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. Chrissy

    Have they found a cure yet for neutralizing the BO coming from India, Mr. Fareed?

    January 4, 2015 at 6:20 am |
  2. rupert

    Hannah, Blue Saffron and chrissy. Shame on u.
    Keep your poop fet ish to yourself please.
    Thank you.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:22 am |
  3. Chrissy

    Neither have they found a cure to the BO coming from India.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:23 am |
    • rupert

      Why? Curry smell is good

      January 4, 2015 at 6:27 am |
      • rupert

        Hindus smell like s hit. We had to get rid of this person from India in our office.

        January 4, 2015 at 6:39 am |
  4. Philip

    Neither have they found a cure to the BO coming from India.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:24 am |
    • Philip

      Philip would say BO coming out of Chicago and rising to the top. Or BO caused among women when Chemtrail spray kills bacteria that naturally fall to the earth. Get a clue@ my shadow.

      January 4, 2015 at 8:20 am |
  5. chrissy

    Hi. I am the troll at 6:20.
    And I just love to eat camel poop.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:26 am |
  6. rupert

    These mother f ukkin hindus are again stinking this forum with their bad onion smell. I am going to my temple to raipe some hindu goddess with multiple arms and fangs.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:30 am |
    • Philip

      Fangs? Did your mom have really bad teeth, rupert?
      Lol gave myself coffee nose.

      January 4, 2015 at 10:15 am |
  7. Philip

    I eat elephant poop.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:31 am |
  8. rupert

    Hi I am a troll. I posted at 6:27 & 6:30.
    I eat turkey poop.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:39 am |
  9. Hannah

    I eat rabbit poop. So good

    January 4, 2015 at 6:42 am |
  10. Cantor

    Hi. I'm cantor. And I eat cat fish poop

    January 4, 2015 at 6:44 am |
  11. Blue Saffron'

    I eat all poop

    January 4, 2015 at 6:46 am |
  12. Blue Saffron'

    I eat bee poop

    January 4, 2015 at 6:48 am |
  13. Mohammed Tahseen Al Jazrawi

    Obama and the CIA are criminals like no other the world has to deal with. They are punishing North Korea for something they did not do. They created ISIS just like they created al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The US airforce has been dropping weapons, food and clothes to ISIS fighters in Iraq on daily basis and it has been witnessed by people on the ground. The Iraqi guns should be pointing at the American advisors as well as ISIS fighters, close the US embassy in Iraq as well as the Turkish embassy and this should be forever. We've had enough of Erdogan, Natenyahu and Obama, they all look like monkeys and hence should be sent to the African jungle.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:56 am |
  14. Philip

    I eat CIA poop. And I like little boys.

    January 4, 2015 at 6:58 am |
  15. Philip

    I visit Aaron Hernandez in prison. He fu cks me good.

    January 4, 2015 at 7:01 am |
    • Philip

      No, I don't. Sheesh. I've got a 12 year old shadow. Would one of you adults please show how it's done. Thanks.

      January 4, 2015 at 8:18 am |
  16. rupert

    I stopped giving to charity after my mom noticed her purse was missing.

    January 4, 2015 at 8:23 am |
  17. Ram Ganesha

    Obama is like monkey.

    January 4, 2015 at 8:33 am |
    • (above)

      Above is an excerpt from the book "Deep Thoughts" by Ramrod Ganesha.

      January 4, 2015 at 9:03 am |
      • (above)

        Chapter Two....Bush is like a monkey.
        Chapter Three....Did I mention Obama is like a monkey?

        January 4, 2015 at 9:05 am |
  18. a song by R Rod G (hippy hop beat)

    Obama is like a monkey.
    Obama is like a monkey.
    Oh yes he is. Uhh huhh.
    Obama is like a monkey.
    Obama is like a monkey.
    ooh ooh e owe owe owe.

    January 4, 2015 at 9:17 am |
  19. R Ram G (straught-up gangsta beat)

    Obama is be like a monkey.
    Obama is be like a monkey.
    Da Bush bruthas too.
    The Bush bruthas too. Yo.
    Billy Clinton goo.
    Billy Clinton goo.

    January 4, 2015 at 9:23 am |
    • R Ram G (gangsta beat, cont.)

