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United States Technology

US No Longer Technology King 815

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the i-coulda-been-somebody dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that according to a recent report from the World Economic Forum the US has lost the leading spot for technology innovation. The new reigning champ is now apparently Denmark with other Nordic neighbors Sweden, Finland and Norway all claiming top spots as well. "Countries were judged on technological advancements in general business, the infrastructure available and the extent to which government policy creates a framework necessary for economic development and increased competitiveness."
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US No Longer Technology King

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  • Telecomm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dedazo (737510) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:52PM (#18521077) Journal
    It appears it's mostly based on that... but then we all know this country sucks there in regards to Europe and Asia. As soon as the FCC stops sucking up to the big telecom corps and opens up the spectrum, the game is on again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DCheesi (150068)
      Keep in mind that all of the countries that are listed above the US are much smaller than the US, with higher population densities. Thus it's easier to reach high broadband penetration rates in those countries.
      • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:00PM (#18521211) Homepage Journal
        Wireless can take care of the problem rather neatly if it's allowed to exist. Satellite could take care of the problem, too, if they had more capacity. If the former is being blocked by the FCC (they do sell spectrum to the highest bidder, which is not necessarily in the public interest, and thus a violation of their charter) then it's an artificial limitation, not a natural one. I don't know what's stopping the latter, unless they simply can't afford to loft another bird, or they're just waiting for them to be built. SkyBlue in particular is oversold... And I'm told that Hughes has their own problems as well. DirectTV won't sell me satellite service for some reason, must be oversold as well...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chainsaw (2302)
        Sorry, that might be correct for Denmark, but not for the other nordic countries. Population density in the US is 31/km2. Denmark is very dense with 128.48/km2, Sweden has 20/km2, and Finland 16/km2.
        • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:15PM (#18521409) Journal

          What's interesting is not the mean, but rather the standard deviation. The U.S. has a large concentration along the coast, but a third of the population is rural. That's very unusual. Most countries with low population density tend to have very high density along the coast and almost nobody anywhere else. Sweden, for example, has 84% of its population spread over only 1.4% of its land area. The U.S. has 80% of its people in urban areas, so a lower percentage, and spread across a whopping 3%. Thus, assuming the definitions of urban vs. rural are similar between those two statistics (I'm not certain), the urban areas are only about half as dense, and the rural areas are roughly 25% more populous.

          • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Informative)

            by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @07:27PM (#18522371) Journal
            And so many people forget just how BIG the US is. You can fly for 6 hours and still be over the same country. Most people in Europe really don't understand the scale of the US...

            Having been the Europe many times, I've often been asked by friends and colleagues why we in the US don't have high speed trains everywhere. Well, considering that - if we used the fastest TVGs and ICEs they have in the EU - it would still take about 7 hours to take a train from Seattle (where I live) to San Francisco - the nearest big city (assuming 300 KPH and slowing down for the occasional towns/crossings). Or 30 hours from Seattle to Miami, at the same average speed.

            Compare that to under 2 hours for Paris to Brussels. It's just a different scale over here. And that makes telecom also difficult. Distances between big population centers would cover multiple EU countries. It takes a lot of time and a lot of money to pull more fiber from Seattle to Chicago, or Houston to Los Angeles... It's not a small 150-100 kilometer run of fiber; it's literally hundreds - if not thousands - of kilometers to cover.

            • The last mile (Score:3, Informative)

              by bjourne (1034822)
              As has been pointed out many times previously on Slashdot, it is the Last Mile that counts. Putting down a few thousand kilometers of fibre in rural areas isn't that expensive. What costs is connecting each and every user of the network to the hubs.

              This is where European cities have a big advantage. Most people live in apartments with sometimes hundreds of families living in the same block of flats. The cable companies can just connect the whole building to a hub and draw the cables inside the house. In the
              • Very True (Score:3, Interesting)

                by tkrotchko (124118) *
                I live in a rural area about 20 miles away from a major US city. When Verizon hooked up fiber to my house about 18 months ago, it took a crew of 6 men all day to go from the pole at the road to get the fiber to my house. They had 4 pieces of heavy equipment.

                And they had to spend that much time at the 9 houses on the same road as me. So 6 men spending 9 days gets 9 families connected to fiber.

                By the way, "analysts" are now criticizing Verizon for spending so much time and money to get that last mile hooke
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by vought (160908)
              if we used the fastest TVGs and ICEs they have in the EU - it would still take about 7 hours to take a train from Seattle (where I live) to San Francisco - the nearest big city (assuming 300 KPH and slowing down for the occasional towns/crossings).

