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

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  1. Philip MC

    This song go's out to me. Lol. 🙂

    Have you heard about the lonesome loser
    Beaten by the queen of hearts every time
    Have you heard about the lonesome loser
    He's a loser, but he still keeps on tryin'

    Oohoohooh oooh

    Sit down, take a look at yourself
    Don't you want to be somebody
    Someday somebody's gonna see inside
    You have to face up, you can't run and hide

    Have you heard about the lonesome loser
    Beaten by the queen of hearts every time
    Have you heard about the lonesome loser
    He's a loser, but he still keeps on tryin'

    Unlucky in love, least that's what they say
    He lost his head and he gambled his heart away
    He still keeps searching though there's nothing left
    Staked his heart and lost, now he has to pay the cost

    January 5, 2015 at 8:37 pm |
    • Philip em cee


      January 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm |
  2. Philip MC

    Did you read where I won 10K on a scratch ticket last night? Lol. I already spent it. Isn't that just too cool.

    January 5, 2015 at 8:39 pm |
    • banasy©

      Nonsense. You didn't win $10K. Just another one of your many lies.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:07 pm |
  3. Philip MC

    This next song go's out to all you bored and lonely Chicago suburbanite housewives yet to experience what it's like to have a TV show about you. She devil. By Natalie Merchant.

    She Devil
    Natalie Merchant / Indian Love Bride ©1998

    Look out she's coming at ya
    big dark eyes like Cleopatra
    the eyes of a femme fatale
    bet you get the ominous feeling
    a cold blooded creature in the
    dark is stealing toward you
    you best beware, take care

    She's better than a work of fiction
    half ingénue, half a vixen
    your little paper doll
    but brother she's a wicked sister
    subtle and sly, watch it mister
    and take my advice, stay away
    or number your days

    Opiate clouds surround you
    an addiction to love has found you out
    half out of your mind
    fool, when I think about you
    I want to wrap my arms around you
    and tell you more than words can say

    She devil, she conquer
    she devil, you want her
    you're unaware tonight
    of the danger everywhere

    My poor little sleeping giant
    dreaming warm and silent
    where has your Delilah gone?
    why don't you wake and see through
    every way that she's deceived you
    how she moves within?

    See, everything the woman touches
    it withers and dies in her clutches
    why should your fate be
    any different from these?

    Oh, well I've heard about you
    every word that's said about you
    the man in the silvery web
    he fell for the sweet persuasion
    of a black widow spider
    now nothing can save him
    it's just a matter of time

    She devil, she conquer
    she devil, you want her
    you're unaware tonight
    of the danger everywhere

    She devil, she conquer
    she devil, you want her
    you're well aware tonight
    of the danger everywhere
    but you don't care

    January 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm |
    • banasy©

      You are good Philip. Good at posting boring trash. Get a life.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:12 pm |
      • Philip

        My life has been ten times more than yours has, Donna. I have travelled the world. You have travelled to the library.

        January 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm |
  4. Philip MC

    Phil'ys Coast to Coast. Lol. RIP Casey Kasum.

    January 5, 2015 at 8:45 pm |
  5. chri§§y

    And as i said last night....no sincerity! SSDD!

    January 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm |
    • Philip

      Was being sincere. Sheesh, chrissy.

      January 5, 2015 at 8:51 pm |
  6. Philip MC

    What say Soul Train, baby? he he Here we go. 🙂 Al the freaking Green, 🙂 La-la for you:

    You make
    Me feel
    So good, loving me
    And you turn around and
    Shamed my name

    All I can say is la-la-laaaa you, baby

    Good feeling(Listen yeah)

    It's for you sure that I'm a man
    Take the bread out of my hand
    Now you wanna know how strong I am
    All I can say
    La-laaa laaaa laaa you babe

    What's the use of giving out giving out giving in giving in let 'em sin
    Now you trying to be, you wanna be my friend


    I love you anyway no matter what my friends say
    Oo baby, come with me
    Oh yeah

    I lalalala laaaaaa you
    It's for sure that I'm a man, take the bread out of my hand
    Now you wanna know (wanna know) how strong I am

    I'm gonna keep on (keep on) loving you (loving you) no matter what my friends say and do
    Trying to sleep, trying my find my way through

    I get down on my knees
    I beg you baby baby
    Just lend a helping hand to me
    Lalalalalala you

    Oo baby

    January 5, 2015 at 8:48 pm |
  7. Philip MC

    La la la la la la la oh baby. Dunt dunt duhhhhh. What a classic!

    January 5, 2015 at 8:50 pm |
  8. Philip MC slash Blog Hog


    January 5, 2015 at 8:50 pm |
  9. Philip


    January 5, 2015 at 8:57 pm |
  10. Philip

    Sheesh! Witchy Woman lyrics by the Illuminati bribe taking "The Eagles" won't post! wt heck?

    January 5, 2015 at 8:58 pm |
  11. Philip em cee

    Am being trifled with. Bbl

    January 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm |
  12. chri§§y

    Lol smh! Good night.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:09 pm |
  13. Who is America in trouble with?

