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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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Showing posts for "Innovation"

Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy

by Edward Alden

I am delighted to announce the publication of my new book, Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy, which is the product of nearly four years of research and a quarter century spent as a reporter and policy analyst covering the ups and downs of America’s trade policies. As my friend and former reporting colleague Bruce Stokes of the Pew Research Institute said recently, for those of us who have labored in the obscure details of U.S. trade negotiations for decades, it has been astonishing to see trade become one of the hot-button issues of the 2016 presidential election. It is even more astonishing to see a Republican presidential candidate running on an openly protectionist platform, and to see a Democratic internationalist like Hillary Clinton running away from her record on trade. Read more »

Renewing America Progress Report on U.S. Innovation

by Edward Alden

Management theorist Peter Drucker famously declared that companies must “innovate or die.” Washington today is full of similar warnings, based on the premise that the United States is losing its innovation edge. The fear is that industrial and technological advancements in other countries—and in China in particular—threaten to leave us behind. Read more »

Job-Saving Technologies

by Michael Spence
LinkedIn logo Mountain View California Robert Galbraith Reuters The logo for LinkedIn Corporation is shown in Mountain View, California (Robert Galbraith/Reuters).

This post was co-written with James Manyika, director of the McKinsey Global Institute.

SAN FRANCISCO – This is an age of anxiety about the job-killing effects of automation, with dire headlines warning that the rise of robots will render entire occupational categories obsolete. But this fatalism assumes that we are powerless to harness what we create to improve our lives – and, indeed, our jobs. Read more »

Automation, Productivity, and Growth

by Michael Spence
Automated robots engine assembly line Ford Lima Engine Plant Ohio Automated robots work on a 3500 Duramax engine as it moves along the assembly line at the Ford Lima Engine Plant in Lima, Ohio (Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters).

It seems obvious that if a business invests in automation, its workforce – though possibly reduced – will be more productive. So why do the statistics tell a different story?

In advanced economies, where plenty of sectors have both the money and the will to invest in automation, growth in productivity (measured by value added per employee or hours worked) has been low for at least 15 years. And, in the years since the 2008 global financial crisis, these countries’ overall economic growth has been meager, too – just 4% or less on average. Read more »

Labor’s Digital Displacement

by Michael Spence
3D printer sculpture Hanover Germany A 3D printer produces a sculpture at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover, Germany (Fabrizio Bensch/Courtesy Reuters).

Digital technologies are once again transforming global value chains and, with them, the structure of the global economy. What do businesses, citizens, and policymakers need to know as they scramble to keep up? Read more »

Driverless Cars

by Steven J. Markovich
A monitor in the back seat displays sensor readings and other information in a driverless car at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University (Kevin Bartram/Courtesy Reuters).

Driverless cars promise great benefits such as fewer accidents, elimination of drunk driving, better utilization of existing highways, and letting commuters work or relax while en route. The technology has developed rapidly over the past decade, aided by research grants from multiple governments and competitions funded by the U.S. military. While several automakers have announced plans to bring cars with limited autonomous capabilities to the market by 2020, there is still a need for a clear legal framework that ensures self-driving vehicles are safe while setting appropriate limits for manufacturer’s liability. A new backgrounder, Driverless Cars, explores this emerging technology, the challenges that remain, and its benefits, which have been estimated at over a trillion dollars annually for the U.S. economy.

We Don’t Know If Our Patent System is Working

by Rebecca Strauss
A woman tries the silver colored version of the new iPhone 5S after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters).

“Innovation” is a hot buzzword in Washington. In a city gripped by partisanship, being pro-innovation is something everyone can agree on. One of the most direct ways the federal government participates in the innovation economy is through the legal protection of tangible innovations themselves, or patents. Yet incredibly, no one has a good grasp of whether the U.S. patent system is doing what it was intended to do—promote innovation. Read more »

Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness

by Steven J. Markovich
With the Earth in the background, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm (Photo provided by NASA/Courtesy Reuters).

The Space Race of the 1960s spurred groundbreaking investments in research and education, inspiring a generation of Americans to enter the fields of science and engineering. These investments not only propelled the United States to preeminence in space exploration, but also planted the seeds for future innovation and economic competitiveness in many industries. A new backgrounder, Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness, explores the advancements produced by the U.S. space program, and discusses the challenges and opportunities that the program faces today.

Why Manufacturing Really Matters: Gary Pisano and Willy Shih on Innovation

by Edward Alden
An employee works on the production of high-power semiconductors at a manufacturing plant of Swiss engineering group ABB on May 30, 2012 (Michael Buholzer/Courtesy Reuters). An employee works on the production of high-power semiconductors at a manufacturing plant of Swiss engineering group ABB on May 30, 2012 (Michael Buholzer/Courtesy Reuters).

If there is any consensus in the debate over how to revitalize the American economy, it is over innovation. Innovation, we can all readily concur, is the only way for an advanced economy like the United States – which cannot grow by copying and imitating others – to continue to boost productivity and raise living standards. But understanding why useful innovations occur, and what if anything governments can do to foster them, quickly degenerates into a clash between free market absolutists and industrial policy aficionados. Read more »

U.S. Patents and Innovation

by Renewing America Staff
A man talks on a mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai on September 3, 2012 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters). A man talks on a mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai on September 3, 2012 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters).

This week saw more high profile patents in the news. Apple alone saw the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issue initial rejections of its patents on “pinch-to-zoom” and other iPhone features while it fended off a claim from Google’s Motorola Mobility, while in Europe smartphone rival Samsung faces antitrust scrutiny patent lawsuits against Apple. Read more »