Thomas Roach
In his 2018 TEDxBryantU talk, “Low Maintenance: Why Our Obsession with Innovation is a Problem," Professor Thomas Roach explored the “hidden costs” of innovation.
All innovation, all the time? Not so fast, argues Philosophy Professor Thomas Roach
Nov 05, 2019

Thomas Roach, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and inaugural TEDxBryantU presenter, recently delivered a keynote address for Actemium, a global business network dedicated to industrial process. The annual conference, “Maintenance Day,” was held in Madrid, Spain, and brought together more than 200 attendees from 25 countries to discuss the important role that maintenance plays in our lives.

"The new, the now, and the wow seduce us, and at the same time they distract us from maintaining the infrastructures that support and facilitate our lives."

Roach’s keynote presentation was based on his 2018 TEDxBryantU talk, “Low Maintenance: Why Our Obsession with Innovation is a Problem,” where he explored the “hidden costs” of innovation. Roach argues that "The new, the now, and the wow seduce us, and at the same time they distract us from maintaining the infrastructures that support and facilitate our lives.”

Roach’s presentation also examined the toll innovation has on society. "In an age when we celebrate innovation, we tend to devalue maintenance,” he said, citing specific examples such a bridge collapse in Minneapolis, MN, killing 13 people after having been deemed “structurally deficient” for years; and the public transportation crises facing Boston, and other major cities.

"It’s not every day that a philosophy professor is asked to speak at the annual conference of a massive energy company. I think it says a lot about the versatility and interdisciplinarity of Bryant faculty."

“It’s not every day that a philosophy professor is asked to speak at the annual conference of a massive energy company,” says Roach. “I think it says a lot about the versatility and interdisciplinarity of Bryant faculty.”

Event organizers from Actemium – a branch of one of Europe’s largest energy companies, Vinci Energies – saw Roach’s TEDxBryantU talk online and were impressed with his perspective on innovation and maintenance. After three Skype interviews, and meeting conference organizers and corporate executives in Paris, Roach gave the keynote address on June 25.

The presentation for Actemium was so well received, the company asked him to provide expertise for their publication, The Agility Effect, which features sustainability and maintenance thought leaders.

View Roach’s full TEDxBryantU talk here: https://youtu.be/LBMOaj7WBpA.

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