Contrary to claims that are really common in the mainstream, the presence or absence of markets has basically nothing to do with whether meaningful and important technological research is done. Technological advance happens when curious and thoughtful people are given resources to do research–that can happen regardless of the type of economic system is in place. It happened in pre-capitalist economic systems (such as feudalism), as well, albeit at a slower pace than in capitalism.
For instance, one fact that flies in the face of the claim that capitalism is the best system for technological advance is that the Soviet Union beat the united states to every space race milestone except landing on the moon.
That fact is even more telling when one bears in mind the very different situations both countries were operating in at the time:
On the one hand, the fact that the united states was and is an empire means it had more wealth, more populations to draw scientists in from, and more resources to give those scientists. It had also industrialized about 90 years prior to the space race.
On the other hand, the Soviet Union wasn’t stealing resources from anyone, had a much smaller population to draw scientists from, and had industrialized only a couple of decades prior.
And *still* the USSR outran the united states in the space race for the majority of it.
That is a testament to the fact that with a planned economy, scientific research is directed toward exactly wherever it would be most helpful–for instance, things like cancer research (what does it say that tiny, poor Cuba’s planned economy can make medical science discoveries that the united states hasn’t? [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/14/cuba-lung-cancer-vaccine_n_7267518.html]).
Capitalism can’t help itself: It has to waste a certain amount of resources coming up with such sad inventions as Farmville, because under capitalism research can’t be fully directed where it would be most helpful–it has to follow profit. It can make a bigger profit by selling distractions and treating symptoms rather than by inventing cures and giving them out for free.
Meanwhile, socialism sees the real wealth of its society in making sure citizens flourish, which makes them creative, productive, and hard-working. So, in fact, socialist countries have every incentive to create cures and vaccines and give them to every citizen for free, rather than letting diseases spread while they try to profit off of treat-the-symptom medications.
If you examine the way science was done in the Soviet Union, it really wasn’t done in a dramatically different way from how most important research is done in capitalist countries; in every capitalist country on earth, pioneering research in all important technologies is always directed by the government and done mostly with government money.
The most telling fact about all of this is that, when it comes to scientific research in areas where the u.s. ruling class considers it absolutely important to be on cutting edge–for example, in military technology–the research is not trusted to the market but is instead researched through heavily funded government agencies like DARPA.
Here’s an article that goes into greater depth on all of this: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/03/socialism-innovation-capitalism-smith/