How would a planned economy deal with this problem?

Matt Ridley leads us to an interesting question about how a command or planned economy works- or does not work of course.

Forecasting technological change is almost impossibly hard and nobody — yes, nobody — is an expert at it. The only sensible course is to be wary of the initial hype but wary too of the later scepticism.

One of the sillier critiques of free market economies is to look at the conditions for perfect competition, note that perfect information is assumed and thus declare that of course a planned economy is better as we cannot meet the necessary conditions for a market one.   

But, of course, if we don't know then how can we plan? 

Further, as Ridley points out, if we don't know what the new technologies will or can do then how can we plan what to do with them? This accords well with William Baumol's more formal investigations of invention and innovation. The state, planning, can indeed invent as can markets. But innovations are something the planned economy simply cannot handle while they seem to be the very essence of market systems. That is, innovation appears to be an emergent phenomenon from people playing around, as they wish, with those inventions. That playing around being something which a planned system cannot, by definition, do.

It might even be true that the State invented the underlying technologies of the iPhone, as Mazzucato has been saying, but it's still true that no state did nor has built a smartphone.