January 1st, 2015
08:43 PM ET

American innovation is in trouble

By Fareed Zakaria

If you ask people in Silicon Valley what makes it work, they will talk about many things — the ability to fail, the lack of hierarchy, the culture of competition. One thing almost no one mentions is the government. And yet, the Valley’s origins are deeply tied to government support. The reason there were so many engineers in California in the 1950s and 1960s was because large defense companies had attracted them there. Most of the legendary start-ups that fueled the computer revolution — Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel — got off the ground largely because the military, and later NASA, would buy their products until they became cheap and accessible enough for the broader commercial market. GPS, the technology that now powers the information revolution, was developed for the military.

And then there was government funding for research, which is sometimes thought of simply as large grants to universities for basic science but often was far more ingenious. My favorite example comes from Walter Isaacson’s fascinating new book, “The Innovators.” In the 1950s, the U.S. government funded a massive project at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, employing equal numbers of psychologists and engineers who worked together to find ways “that humans could interact more intuitively with computers and information could be presented with a friendlier interface.” Isaacson traces how this project led directly to the user-friendly computer screens of today as well as ARPANET, the precursor of the Internet.

Federal funding for basic research and technology should be utterly uncontroversial. It has been one of the greatest investments in human history. And yet it has fallen to its lowest level as a percentage of GDP in four decades.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (1,621 Responses)
  1. ℜazzmatazz

    Bunch of p ussies. Ya know when you come on these forums the gloves are off. If you can't stand the heat .... Stay out of the oven. And every country is fairplay.

    January 5, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  2. Blue Saffroń

    I didn't mean you Razzmatazz!

    Guys stay out of my spread. As I do from yours. I don't bother you.

    Also, whether I am blue or black (Lol) is my prerogative. Same with any country. Don't over analyze me. I am a simpleton.

    January 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  3. rupert

    U mean " stay out of the kitchen" not "out of the oven. "
    Foreigner!

    January 5, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Reply
  4. Dr. Dazzle

    Blue Saffron is under the impression that this is his "spread" . As with many with mental illness, he lives in a fantasy that these blogs are his home.

    January 5, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  5. Blue Saffroń

    Ahhhh these Indians and their vernacular.
    My bad.

    I will continue to post my comments and debate issues in a meaningful and enlightening way.

    This land is my land.
    From Kashmir to Kerala and onto Karachi.
    And no I am not from Belgium.

    January 5, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  6. chri§§y

    And WHAT does India have to do with innovation issues in America? Or any of the other threads on this blog? Not a damn thing thats what! But that seems to be the only thing on ONE person (with a thousand names) mind!

    January 5, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Reply
    • rupert

      Hiiii cutie patootie. U tell um. U go girl!

      January 5, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  7. rupert

    Hiiiii dazzle. Long time no see. Blue Saffron is a sicko. Lol.
    How is tori???

    January 5, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Reply
    • Dr. Dazzle

      Good evening all. My little angel went back to school. She left Sunday.
      Nice to see you rupert and chrissy of course.

      January 5, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        Not dazzle.

        Stop it. You look ignorant.

        January 5, 2015 at 6:39 pm |
      • Dr. Dazzle

        @banasy. Hi dear. Thank you for the Christmas card. So sweet. Tori says hello.

        January 5, 2015 at 7:32 pm |
      • banasy©

        Stop trying to impersonate a person who is clearly superior to you.

        It will not work, and you appear foolish.

        January 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm |
      • Barndaisy@

        That's MOTHER superior, to you. Not to mention prominent Jews.

        January 5, 2015 at 7:58 pm |
      • banasy©

        Um, Philip? Shut up.

        Peddle your bullshit elsewhere, mmmmmkaythxbai.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm |
      • Dr. Dazzle

        My goodness. That's not banasy. That is a troll. Banasy, my friend is not so hostile. Must be Blue Saffron.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:12 pm |
      • banasy©

        You will never be able to impersonate dazzle. Why you even try is unfathomable; you fail miserably.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:14 pm |
      • Dr. Dazzle

        Oh banasy. You are so silly tonight. Please enjoy a little egg nog and enjoy your night. Ok sweetie?

        January 5, 2015 at 8:19 pm |
      • banasy©

        Egg nog sucks, and so does your imitation.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm |
  8. rupert

    Please ignore Rupert. He is a jerk. I can use any name I want.

    January 5, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  9. Blue Saffroń

    That is for you to figure out. This ain't no elementary school child. Thousand Leagues over the Land. LMFAO. What a cartoon. Hilariously pathetic!

    January 5, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Reply
    • Hannah

      Isn't IT a riot ?! Thinks we fell off the cannoli truck yesterday. Watch the other IT give us a lecture about potato potatoe. Lol

      January 5, 2015 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  10. Blue Saffroń

    The Aghori Factor.
    Captain Cook and his Forays.

