GOUSA falls out of Top 10 innovator nations

South Korea returned to first place in the latest Bloomberg Innovation Index, while the U.S. dropped out of a top 10 that features a cluster of European countries…

The Bloomberg index analyzes dozens of criteria using seven equally weighted metrics, including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies…

In a report last year, the National Science Board found that “where once the U.S. was the uncontested leader in science and engineering, we are now playing a less dominant role…”

Given that almost anything BUT science and technology plays an important role in American politics, I have to wonder how long we’ll stay in the Top 20.

Know any politicians who’ve noticed China becoming a global innovator?

❝ China has achieved much since 1978, when Deng Xiaoping initiated the transition to a market economy. In terms of headline economic progress, the pace of China’s transformation over the past 40 years is unprecedented. The country’s GDP grew by nearly 10 percent per year on average, while reshaping global trade patterns and becoming the second-largest economy in the world. This success lifted 800 million people out of poverty, and the mortality rate of children under five years old was halved between 2006 and 2015.

The question now is whether China, well positioned to become the world’s innovation leader, will realize that opportunity in 2018 — or soon after

❝ Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook declared that, “China stopped being a low-labor-cost country many years ago, and that is not the reason to come to China.” The country’s manufacturing strengths now lie in its advanced production know-how and strong supply-chain networks. Understandably, China’s leadership wants to increase productivity and continue to move further up the value chain.

I suggest you read the article. Even though your representatives in Congress will (1) probably act surprised by this and (2) stamp their little feet in anger and fear – fact remains that international trade usually is a cooperative affair and the political maundering is only for that telenovela called electoral politics.

Watt Now?

Indelible moments and sensations dot our lives like mental sequins. And if you look up to the sky, the carbon atoms used in those moments are still there, each one knocking around with two oxygen buddies, trapping just a little bit of solar heat, forever unavailable in the fossil fuel form that society craves and loathes.

It is not an exaggeration to say that almost all our memories took carbon to make. Whoever invented the famous tag line for cotton growers just had the wrong raw material. Carbon: the fabric of our lives…

We could be using half the energy that we’re using,” says political scientist and energy policy expert Mark Bernstein, managing director of the new USC Energy Institute. Launched earlier this year, the think tank aims to build a community of energy and environmental researchers, expand research and education programs, engage outside companies and agencies, and – perhaps most important – help form good policy.

Such policy will have to fit through a shrinking window. Society had more options in the early 1970s, when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was only around 320 parts per million – somewhat higher than the pre-industrial concentration of roughly 280 ppm. Today, with CO2 levels nearing 390 ppm and growing faster than ever, time is a luxury. Predictions of looming “peak oil” – the point at which global oil production starts to decline – add to the urgency.

This is a bumper-size article. Filled with as many sound ideas as words.

Take the time for a read. Comment if you care to. More important, reflect upon what you may learn here and turn your energies to labor in the vineyards of politics.

Most of those who oppose action for – or even consideration of – sensible energy policy haven’t the studying gene. They rely on the usual foolish prejudice of a nation unaccustomed to self-judgement, self-reliance or responsibility for their policies. At the least, this article provides an outline for study and action.

Microsoft will build 3 R&D centers to catch Google’s search. Wha?

Microsoft Corp is opening three research centers in Europe as it steps up efforts to catch market leader Google in the field of Internet searching.

Microsoft, which failed several times to acquire search company Yahoo! Inc, said the new European search technology center would have hubs in Paris, London and Munich. It added its budget for research and development in Europe, which currently stands at $600 million a year, would increase.

We are the challenger, not the leader, in search, but we believe strongly that search is in its infancy and there is so much room for innovation,” Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told a news conference in Paris.

Ballmer declined to say how much the group would invest in these research centers, but said that “over the next few years we expect to employ several hundred people, software developers, in these centers in Europe.”

I realize Microsoft has money to burn; but, this is beyond absurd.

They’re competing after all with software. Google’s hardware advantages are well-known and easy enough to duplicate. You spend your money on adequate easily-replaceable components. Devote your innovation and design to the software.

Top-quality software design is not a question solved by throwing buildings full of software engineers at it. It’s not a question of quantity; but, quality.

Who has Microsoft been hiring all these years? They have tens of thousands of software jocks on the payroll. Are they all just taking up space?