I am reading Timothy Wu’s [The Master Switch](http://amzn.to/lenV5X) and he has a great quote from [Joseph Schumpeter](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Schumpeter) that I think can be understood as a minimum
in an energy function.Timothy Wu is quoting Schumpeter (Theory of Economic Development: An inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1983), 84, 86):
>All knowledge and habit once acquired, becomes as firmly rooted in ourselves as a railway embankment in the earth. … The very nature of fixed habits of thinking, their energy-saving function, is founded upon the fact that they have become subconscious, that they yield their results automatically are are proof against criticism and even against contradiction by individual facts.
If you think about the line of accepted reasoning in an industry or discipline, or even a technology, as a curve, then one can make it function measuring effort to get an idea accepted by the mainstream, then there will be at least one minimum, possibly, several local minima, assuming that the curve has some smooth characteristics. If that is the case, then there is a danger of our thoughts being trapped in these local wells with it requiring too much energy to escape them, perhaps too much in the majority of cases available to lone or small groups of people. And yet, those groups with more energy to input, will, by that very nature of being in a larger collection, seek, naturally, as Schumpeter puts it, lowest energy areas.
Neat idea, but I am not certain what the coordinate axis represents in this *V(x)*. But the point is clear, there is a real tension in any knowledge environment to understand when to seek the lowest energy area, to provide sustaining innovation, and when to put in extra energy to escape a well, to provide a disruptive input. Since it will be impossible to know the curve before hand, I guess that this means that this is a measurement of risk capital from a business and that they should occasionally be in a position to invest it as just such. Since one doesn’t know the energy curve completely, one can’t even, intuitively, use measures like slope out of the (local) minimum to determine suitability.