    The Aghoris are members of a Hindu sect who worship Shiva, whom they see as the supreme god. Because they believe that Shiva created everything – they consider nothing to be bad. For this reason they engage in a variety of seyxual practices, they drink alcohol, take drugs, and eat meat. Nothing is considered taboo. But the thing that makes their ancient traditions bizarre is that they are also practicing cannibals and their temples are cremation grounds.

    An aghori lives in the cremation ground and is able to support himself there – his clothing comes from the dead, his firewood comes from the funeral pyres, and food from the river. When a person is cremated, an aghori will coat himself in the ashes of the body and meditate on the dead.

    The most shocking aspect of the Aghori life is their cannibalism. Dead bodies that are found floating in the river are gathered up and meditated on. The limbs are then removed by the Aghori and eaten .

    The problem is as Aghoris get older their decaying teeth can't chew dead human meat. So the Indian Cannibal Association invented a deep fryer. It cooks faster to get from point A to point B all while making it tastier.
    Fareed, this is what we call hindoo ingenuity.

    January 5, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  11. Hannah

    LOL The Aghoris need a dentist. But they use cobblers for that in India. Don't they have toothbrushes?

    January 5, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  12. chri§§y

    Before it was India, hindoos and raype it was pepperoni pizza! Everyone who has posted here regularly knows you well. Your mood of the moment may have changed but your method has not! And under it all has been your obsession to get the site clossed down! You are definitely STRANGE BREW!

    January 5, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Dr. No

      Ok, Miss Moneypenny.

      January 5, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  13. Blue Philip

    Let me guess. You are all typical Americans.

    January 5, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  14. Hannah

    Frowny faces are generally associated with neuroticism. Beer or Coffee?

    January 5, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Reply
  15. Dr. Dazzle

    As predicted, Blue Saffron brought in his make believe characters in blue. This is how he lives his fantasies about India.

    January 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Reply
    • Dr. No

      Are you Bond, James Bond?

      January 5, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Reply
      • Dr. Dazzle

        Hello Dr. No. No I am not James Bond. Having trouble holding on to one name? I will help you. Let's just take it slow.

        January 5, 2015 at 7:37 pm |
  16. Blue Saffroń

    Substance abuse and mental health are two peas of the same pod. We must tackle both with new vigor. That is where we could use innovations.

    January 5, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Reply
    • Dr. No

      Agreed Sir.

      January 5, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Reply
    • Dr. Phil

      The next generation of prescription drugs will be made from stem cells of aborted fetus IS this "innovation" you are ignorant of. Currently, more crude oil is used to make pharmacy products than is used to make gasoline and diesel fuels for our cars and trucks. Once mind altering prtescription drugs are made from stem cells rather than crude oil, the price of gasoline will drop to abot 28 cents per gallon. (it's current fair market value, less excess profits and extra government taxes)

      January 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        No.

        Stem cells must be alive to be of use.

        This is a patently false statement.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:08 pm |
  17. Blue Saffroń

    Yes, speed is of the utmost importance when it helps humanity achieve its goals. The implications of techological advancements is critical as regards its application to advance democratic principles.

    Just like US is letting the Puerto Ricans decide their fate, a plebiscite needs to be held in Kashmir under UN supervision to allow these people to decide their future. That is what democracy is all about.

    January 5, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Reply
    • Dr. No

      I assume you mean Indian Occupied Kashmir in India.

      January 5, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  18. Blue Saffroń

    I am not a messiah but this I will say. The world will never see peace again till the Palestinian and Indian Occupied Kashmir issues are resolved. So let us innovate a solution. It has been 70 years!

    January 5, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Reply
    • Black Saffron

      What about war mongering Israel and the 30,000+ armed and organized hordes of Americans in street and outlaw biker gangs? World peace, you say? Until crooked Americans are dealt with, there can't even be peace in the USA let alone the world.

      January 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  19. Dr. Dazzle

    Kashmir has no issues. Both Pakistan and India are in peace. Blue Saffron has paranoia and needs help.
    Poor soul.

    January 5, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  20. The Lion of Kashmir

    GENOCIDES IN INDIA:::

    "Amnesty International is calling for an impartial investigation into mass graves found in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. Sunday, India's Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission released a report saying a three-year investigation had uncovered 2,156 unidentified bodies in 38 sites in the region.

    In a statement released Monday, Amnesty International asked Indian officials to allow impartial forensic experts to carry out a thorough investigation of the skeletal remains. The rights group also urged Indian authorities to ensure the safety of the witnesses who gave statements to police during the investigation. Indian authorities conducted the inquiry in response to allegations that Indian security forces have committed rights abuses in fighting a more than two-decade-long Muslim separatist insurgency.

