Monday, June 24, 2013

The importance of government research

Blumeberg columnist Mark Buchanan has written an article with the catchy title Who Created the IPhone, Apple or the Government?, in which he argues that government sponsored research has played a major role in the invention of the iPhone and much more.

I wrote a recent post about Presidential science initiatives, including several by President Obama, and have written articles on the role of government sponsored research in developing the personal computer and the Internet:
  • Before the Altair: the history of personal computing, CACM 1993
  • Seeding networks: the federal role, CACM 1996
I also compiled a bibliography of early contributions in:
  • The precursors of personal computing, ACM SIGSMALL/PC Notes, 1988
To retrieve these articles click here and scroll down to or search for the titles.

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Update 7/1/2013

In a provocative blog post, Lee Vinsel asks what new technologies might come out of the NSA surveillance activity.  Will we get innovative new technologies or are they just using established techniques of big data mining and server farms? Also -- if there are new technologies, will they belong to the US people or to contractors like Booz Hamilton, which hired Edward Snowden?

This leads me to wonder whether the increasing reliance of government at all levels on contractors will diminish socially shared innovation.