Thursday, November 24, 2005

CYA and barriers to innovation

My google alert on Advanced Transport Systems Ltd threw up this submission by them to a UK parliamentary committee.

I was struck by a couple of counter-intuitive points
if passenger km delivered by light rail are divided by primary energy used, then light rail is actually less energy efficient that the average car.
It is routine for transport schemes to be returned many times for additional consultancy studies. The cost of preparing major bids taking full account of regulatory and legal issues has also become a major barrier. These costs fund consultants, lawyers, etc at high fee rates and only contribute in the most marginal way to improved transport. It has been speculated, Jakes (2003), that in the area of transport "there are probably a few hundred consultants for every designer"". This balance is more likely to impede progress than to advance it. The principal barriers to the efficient delivery and construction of new transport systems have been erected by over diligent legislation.
In humans, there is a shortening over time of telomeres on the end of replicated DNA. We don't know exactly what part this plays in ageing, but there is a strong association. I wonder if the spread of CYA legislation and regulation plays a similar role in the senescence of societies.


Axos said...

Does the baby have a similar effect?

Francis said...

So far little Johnny has the effect of making me feel like the archetypal doting dad. His sleep patterns are improving and he's started smiling back at us (he definitely got out of the right side of his cot this morning, despite coming out for dinner last night).

You might put sleep-deprivation and a radically altered lifestyle down as negatives but, for me, the feelings of new meaning and competence are incomparable.

So far I'd say this is one of those cases where the semantic difference between growth and ageing defintely outweighs the logical equivalence.