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. rupert

    I see the one with many names is back..dumb canary

    January 2, 2015 at 4:08 pm |
  2. rupert

    Kaali Maa just s ukked my cok. She licked every ounce of sperm. S ukked my bollz to a pulp.

    January 2, 2015 at 4:11 pm |
  3. rupert

    I am a donkey f ukking black colored hindoo k unt licker.

    January 2, 2015 at 4:12 pm |
  4. rupert

    Hindoos from India love to shove Lird Shiva's d ik up their a zzes. They call it pooja.

    January 2, 2015 at 4:14 pm |
  5. rupert

    Blah blah blah

    January 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm |
  6. rupert

    Lird ganesha just shoved his s nout ip his own a zz. Hindoos call it self actualization. I cann it f ukkin the hindoo self. India's national sport. Those mutter phukkers with a terrible BO.

    January 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm |
  7. rupert

    Gandhi was a cow f ukker. A hindoo bastaurdzz

    January 2, 2015 at 4:16 pm |
  8. rupert

    Apple Pie is to Americans what gang raipes are to Indian Hinddooze.

    If it was up to hindus they would be raiping apple pies also.

    January 2, 2015 at 4:23 pm |
  9. rupert

    Pundits in India come to our homes and f ukk our hindoo muthers in India. It is part of pooja.

    Hare om hare om.
    Muther fukkin om om om om

    January 2, 2015 at 4:25 pm |
  10. rupert

    Gandhi used to tickle Churchill's balls and lick his a zz. Then come home and shove his donkey's long d ikk up his hindoo a zz.that was in India where people eat s hit for pancakes.

    January 2, 2015 at 4:30 pm |
  11. Canary

    The motter gokkin hinduz from india vugges out . Those cok sokker indians

    January 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm |
  12. Canary

    Lol. Where them hinduz go? Lmfao. Those ones from India with nasty BO.

    January 2, 2015 at 4:44 pm |
  13. Canary

    Lord Shiva just bent Modi over and inserted his d ik up his a zz.

    January 2, 2015 at 4:45 pm |
  14. Canary

    Ok chrizzy you can come out now. Ya mother f okkin beetch from bombay. Lol

    January 2, 2015 at 4:47 pm |
  15. Bat

    I am not a plumber but the only way to solve the raipe epidemic in India is to reroute the hindu male urinary tract to rear orifice. Thus enabling the butchering of the weiner to be fed to Russians/Ukranians.

    Hare krishna hare ram them mother phuckers

    January 2, 2015 at 4:51 pm |
  16. Banasy

    Why do hinddoos from India smell like skunks?

    January 2, 2015 at 4:56 pm |
    • Banasy

      Bcause they eat s hit.

      January 2, 2015 at 4:57 pm |
    • Chrissy

      Vlah vlah vlav
      I don't want to hear about India. But I want to hear about kama sutra. About rhaypes that hindoos do. About their cannibalism. About how they burn girls.
      Blah vlah blah

      January 2, 2015 at 5:27 pm |
  17. Blue Saffron

    Blah blah blah
    Big deal

    January 2, 2015 at 5:07 pm |
  18. Philip Eugene Douglas

    I eat banasy's sh it.

    January 2, 2015 at 5:24 pm |
  19. Chrissy

    Blah blah vlah
    Tell me tell me
    Why hindoo pkluck camels and goats.

    January 2, 2015 at 5:29 pm |
  20. Chrissy

    Stay away from Indians. There is swine flu going around in hindoo DNA.

    January 2, 2015 at 5:32 pm |
  21. Philip Eugene Douglas

    STFU chrissy.

    January 2, 2015 at 5:33 pm |
  22. Philip Eugene Douglas

    I am proof that monkeys fu kk Blue Saffron

    January 2, 2015 at 5:35 pm |
  23. Philip Eugene Douglas

    My grandparents are proof that donkeys fu ck monkeys. Lol

    January 2, 2015 at 5:37 pm |
  24. Philip Eugene Douglas

    I sukk di ck

    January 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm |
  25. Blue Saffron

    I su ck Philip's a.s.s.z.

    January 2, 2015 at 6:04 pm |
  26. Philip Eugene Douglas

    I eat my mother's ku nt after blue saffron shoves his fat di ck up my a.s.s.z

    January 2, 2015 at 6:08 pm |
  27. Philip Eugene Douglas

    Blue Saffron is an old c unt

    January 2, 2015 at 6:12 pm |
  28. Blue Saffron

    What! No Philip. You're an old c unt.

    January 2, 2015 at 6:27 pm |
  29. Blue Saffroń

    It breaks my heart to read these comments. A terrible start to 2015. Please don't use other's IDs... Use mine if you have to camouflage your nasty comments. I be your huckleberry.

    January 2, 2015 at 6:32 pm |
  30. rupert

    OMG! I am heartbroken that anyone would post such inappropriate comments. Truly sad.

    This is my first comment. I feel very uncomfortable.

    January 2, 2015 at 7:05 pm |
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