Thanks to everyone who wrote in last week giving your opinion of U.S. competitiveness and the role technologies and government have to play (see, "Don't Let U.S. Tech Edge Slip"). Some criticized high-tech CEOs for sending jobs offshore instead of investing in U.S. resources. "The adage 'necessity is the mother of invention' is true. Necessity is also the mother of innovation. ... Technology and innovation are going to happen everywhere, but these same CEOs bemoaning the loss of our technical edge are the ones who are frittering it away for an enhanced short-term bottom line," one reader said.
Another said, "Where we fall behind other major world players is in scale. ... Our systems fall behind when it comes to coverage, not technology. The telecom companies refuse to spread out to rural areas because, according to them, they have to upgrade their systems and they wouldn't get big $$$$ returns. It's not the technology that's in jeopardy, it's the availability that's killing us."
Another said not to forget the innovation that has come from government. "It's somewhat befuddling that you can hail private concern about innovation by the very private, 'free-market,' interests who aren't doing it, while conveniently forgetting the government-driven history of technology in the USA."
The debate over U.S. competitiveness isn't going to diminish anytime soon, and there's room for innovation and outsourcing, but we've got good reasons to be confident. It was gratifying last week to be in the company of some of the nation's leading technology and science pioneers and the next generation of innovators. During a ceremony at the White House, President Bush awarded the National Medals of Science and Technology to the inventor of Ethernet, one of the industry's leading visionaries on software quality, and others (see, Ethernet Inventor And Software-Quality Visionary Earn Technology Medals). In the audience were the participants in the Intel Science Talent Search contest (see, Intel Education: Highlights From Intel STS 2005). The winner, a 17-year-old senior from Hunter College High School, developed a sensor for rapidly detecting exposure to toxic biochemical agents.
If these pioneers and kids don't give you a feeling of a very bright future where technology innovation is limitless, then I don't know what will. Congrats to the past, current, and future innovators.
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