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Using the Juicero as a starting point, this article makes the argument that without heavy government involvement, the private sector doesn’t really innovate.

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    The thing is, so long as we expect innovation to come from nearly un-capitalized people working out of a table at Starbucks, juicero and Uber-but-for-toothpaste is all we’re going to get.

    If you want more fundamental progress, you have to be willing to shell out for more space, bigger toys, and more time.

    Monopolies like Ma Bell used to pay for that sort of thing.

    Universities used to pay for that sort of thing.

    The government still pays for that sort of thing, though not as much.

    But until more money goes for more basic projects, all we’re going to see is stuff that’s 6 months to market.

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      Anti-intellectualism is what’s killing America.

      This is just one front of a multi-front war.

      You see it on the left (anti-vax, extremist identity politics under which people become an enemy just for being white and male) but you see a lot more of it on the right. People don’t want to think, or read, or trust in arguments that are intellectual rather than emotional in nature. You see it in a college culture more focused on being an expensive resort than on what is taught.

      I’d go on a Boomer rant but the Gen Xers running Silicon Valley are even worse. As for Millennials, it’s hard to tell. There are a lot of garbage Millennials in the sun right now, but I tend to believe that this is because we’re a young generation and right now we’re seeing the ones whose careers were produced by Boomers. It’s hard to tell whether things are going to get worse or better in the next 15 years.

      Single issues, in isolation, could be fixed. If the only problem were low research funding, we could raise taxes and fund more. If the Republican Party were the problem while the Democratic party were flawless, then the conservative movement would implode. The issue is more complicated. Anti-intellectualism is a multi-organ failure of a culture.

      The biggest surprise to me was the discovery of anti-intellectualism within the supposedly intellectual classes. You have scientists who don’t read literature and you have artists who defend their scientific illiteracy because science “is just numbers” to them. You have people in publishing looking for the next E.L. James instead of the next Faulkner, and you have a technology industry focused on short-term profit at the expense of all else. The lack of curiosity and interest outside of a narrow professional domain is something you see everywhere.

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        Off topic, but I never really though of anti-vax as a lefty thing, but I guess many people do. There’s more to it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/01/26/the-biggest-myth-about-vaccine-deniers-that-theyre-all-a-bunch-of-hippie-liberals/?utm_term=.08a6acf05bb5

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          Most anti-vaxers I know are Republicans.

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        I think there’s a great deal of truth to that article, in part because I tend to feel that there hasn’t been a meaningful shift in technology since the 70s, when the early iterations of what became the Internet were laid down. The past three decades have been the story of the democratization of technology, not really the invention of new technology. We all carry a supercomputer in our pockets that can talk to anybody else’s supercomputer, but all the pieces of that were already there. We just had to make them small and cheap enough that everyone could have one.

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          In a way, everybody having a “supercomputer” in their pocket hasn’t played out very well, either, and almost demonstrates the anti-intellectualism somebody else mentioned.

          A thing I’ve noticed reading some early computer books (like this one by one of the inventors of BASIC)), is that many early computer pioneers expected computer programming (and other computer skills) would grow as computers became more ubiquitous. A person wouldn’t just have a computer, but they’d know how to program it to do simple tasks.

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            I’d love if everyone knew some basic bash or python. Even just basic formulas in excel can teach you something about applying a combination of mathematics, logic and programming to solve a problem. Programming in general is pretty cool and many people don’t even know what they are missing out on while they are consumers checking their Facebook stream for 2 hours each night.

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            There’s a huge amount of new technology coming out of the bio sciences. Genome editing and sequencing are good places to look.

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            Poor journalism with a sensationalist twist aimed at selling ads.

            Then again, part of the conclusion holds, basic research doesn’t get enough funding.

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              This is screamingly off-topic and also please don’t editorialize in story descriptions, that’s what comments are for.

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                As a newbie, I’m curious as to what about this story screams “off-topic” to you. Is it not technology-focused enough? Too political? Too newspaperish?

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                  My complaints:

                  • It comes from the Guardian, so it automatically gets knocked for being from a newspaper. News here is a bad idea, beyond some exemptions for releases or certain types of narrowly-useful things. News is the mind killer.
                  • It uses an easy punching bag of Juicero, which is frankly very well engineered (perhaps even over engineered, and DRM notwithstanding would probably continue to do it’s function for decades if left untouched.).
                  • It eschews maybe better targets (Tesla == electric car BUT FOR THE RICH, Space == rockets FOR THE RICH, the Musk ego-industrial complex, literally gajillions of health apps, any of the customer surveillance stuff going on, Apple products of any type, etc.).
                  • It decides that the solution is public sector investment (when the NSF/NIH kinda show that that doesn’t translate automatically to anything other than a scramble to write papers and fuel the academic-industrial complex) rather than benevolent monopolies (AT&T/Ma Bell did fantastic work because it believed, for a while anyways, that it had a public duty to serve the people–only later did it forsake that duty in pursuit of profits; common 20th century business theme).
                  • It blithely asserts “the public sector can take risks that the private can’t”, without ever really showing those risks or showing that it both can and will.
                  • It doesn’t really describe what exactly these innovations are–they’re some magical fucking unicorn thing without the ability to be critiqued. It’s sloppy.

                  I could go on, but this is just a trash article and it’s only real purpose is to capture middle/upper-middle clicks and inspire stupid ill-defined arguments on forums such as these.

                  Good riddance.

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                    “Musk ego-industrial complex” is a term I didn’t know I needed.

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                      It blithely asserts “the public sector can take risks that the private can’t”, without ever really showing those risks or showing that it both can and will.

                      Good list. I always remind people on these points to bring up Interstates, GPS, open Internet, and Strategic Computing Initiative. Huge projects acting against financial interests of those doing them benefiting the public good better than private sector for each area. Most people haven’t even heard of the SCI despite it being behind all kinds of amazing tech that fed into today’s offerings. Private sector usually gets credit for them since the money mostly went to private companies but they wouldn’t have done those without the public money focused on specific, risky objectives.

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                        Poor Al Gore who got mocked and ridiculed because he took credit for his enormously successful role in Congress funding, protecting, and developing the Internet. Our dipwit media cackled like a gym class in some sort of horrid prep school because the uncool boy wanted to talk about public policy and economics.

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                        It eschews maybe better targets (Tesla == electric car BUT FOR THE RICH, Space == rockets FOR THE RICH,

                        What are the poor going to do with rockets?

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                          They mainly party or play with them. Some of those playing with rockets go on to make enough money to drag their families out of poverty or increase support net. I agree it’s mostly a bad example, though.

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                            What are the rich going to do? Vacation, maybe do some basic science tests, maybe a few of them will die? It is all rather pointless.

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                              Well, everything is pointless, if you want to go there, but Space-X customers are mostly governments, big companies, and scientific institutions (which are pretty much parts of governments). I don’t think they have much of a wealthy tourist customer base.

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                          It’s about government policy and capitalism, not the actual design, implementation, or use of technology. My thoughts on the definition of “on-topic” are here.

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                        The reporter should take a look at the biotech sector (startups and mature companies). Perhaps they may change their view.

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                          Biotech has received a massive dose of public investment.

                          I’m often astounded by people working in tech who don’t understand the key role of public financing in R&D. It’s as if the Internet was unknown to them.

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                            The startup portion of biotech is especially closely tied to the public investment; a huge percentage of startups are university spinoffs, which do the first N years of research using NIH funding, and then spin off a company to commercialize it once it seems sufficiently viable.

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                              When the myth suits the self conception, why are we surprised that it’s so ineradicable?