    Rights activists say at least 28,000 people have gone missing in Indian Occupied Kashmir since the freedom fighters began fighting in 1989 for independence from Hindu-majority India or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan. Indian government crackdowns have killed at least 150,000 people."

    January 5, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Reply
    • Lion of South-Central LA

      Get it?

      January 5, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Reply
      • FBI crime lab

        Over 500 American children go missing each day never to be seen or heard from again. For many years. That's over 180,000 missing children per year, that will never be seen or heard from EVER again.
        28K in India is NOTHING.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:01 pm |
      • Department of Justice stats

        Americans raype over 246,000 men, womne, boys and girls each year. Dwarfing India's raype stats.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:02 pm |
  21. Dr. Dazzle

    There goes Blue Saffron. Now he calls himself "The Lion of Kashmir." He is looking to a lion to give him the impression of a grand character.

    January 5, 2015 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  22. Dr. Dazzle

    He has a very good imagine. There never were 28,000 people missing nor 150,000 people killed. These are not lies. They are illusions from a mentally sick man.

    January 5, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Reply
    • dazzle

      Troll of mine, if you are going to impersonate me please learn to spell.

      January 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        I have noticed that this troll has the most atrocious spelling habits; for him, this is a tell.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:07 pm |
  23. Missing people

    Right now. Beneath Bayer Pharmaceuticals World HQ, is a mass grave of Jewish women and children. Bayer built their office towers right on top of an old WWII Nazi Bayer AG/IG Farben corporate concentration camp that specialized in trying to make small Jews look like artists conceptions of what an alien might look like if aliens really existed. The German government refuses to force Bayer to allow this last mass grave to be exhumed with proper burials given. Oskar Schindler's family has been begging the German government for many years to allow those bodies to be exhumed. (Schindler of Schindlers list fame) So don't you dare say I'm making this up, you idiot.

    January 5, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  24. Barndaisy@

    I have noticed everything but the news.

    January 5, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      You remain a coward.

      Your "news" isn't anything but the paranoic ramblings of an untreated schizophrenic.

      Get some help.

      January 5, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Reply
      • Black Philip

        I would faint if @banasy ever stopped gossiping and actually discussed the news.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:31 pm |
      • banasy©

        Discussion with you is a futile endeavor.

        Your favorite topic is gossip; that of the fictional nature.

        Your "news" isn't news at all. Nonsensical ramblings are nothing newsworthy, unless it is your intention to amuse.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:48 pm |
    • Black Philip

      Coward? Prude.

      January 5, 2015 at 8:32 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        I am no prude; I highly doubt you know the meaning of the word.

        This is okay.

        You are frequently wrong about many things; it's rather your trademark.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:44 pm |
  25. Barndaisy@

    toodles

    January 5, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  26. The Lion of Kashmir

    According to a complaint lodged by the inhabitants of Kunan Poshpora village in Indian Occupied Kashmir, stating that “during the intervening night of 23-24 February, 1991 the Indian army (Battalion of 4th Rajputana Rifle 63 Brigade) cordoned the village at 2300 Hours IST and intruded forcibly into the residential houses, took men into their custody, locked them inside two houses, continued interrogation and a few army male members made a forcible entry into the houses and on gun point committed gang raipe upon 140 women indiscriminately, whether old, married, virgin or pregnant.” This horrible crime continued allegedly until the morning of 24 February.

    January 5, 2015 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  27. Dr. Dazzle

    I see I am needed here. Seems that Blue Saffron is delusional, banasy is out of control. And "dazzle" is pretending to be me. There are many people with issues here. I will help them when time permits.

    January 5, 2015 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  28. Dr. Dazzle

    In other words, lots of scr ewed up people here.

    January 5, 2015 at 8:25 pm | Reply
    • Black Philip

      Lot's of screwed-up people in line at Wal-Mart and working behind the cash registers. (cite http://www.peopleofwalmart.com) And lot's of screwed up people playing slot machines at pharmacy stores waiting for their prescriptions to be filled.

      January 5, 2015 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  29. Black Philip

    American innovation is in trouble. Let's see if we can shorten than sentence. America is in trouble. Who with, is the question.

    January 5, 2015 at 8:28 pm | Reply
    • Black Philip

      ho is America in trouble with, in order of importance. Who wants to have a go at this one? Banasy?

      January 5, 2015 at 8:33 pm | Reply
      • Black Philip

        *Who, rather. We know of America's ho troubles.

        January 5, 2015 at 8:34 pm |
  30. Black Philip

    America could be in trouble with Israel for arming Israel's sworn enemies to the teeth for these past few years. But is that who America is really in trouble with? You "Christians" like president Obama and most of Congress, who do you say America is in trouble with. And for what?

    January 5, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Reply
    • Philip

      Nunnaya's want to touch this one with a ten foot pole. For it is a mirror.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Reply
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