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. Philip

    S.T.F.U c unt.

    January 2, 2015 at 8:01 pm |
  2. banasy

    That beetch chrissy is getting her p ussie tightened up.

    January 2, 2015 at 8:51 pm |
  3. banasy

    Philip, did you remember to phuck your momma in India.

    January 2, 2015 at 8:52 pm |
  4. Philip

    Yes. After I fu/ck ed Blue Saffron's mother.

    January 2, 2015 at 9:00 pm |
    • Blue Saffroń

      Listen, hotshot. I'm gonna tell you something right now. I don't care for you or for the putrid sludge you're troweling out. But until they implement the laws and put you sleaze kings out of business, my job is to help you get out of your stenchering boxes of s mut. And since I'll be doing it holding my nose, Ill be doing it with one hand.

      January 2, 2015 at 9:11 pm |
      • Philip

        You listen, hot shot, I'm gonna tell you something right now. I don't care for you.

        January 3, 2015 at 10:14 am |
    • Banasy

      So you did rhaype your momma @Philip. Good boy. Durga Maa will be proud of you.

      January 3, 2015 at 5:49 am |
  5. Blue Saffroń

    Since everyone wants to p iss on India, here is my two cents on this matter. Narendra Modi is nothing more than a Hindu rat who is responsible for the genocide of minorities in India in the millions. I wonder where he was when India was invaded and conquered by a handful of playful kids. Wonder which trench he was hiding in? Wonder which hole he was in. Such cowards can only commit genocides. Nothing else.

    Kick his a zz to Guantanamo and rectum feed this murderer.

    January 2, 2015 at 9:05 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber is a Punk .

    January 2, 2015 at 9:08 pm |
  7. Steven Brooks

    So, Fareed, are you ever going to comment on the fact that you've been caught AGAIN plagiarizing the material of others?

    CNN, are you going to let this stand?

    He's a thief, folks, plain and simple, and he's done it his entire career. Shameful.

    January 2, 2015 at 9:27 pm |
  8. Grady

    Stupid i diots just polluting this forum. Nothing intelligent to say. Just i diotic ramblings like Fareed writing his blogs. These Indians are a disgrace to our great country. Mexicans are geniuses compared to these hindoos. At least they believe in Jesus not some ugly duckling terrorist deities.

    January 2, 2015 at 9:35 pm |
  9. Monty Marino

    A Hmong just f hucked Phlips's mama. Tore her c unt into lo mein.

    January 2, 2015 at 9:40 pm |
    • Chap

      He has a mother? Thought Philip was a b@stard.

      January 2, 2015 at 10:06 pm |
  10. Monty Marino

    Chrissy got f ukked by a baboon in the zoo. Philip and rupert were born. Joey and Ferhat died when Blue Saffron's d ik struck them in the womb.

    January 2, 2015 at 9:43 pm |
  11. Blue Saffroń

    Now let me tell you something, ya trolling c/ockroaches. There are two things that clearly differentiate the human species from animals. One, we use cutlery. Two, we're capable of controlling our seyxual urges. Now, you might be an exception, but don't drag me down into your private Hell.

    January 2, 2015 at 11:26 pm |
  12. Aiden Buford

    Innovation is alive and well:

    ✔️ Waterboarding by Americans
    ✔️ Metal rodding by hindus in India

    Fareed, please revisit your hypothesis.

    January 3, 2015 at 4:56 am |
  13. Sky Hi

    Well said @Grady, them turbanators from 3rd world should be put in camps and deported.

    January 3, 2015 at 5:11 am |
  14. chri§§y

    You made my day @Philip. Gita Bhagavad clearly sanctions the act of rhaping as a holy worship. We in India are hindus who take this very seriously and that is our mantra.

    January 3, 2015 at 5:16 am |
    • Stoke Milchap

      I don't care to hear about India all the time. Take your raipes and f ukk off to Bombay.

      January 3, 2015 at 5:28 am |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    Ahhhh... The good ole days!
    No more. Sob Sob.
    Till we meet again chrissy.

    January 3, 2015 at 5:21 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      The topic is troubled American innovation.
      When the USA lacked the benefits of iinnovation in computers, USA citizens' thinking was far better, but human beings had to do more work to acquire information.
      "Ah yes, I remember it well." Do you know who more or less sang that, in a film made during the good old days?
      I am grateful that I got to live when things were good.

