Thursday, May 05, 2011

Innovating Our Way Out

One of the assumptions that I have always held is that America is a land of opportunity and that with hard work and innovation we will be able to overcome any obstacle and maintain a sense of global dominance as long as we invest in research and development at a greater scale than anyone else. I mean we have a 100 year head start right? In a sobering change of view I no longer see that as the case.

1.)A head start for innovation is becoming more and more meaningless as people can catch up at a much more rapid pace.

2.)If I take some technical companies like say 3M or Medtronic or name a few other whose budget might be 50% RD and still can’t come up with very many new products each year let alone products that are considered innovations. Then the tiny percentage of our GDP that we allocate to RD is probably nowhere close where it should be.

3.)We have so much legislation and red tape and political and procedural bureaucracy that even if someone invented a product it would take a life time to realize it. Say for example today I invented an magic engine that could make its own energy, that no longer required gas, that could power a hover craft that could travel from Minneapolis to London in 5 seconds. This invention would be amazing. It would reduce carbon emissions since we no longer need oil, it would save time, the environment, it would reduce prices since this engine could also make electricity without coal all of a sudden you could power the entire world for pennies a day. Until you realize that the government says your patent can not do any of these things since it is matter of national security. Then after 20 years the oil, car manufacture, coal lobby bog your approval bill down in appropriations committees, you cannot get approval from them to fly the things until they have been studied for environmental impacts for 20 years, pass zoning ordinances, get approval from the TSA etc and all of a sudden you realize that while we are pegging the hopes of our prosperous future on innovation there is a million people for every one innovator that have a vested interest in keeping things just the way they are and unfortunately that place we are is on the declining decent of a aging empire.

1 comment:

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