. It is for this reason that I believe larger organizations are of use.