      January 3, 2015 at 7:46 am |
  16. Philip

    The violence in Indian-held Kashmir is the result of decades of repressive Indian policies and imposition of sham elections in the region.

    We call upon India to understand that the people of Jammu and Kashmir would accept nothing short of their right to self-determination as promised to them by the UNSC and accepted by India and the international community.

    January 3, 2015 at 5:25 am |
  17. Banasy

    Modi used to live on a mango tree in India with monkeys. There he met @chri§§y who was eating fleas off ITS skin. Modi forced @chri§§y to give him a B J. in exchange for a banana. Modi reneged. @chri§§y shoved the strapped d ik up Modi's a zz. Bal Thackeray got born as a result. Hindus raipe each other to celebrate.

    January 3, 2015 at 5:39 am |
  18. Banasy

    Chrissy is a camel s hit eating POS from India. She is of hindu cult and believes in rhaipes as reincarnation of Lord Shiva.

    January 3, 2015 at 5:47 am |
  19. Peter Sebastian

    This Modi guy.... Isn't he India's prime minister who raiped his wife? Google search says so.

    January 3, 2015 at 5:52 am |
  20. Philip

    Knock it off. If you're going to use my name write something decent and factual.
    Thank you.

    January 3, 2015 at 7:42 am |
  21. Philip

    Like a true Indian and a follower of hindooism I raipe my mother every day ... every day. Then I go to mandir to rub Lord Shiva's linga (d ik). Thus culminates my pooja (prayers).

    January 3, 2015 at 7:56 am |
    • Philip

      My mother is 83 years old, you moron.

      January 3, 2015 at 8:22 am |
  22. Philip

    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. But the thing that makes their ancient traditions bizarre is that they are also practicing cannibals and their temples are cremation grounds.

    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 3, 2015 at 8:00 am |
  23. Blue Saffroń

    Innovation is not the exclusive domain of federal funding nor an outcome of. Toilets costing several million dollars is often the outcome.

    Therefore, R&D is best financed by private sector. And it is. I would suggest Fareed, CNN and their team to research the financial statements of public companies to determine the extent of this investment.

    January 3, 2015 at 8:09 am |
  24. Blue Saffroń

    I would also recommend to CNN to research the IRS tax code as there are tax breaks for companies to fund such R&D. Thus providing incentives for innovating. This is good public policy.

    January 3, 2015 at 8:13 am |
  25. Blue Saffroń

    My thesis is that innovation should be privatized. Obviously this is contrary to CNN's stance of federalism. I welcome a debate on this issue, CNN. And I challenge the community on this forum to engage in healthy and meaningful discourse.

    January 3, 2015 at 8:16 am |
  26. Philip

    Tired of the India bashing...BS, change the record will you? Dead topic anyway.

    January 3, 2015 at 8:20 am |
  27. Philip

    I read your posts out of morbid curiosity. Like a bad auto accident. You just have to see it.

    January 3, 2015 at 8:25 am |
  28. Philip

    Chrissy and banasy won't be posting until Monday or Tuesday. They will be spending some time at a cow farm..fat pigs.

    January 3, 2015 at 8:28 am |
    • Blue Saffroń

      Certainly, you should know. Lol. Thise are your other pen names. Posting filth.

      January 3, 2015 at 8:38 am |
  29. Blue Saffroń

    Why do we need innovation? I pose this question to CNN as the community on this forum debates whether to debate the issue at hand.

    From my perch the goal of innovation is to improve the quality of life for humanity.

    Here is my suggestion. Again open to debate. Over 15.5 million people in Indian Occupied Kashmir are suffering as they have not been provided the opportunity of plebiscite mandated by UN and international laws. This has been going on for 70 Years. It took Russians one week to hold plebiscite in Crimea. Therefore we should transfer this innovation from Russia to India to benefit humanity. We will call it transfer of technology.

    CNN, I welcome a debate on this element of innovation. Fareed, care to delve into it? Thanks.

    January 3, 2015 at 8:33 am |
  30. Philip

    BS couldn't improve the quality life of a flea, much less humanity. Just a lot of hot air and BS.

    January 3, 2015 at 9:02 am |
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