    Go ahead. Tell us who.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:10 pm |
    • Philip

      Is Israel mad at US for heavily arming Israel's god-sworn enemies? (for example)

      January 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm |
  14. banasy©

    America is in trouble with people like you. You are mental. Get help.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:17 pm |
    • Philip

      Besides that, you imbecile.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm |
      • Philip

        See? Bunutzi relates powerful nations like Israel with little old men like me! She would rather pounce on small men than large nations. She's totally gone kuntry.

        January 5, 2015 at 9:20 pm |
  15. Philip

    Natalie got yo numbah, banutzi.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:17 pm |
    • Philip

      Sorry. "Banasy". Am still working on that.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:23 pm |
  16. banasy©

    Do you ever wonder why people don't respond to you? It's because no one here cares for your rants, you ignorant AS.S.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:20 pm |
    • Philip

      Get a clue. 10's of thousands of people have responded to me over the years. Just because you weren't there to see it doesn't mean it didn't happen. Duh.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:24 pm |
      • Philip

        Besides your own. how many would stand-up and testify that you saved their lives, Donna. I have a list of 23 so far. The list of Jesus' was only about 200.

        January 5, 2015 at 9:25 pm |
  17. banasy©

    I am not an imbecile. You are. You mean ugly man.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:25 pm |
    • Philip

      You mean, ugly woman. lol See? No comma changes everything. lmao

      January 5, 2015 at 9:32 pm |
  18. chri§§y

    Ya mean shes a little bit country...youre a little bit rock and roll...lol. Smh=shake my head. Good night now.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:26 pm |
    • Philip

      Ok. I'll buy that. Lol

      January 5, 2015 at 9:31 pm |
    • Philip

      smh=shake my hand. Not head. Sheesh.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:33 pm |
  19. Philip

    My daughter is calling. So stfu.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:26 pm |
  20. chri§§y

    Ooook like i said SSDD!

    January 5, 2015 at 9:32 pm |
    • Philip

      SSDD? Super-Sonic Diaphram Destroyers?

      January 5, 2015 at 9:35 pm |
      • Philip

        Ain't got enough fingers and toes to count the IUD's I have destroyed from since my youth.

        January 5, 2015 at 9:36 pm |
  21. Dr. Dazzle

    Philip, you have a problem. Use that daughter of yours as an excuse to exist. Please consider not posting until you are mentally stable.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:32 pm |
    • Philip

      You do know that you are addressing over half of US. Right, @ Dizzle?

      January 5, 2015 at 9:34 pm |
  22. banasy©

    Stop reflecting . Dazzle was addressing you and you know it.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:37 pm |
  23. Philip

    Is me Philip and 3 old women. Ta ta for now, in other words. Zzzzzzz

    January 5, 2015 at 9:37 pm |
  24. Philip


    January 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm |
  25. Philip

    I'll be playing cards on Celeb Poker as "Tictac" or "Grampa Roper". Or at UFO chat rooms where people are. Ttyl, old folks.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:39 pm |
  26. Dr. Dazzle

    Good idea Philip. I plan to be here tomorrow evening again.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:40 pm |
    • Philip

      oh. *That's* a relief am sure.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:48 pm |
  27. chri§§y

    Sheesh NOTHING! Same sh!t different day! And yea im shaking my HEAD cuz yup as suspected...INSINCERE!!!!! GOOD NIGHT!

    January 5, 2015 at 9:40 pm |
    • Philip

      You misread/wanted my words to be bad. Hope the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits for it.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:47 pm |
  28. Blue Saffroń

    Geo Political Re Innovation is the need of the day: Not Technical ReEngineering. It is not about America anymore.

    I am not one to mince words. The common denominator to all the bad things happening in the region is INDIA! Yes, folks...INDIA ! Look at all the countries surrounding that are reeling in extremism and poverty and intolerance......Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and now Myanmar. The mother of all trouble makers ... yes folks, hold on to your chairs !!! is INDIA !!! IT IS NOT COINCIDENCE !! IT IS BY DESIGN !!! India cannot stop meddling in the affairs of these fledgling nations...financing terrorists...inciting communal violence, fanning religious intolerance. This must come to a stop immediately before this starts backfiring towards India itself. Turning it into an inferno that will be uncontrolilable. The conditions are ripe for this to happen as India is currently reeling in economic turmoil that is threatening its survival in its current geo-political form.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:42 pm |
    • Philip

      Stfu, @Blue Saffron. We are Americans. Not Indians, you buffoon.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:46 pm |
  29. banasy©

    India again. What an AS.S.-hol e.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:47 pm |
    • Philip

      INDIANS, rather. Get your sh/t straight.

      January 5, 2015 at 9:49 pm |
  30. Dr. Dazzle

    Philip and banasy. I know how easy it is to see Blue Saffron's remarks and find him sicking and perceive him as very obnoxious. You are right, but let's try and be patient. After all, he is mentally ill.

    January 5, 2015 at 9:52 pm |
    • Philip

      We are all mentally ill, shadizzle. We only use about 1/10th of our brain's capacity during our lifespans as every other animal gets to use 100% of theirs. Is why men are called "the lice" that infests planet earth. Insects and birds and crawling creatures get to use 100% of their brain. Einstein said we only get to use a very small % of ours.

      January 5, 2015 at 10:12 pm |
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