      M. Lewinski peanut butter!
      M. Lewinski peanut butter!
      Cap in your ass.
      Cap in your ass.

      January 4, 2015 at 11:15 am |
  20. rupert

    My mom thinks it's kind of cute but I take straws and stick them up frog butts and blow them up into little balloons. And then squeeze them and make fart noises. It doesn't work very well on kittens though. (shrug)

    January 4, 2015 at 9:27 am |
  21. Philip

    Actually what it is is that music is always playing in Silicon Valley business offices. And they have lots of open spaces and lots of glass letting lots of sunshine into the work environment. And lots of decorative window film and vinyl wall graphics to liven the place up and enhance it's beauty. Plus films and graphics can be easily changed to create a fresh new look that surprises employees when they arrive at work the next morning.
    Lol. You should see the look on geeks faces when they see the new decorative window films and graphics. Lmao. They stop walking and pause for thought. You can see them thinking Am I in the right building? Lol

    January 4, 2015 at 9:47 am |
    • Think Tanks

      It used to be a bunch of old men sitting around drinking coffee trying to dream up new stuff. "Think Tanks". 3M corporation had one where some old man accidentally invented Post-it Note adhesive. (He was actually trying for a super bonding agent that would stick forever)
      Today, it's "Think Atriums". 🙂

      January 4, 2015 at 9:53 am |
    • Philip

      Sheesh. I sound like a corny advertisement for the window film and vinyl graphics industries. And an old 3M distributor. he he

      January 4, 2015 at 10:04 am |
  22. Ram Ganesha

    My name is Ram and I am ashamed to be an Indian. My mama sent me a tiffin box . When I opened it there was a p@nis floating in the lulli curry. It was her neighbor's who raiped her. She cut it off and made curry.

    January 4, 2015 at 9:59 am |
    • Philip

      Big deal. I suck eggs raw and eat fried lamb nuts. What'cha gonna do about it?

      January 4, 2015 at 10:07 am |
      • Ram Ganesha

        I am a hindu. I will raipe your momma.

        January 4, 2015 at 10:11 am |
  23. Ram Ganesha

    My name is Ram and I am ashamed to be an Indian. My mama sent me a tiffin box . When I opened it there was a note from her. She asked me to go raipe some girls in India tonight. I told her NO. I will now follow Chrustianity's teaching and respect girls. My name is Ramu and I am considering converting to Christianity.

    January 4, 2015 at 10:10 am |
    • Philip

      "I will now stop executing convicted rapists and encourage women who were rayped by a family member when they were little girls to NOT confront their abuser and NEVER turn him over to Justice."

      January 4, 2015 at 10:20 am |
      • Philip

        *Him, or her. Whichever the case may be. Even mothers who knew of children being abuses but never alerted the authorities have it coming in spades. Karma, or whatever you wish to call it. They got it coming. Many are experiencing it now.

        January 4, 2015 at 10:24 am |
  24. chri§§y

    I love to slide diamondback rattle snake up my c unt.

    January 4, 2015 at 10:13 am |
  25. chri§§y

    Don't phukk with me people. I am always in black. They call me black widow. My pu ssy smells like tuna.

    January 4, 2015 at 10:19 am |
    • Joey Fettucine

      Will you crawl up my a zz?

      January 4, 2015 at 10:25 am |
    • Dr. Phil

      It smells like tuna because your delicate yeast-to-bacteria has been artificially altered by Chemtrail spraying that kills bacteria that naturally falls from a cloud of dust that envelopes the earth. You need to go pay them money at the pharmacy for relief now. Bye, stinky hiney.

      January 4, 2015 at 10:29 am |
      • Dr. Phil

        Chrussty Pants Syndrome, aka CPS, is NOT caused by chemtrails anti-bacterial spray. It's like the Type 2 of the diabetes family. Voluntary.

        January 4, 2015 at 10:49 am |
  26. chri§§y

    STFU. I am the real one. Actually I am from India. I love to eat chicken tikka masala with Joey's balls floating on the sauce.

    January 4, 2015 at 10:23 am |
  27. Joey Fettucine

    Come to papa Philip. Let me bend you down and f ukk you.

    January 4, 2015 at 10:27 am |
  28. Dr. Phil

    Joey Fettuccine. That was funny. Lol

    January 4, 2015 at 10:33 am |
    • banasy©

      You just have to be the ugly man that you are. Don't you Phillip. You ignorant as.s.

      January 4, 2015 at 11:15 am |
      • banasy©

        You can write out the word "ass", you know.


        January 4, 2015 at 11:57 am |
  29. Philip

    American innovation IS in trouble because the War Department already has all the advanced technology they needed us to develop for them. That's why Pentagon funding is being reduced dramatically. They already have everything they need to entertain you and spy on you at the same time. That's all it was for, really. Wars are excuses for it.

    January 4, 2015 at 10:44 am |
  30. Dr. Phil

    @rupert. You mentioned earlier that you were thinking of satisfying your manly urges with an Indian princess that has "fangs". Tell me, little r. Did your mommy have really bad teeth when you were a little boy?

    January 4, 2015 at 10:46 am |
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