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 (1,704 Responses)
  1. Cristobal

    I pity your disposition that is a reflection of your uncouth upbringing. You are nothing but a jealous petty thing hiding behind scripted postings.

    January 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm |
    • trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby


      January 7, 2015 at 2:43 pm |
  2. Cristobal

    I pose this question to you. For 70 Years.... Yes 70 Years.... UN has passed resolutions directing India to hold plebiscite in Indian held Kashmir!!! We are still waiting!!!! And you want everyone to consider innovations? How about a plebiscite machine eh Fareed? Lol

    January 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm |
    • trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby


      January 7, 2015 at 3:08 pm |
  3. chri§§y

    Lol thats just precious comming from the biggest troll here! Knock yourself out!

    January 7, 2015 at 2:55 pm |
  4. Blue Saffroń

    We want to hear some intelligent comments not posts that belong in the county dump. Show us some semblance of sanity.

    If you can't be a leader then follow one.

    January 7, 2015 at 3:13 pm |
  5. palintwit

    Isn't it amazing how Sarah Palin always has a new "book" to peddle just in time for the Xmas shopping season? Isn't it amazing how teabaggies have no problem plunking down $12 or $15 or $20 or more for this trash? Isn't it amazing how Sarah Palin makes fools out of these low I.Q. trailer park losers while dancing her way to the bank? Isn't it amazing that she doesn't even write that garbage herself but implies that she does?

    January 7, 2015 at 3:31 pm |
  6. Gustav

    Guys please stick to issues. Leave the pettycoat talk aside. Lol. Don't care what it is.
    India? Bring it on. They make the best caricatures. Why not? Chrissy does it bring back bad memories? I know you are a blue eyed royal blood (laughter).

    January 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm |
  7. Hannah

    Hiya boys! Same old. 2015 @canary talk: poot, comming, thats, troll....

    Great conference on CPM. Enterprise programs galore. Good stuff. Wish CNN could use some here. Dashboard.

    Give it to IT @Cristobal!

    January 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm |
  8. Nobserver

    This trolling has got to stop. Too many snags and hung-up lures. Little boats running out of gas. No big fish caught. Maybe go somewhere where you pay to fish and guaranteed to at least catch something.

    January 7, 2015 at 4:26 pm |
  9. Observer

    So? Its pick on Chrissy day is it? Blue Saffron i don't think you would know "sanity" if it were to jump up and slap you in the face! Do you think because you've this made up fan club that you are the "leader"? That's just to funny for words.

    January 7, 2015 at 4:28 pm |
  10. Observer

    I am in total agreement with that Nobserver! And Chrissy was correct about one thing, if you want to hindoo hate, start your own website! You can do it free and the rest of us don't need to get so annoyed with you. Its very tedious reading that all the time.

    January 7, 2015 at 4:37 pm |
  11. chri§§y

    Thank you @ Observer....but i look at it this way. If theyre picking on me then theyre "HE" leaving everyone else alone. Small sacrifice!

    January 7, 2015 at 4:44 pm |
  12. Blue Saffroń

    Who are you? Nobodies? One person club. Your comments are juvenile bordering on insane illiteracy. You are A lingual terrorist.

    You will read what I give you. You will listen to what I say. When I say jump you will ask how high. That is your calibre.

    I am your leader and these forums are my narratives. So listen good and read well.

    January 7, 2015 at 4:48 pm |
  13. Aiden Buford

    Indeed @Blue Saffron. That is exactly why I follow your posts. I learn a lot. I am a plain speaking southerner.

    January 7, 2015 at 4:51 pm |
  14. Hannah

    Am I you Blue? No! Am I you Aiden? Of course not!

    You come on these boards under multiple names @chrissy You come across as a hindu aoologist and disown your India origin. You spew nonsense against people who are nowhere to be seen. Your infatuation with Blue Safron now amounts to stalking which is a criminal offense. Nothing of substance is ever posted by you.

    Why don't you seek counselling for your inherent psychiatric issues. Just trying to help you not incite you.

    January 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm |
  15. El Conquistador

    I am me. Understood?
    Hey Blue Saffron when are the ruffians holding plebiscite in Indian Occupied Kashmir?

    January 7, 2015 at 5:59 pm |
  16. banasy@

    Be quiet Hannah. You are useless.

    January 7, 2015 at 6:01 pm |
    • banasy©

      Oh, I'm sure that's untrue, faux banasy. I'm sure she was useful at making/serving the coffee and sandwiches at the "conference."

      January 7, 2015 at 7:07 pm |
  17. Rupert

    CNN, these boards are out of control. It is no wonder there hasn't been an update. With my troll as well as the countless others, it is time to close this one like TJI. Let these misfits go elsewhere. Thank you for the opportunity to express our opinions, but these disruptive individuals have ruined this site.

