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Category: Technology

America’s Drift toward Feudalism

America’s emergence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represented a dramatic break from the past. The United States came on the scene with only vestiges of the old European feudal order—mostly in the plantation economy of the Deep South. There was no hereditary nobility, no national church, and, thanks to George Washington’s modesty, no royal…

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Disruptive Innovation in America and China

The concept of disruptive innovation arose from the study of innovation in companies, but it can also be applied to nations. In this essay I will use some of the concepts of disruptive innovation to analyze the dynamics of national innovation and growth in America and China.1 The United States is supposed to be the…

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America Needs an Industrial Policy

The phrase “industrial policy” conjures up images of Europe’s dirigiste failures, corruption in African and Latin American econ­omies, and the disastrous 1984 presidential campaign of Walter Mon­dale. In board rooms and think tanks and even university class rooms across the country, the term generates an instinctive revulsion hard­wired by decades of listening to laissez-faire and…

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Rotten STEM: How Technology Corrupts Education

The U.S. education system spent more than $26 billion on tech­nology in 2018. That’s larger than the entire Israeli military budget. By one estimate, annual global spending on technology in schools will soon total $252 billion. But the technology pushed into schools today is a threat to child development and an unredeemable waste…

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Reinventing Competitiveness

To many, especially in Washington, these are halcyon days for America’s economy. The stock market is at record highs and recent GDP growth has been robust. But look deeper. There’s evi­dence that the structural foundations of America’s economy may be shakier than at any time in recent memory. While the headline statis­tics look sanguine, we…

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Subscription Capitalism: The Story of a Power Shift

The emergence of the internet changed the business landscape in fundamental ways. Computer-based services could be offered to anyone irrespective of geographic restrictions. This meant that internet companies could become globally significant with relatively little initial investment, as demonstrated by Facebook, Google, and several others. Their ability to rapidly concentrate wealth with relatively little overhead…

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Algorithmic Governance and Political Legitimacy

In ever more areas of life, algorithms are coming to substitute for judgment exercised by identifiable human beings who can be held to account. The rationale offered is that automated decision-making will be more reliable. But a further attraction is that it serves to insulate various forms of power from popular pressures. Our readiness to…

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Financing Advanced Manufacturing: Why VCs Aren’t the Answer

In 2013, a group of MIT researchers published a study examining the business trajectory of 150 start-up firms that grew out of technology developed at the university. These were production-related “hardware” firms that actually manufactured things. The firms were able to attract early stage venture capital (VC) funding. They were also able to find the…

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Automation Anxiety in an Age of Stagnation

A cursory glance at Google Trends reveals that interest in robot­ics and automation was far less intense throughout the last decade than interest in proposed solutions to the problems that these tech­nologies are supposedly creating, especially universal basic in­come (UBI). Automation—the process of applying technology and organ­ization to do more with less, with robotics being…

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Rethinking the Knowledge Economy

A new practice of production has emerged in all the major economies of the world. The simplest and most telling of its many names is the knowledge economy. It holds the promise of changing, to our benefit, some of the most deep-seated and universal regularities of economic life and of dramatically enhancing productivity and growth.…

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