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Another Voice Warns of an Innovation Slowdown - NYTimes.com
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 10:50:48 -0400

I want to add my agreement with David. I am on Samsung's Telecom Presidents advisory board (all 2 of us) so I get a rather broad view of Samsung. They have made and I suspect will continue to make a major investment in technology, in facilities and in research. I also saw several years ago NTT DoCoMo's investment in research and it too was major -- Not sure what it is now since the change of Presidents. Meanwhile BellLabs Holmdel is growing weeds in the gardens not technology or great researchers.

Dave

Begin forwarded message:

From: "David P. Reed" <dpreed () reed com>
Date: September 1, 2008 9:39:10 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Cc: ip <ip () v2 listbox com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Another Voice Warns of an Innovation Slowdown - NYTimes.com

Dave - from my perspective I found this article interesting because the headline "spins" it in an interesting direction.

I don't think there is an innovation slowdown in the *world*. There is one in the US. I'd focus on the point made in the article, that the dominant set of students in our Ph.D. programs in technology related programs are non-US citizens.

My research group of 8 graduate students at MIT is typical - 1 US student out of 8.

If I were to discuss with them how they feel about this article, I suspect they'd laugh at it - maybe ROTFLTAO, as we say. *They* certainly are not worried about a *national* shortage of innovators in mobile wireless communications. They have great futures at, for example, Samsung if they want - a company that has strong and innovative labs in Korea, Israel, etc. Or Huawei, which is investing heavily in innovation and growth in the highly innovative, non-US markets.

Korea has adopted technology faster than America has. So have many non- G8 countries.

So I agree with Judy, whom I've known for a long time, that the US population is not doing well at innovation.

Perhaps it is time for the US tech sector to "get over" its assumption that "we" are necessarily the world's innovator and "they" must accept their roles as the world's indentured servants. There's nothing about whiteness that creates innovators. Markets enable innovators. Our market gets smaller every day - it's supported by a credit card from China and other producers of labor, energy resources, .... Soon it won't matter much whether products are introduced in the US first, or second, or even third.

We do have a lead in technical education in our universities. But we've already lost the lead we had in practical education "on the job" by the tendency of multinationals to move their product development over to Asia. Now if you want to become a great product developer - you do it in Asia. Universities don't do practical training of product development engineers like the ones who used to work for me at Lotus Development when I was a v.p. for seven years. They learn on the job. And that depends on where the job is.

I suspect this won't impress the folks inside the Beltway. Too many advisers to the US political class are making money for themselves by sucking up to the powerful and telling them about their imperial puissance. The multinationals won't tell the US government that they've moved talent offshore (their "brand" implies US, but look at who really does the ODM work for, say, Cisco - is it a US product development company or just a US G&A company with a sales force?)

The advisers and CEOs are constantly for their own private reasons reminding the homeland politicians of past US achievements in technology and the US's current ability to *project power* which will keep those other countries in line, and have them keep making the cool gadgets we buy in malls from multi-national companies who thrive on non-US innovation.

Here's my guess: I don't think it will be long before the privatized military and intelligence-sector companies the US depends on will decide to also move their base of operations outside the US - to Dubai, like one major "US" contractor did? The markets are bigger, labor is cheaper, and the politicians less short-sighted.



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