    January 7, 2015 at 6:04 pm |
  18. El Conquistador

    These frikkin indians are waiting for updates.LMFAO. They should be writing their obituary!

    January 7, 2015 at 6:09 pm |
    • banasy©

      You do realize there is not one Indian/Hindu on these boards, right?

      Probably not.

      January 7, 2015 at 6:17 pm |
      • Hombrè

        Ok chico

        January 7, 2015 at 9:08 pm |
  19. chri§§y

    Lol @ banasy...are you jumping yet? How about you @ Rupert? Or you @ Observer? Not me either! BITE ME @ bs! You arent squat and you know it!

    January 7, 2015 at 6:59 pm |
  20. Philip

    So. What's the hot topic for discussion this evening? You gals want to talk about me for a little while or...?

    January 7, 2015 at 7:08 pm |
  21. Philip

    "Nope". Lmao

    January 7, 2015 at 7:10 pm |
  22. Philip

    There is not one Indian in the Americas either. They are all Chinese.

    January 7, 2015 at 7:15 pm |
    • Philip

      ...though it is possible that the Cherokee peoples are descended from ancient Israelites.

      January 7, 2015 at 7:17 pm |
      • Philip

        American Indians are Mongols and Chinese who walked a cross a land bridge that used to exist where Alaska is before global warming started melting the polar ice cap and causing ocean levels to rise. 10 thousand years later you need a boat to get across there.

        January 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm |
  23. chri§§y

    Lmao @ Philip i was talking about blue saffron. You didnt read his post i guess eh? Hes the king here and if he says jump we all better jump. Are YOU jumping yet? Lmao

    January 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm |
    • Philip

      You actually still read his stuff? It's all canned speech and nothing but mish-mash of what talking heads said. He's a parrot. Parakeet?

      January 7, 2015 at 7:23 pm |
  24. chri§§y

    Lol @ philip! Aha take THAT @ blue saffron! Parakeet! I like that...goes well with his lil canary friend! Lmao! Ya see @ bs i told you ya aint SQUAT!

    January 7, 2015 at 7:33 pm |
  25. Philip

    American Indians are living proof that global warming is not man made. Care to debate?

    January 7, 2015 at 7:33 pm |
  26. Hillbilly Blue Saffron

    Yer lucky ye ain't my cousin, Chrissy. Nd thets all am a gonna say about that there. he he

    January 7, 2015 at 7:36 pm |
  27. chri§§y

    How is that proof?

    January 7, 2015 at 7:38 pm |
    • Philip

      Chinese and Mongolian peoples walked across a land bridge that once connected Asia and North America. But about 10 thousand years ago, the earth began to warm and melt the polar ice cap that used to cover most of North America.
      American Indians are living proof that that land bridge existed. And that it took thousands of years for the earth to warm enough to melt the ice cap and so cause ocean levels to rise, which covered over the land bridge.

      January 7, 2015 at 7:44 pm |
      • Philip

        My real Grampa on my mother's side was an American Indian. His tribe arrived in Western Colorado around 1500 AD. (anno domini in the day of our lord) They were all herded onto reservations just prior to the industrial revolution.

        January 7, 2015 at 7:47 pm |
  28. Philip

    Wut up b? Good to see you again my friend. How's it hanging? Lol

    January 7, 2015 at 7:39 pm |
  29. chri§§y

    Lol youre lucky you aint too...my mum woulda squashed you like a bug! Lmao and thats the truth!

    January 7, 2015 at 7:43 pm |
    • Hillbilly Blue Saffron

      Was a talkin' 'bowt puttin' yew ta werk barefoot makin' sour mash, young un. Perhaps remove your mind from the gutter and back up on the side walk.
      What color b yer panties anyway?

      January 7, 2015 at 8:01 pm |
  30. chri§§y

    My brother in law is half Cherokee. His mom is full cherokee and she is absolutely beautiful! Im not being wierd but she just is. Inside and out.

    January 7, 2015 at 8:03 pm |
    • Hillbilly Blue Saffron

      Yeah. Cherokees are much prettier than Mongolians. That's for sure.

      January 7, 2015 at 8:07 pm |
      • Philip

        My mom was the cutest little Indian baby you ever saw. Kind of embarrassed Grampa Roper though. But he raised her anyway. A lot if people just drowned their creamy babies back then. Aussies used to feed them to dingos or donate them to travelling priests.

        January 7, 2015 at 8:14 pm |
      • Philip

        I was browner than the other boys too. I didn't know why at the time but my Grampa used to look at me in disgust when I would shave my head a Mohawk every summer and run around barefoot wearing a loin cloth. I was 28 before I found out for sure that my real grandfather was an Indian.

        January 7, 2015 at 8:21 pm |
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