              As Pretzeldent Bush would say..."You forgot Portland!"
            • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Informative)

              by Atmchicago (555403) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @10:04PM (#18523787) Homepage

              I was a little surprised about your 7 hour time quote from Seattle to San Francisco, so I did some fact checking:

              Google maps says that the distance between the two cities is 808 miles, or 12 hours 40 mins by car. Google converts those 808 miles into kilometers: 808 miles = 1 300.34995 kilometers.

              The time it takes to travel 1300 kilometers at 300km/hour: 4.33 hours. So you were off by a substantial amount of time - 2 hours and 20 minutes or so.

              High speed trains will become more popular when gas prices go up. That will affect both car travel and airplane travel. Gas prices are already high in Europe for car travel, and trains are a lot more comfortable that planes, so that's probably why they are more popular there. Particularly when you take into account all the security checkpoints they force you through at airports these days, it's a royal pain to fly.

              • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Informative)

                by c_forq (924234) <forquerc+slash@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:18PM (#18524287)
                Remember the slowing down for towns and such, there are several towns and areas where the train would most likely have to go to 1/4th of its top speed. Add in the time to to accelerate after each slow down and you have a pretty significant amount of time.
                • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Informative)

                  by feyhunde (700477) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:04AM (#18524883)
                  It's worse than that...

                  I've ridden ICE some rather nice distances. Except for construction work, it was straight. I've also ridden Amtrak around the Pacific NW between Spokane/Seattle, Spokane/Portland and Seattle/Eugene. This is 137,858 square miles for Germany, 98,466 for Oregon, and 71,342 for Washington. These two states are larger than Germany, with just over 9 million in the space of 82 million.

                  Spokane to Portland or Seattle takes about 8 hours. This is using a heavy sleeper liner that travels between Chicago and Seattle, taking approximately 46 hours. It is also available once a day, leaving at 2 in the morning from Spokane.

                  The Eugene-Seattle line is a newly built train from Taiwan based off the type used in Europe for regional lines. The train is available about 6 times a day, takes 5 hours to do Eugene-Seattle, partly due to layover. It's actually a really nice train and has a good bistro car along with it's own built in movie service. It's also slower than driving.

                  Much of the reason why they are slow is the US hasn't built new rail lines in a very long time. Most of these lines are just improved versions of the ones first laid down after the Civil War. And some of these lines skip major towns in semi-rural areas because their spurs don't have enough traffic. Southern Oregon lacks Amtrak service because of this. The line East of the Cascades was kept up, but the line going parallel to I5 (the major West Coast freeway) can't carry modern trains.

                  Most of these lines have to slow down every 5 to 10 minutes as they cross highways and city streets. Compare this to European dedicated lines that have their own right of way and don't need to slow down except for stations...

                  Now consider the coast of refurbishing the entire rail network in the US to have its own right of way. Billions upon billions. There's talk of going maglev in some small sections of the country along populated stretches. One plan to connect LA and Las Vegas has already spent billions for about 1 mile of track.

                  And one related note. The reason US telecom lags is because 15 years ago we were the best in the world. Billions upon billions were spent by the DoD to build a hardened land line network that can survive a nuclear war. Mandates extended this out to nearly every hamlet. It gave the US spare capacity for a number of years. While Europe and Asia didn't have this large infrastructure and skipped to new generation wireless.
            • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Trifthen (40989) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:00AM (#18524865) Homepage
              So? Forget the US in general, then. I'd like to see a study on dense populated areas alone so we can finally put this tired argument to rest. Why not compare the biggest and densest areas of the US to entire countries in the EU? I'm almost certain we'd still lose. Why not pit Chicago, or New York, or San Francisco against Sweeden, or Norway, or Japan? We'd get obliterated. South Korea, a war torn wasteland in the not too distant past, is handing us our asses. Is there even one city in the US that cracks the top ten? Just one?

              Forget the damn rural areas already. It's a nice excuse, but our infrastructure is still slapdash, crawling with shoddy and inconsistent speeds, and woefully behind, even in the largest metropolitan areas.
          • This always comes up (Score:5, Informative)

            by Rob Simpson (533360) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @02:08AM (#18525183)
            And someone always argues along these lines. Yet Canada has a larger percentage of rural population [innovationstrategy.gc.ca], similar geography, and has a higher percentage of broadband use [websiteoptimization.com].
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mixxu (1076713)

        all of the countries that are listed above the US are much smaller than the US, with higher population densities
        Untrue. According to wikipedia:
        usa Density 31 /sq km (172nd) 80 /sq mi
        finland Density 16 /sq km (190th) 40 /sq mi
        sweden Density 20 /sq km (185th) 52 /sq mi
      • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by paeanblack (191171) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @07:43PM (#18522541)
        Population density doesn't matter. The Gini coefficient of the population distribution does.

        Consider US vs Canada http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/images/content /94116main_usa_nightm.jpg [nasa.gov]

        Canada has a much lower population density, but it's far cheaper to lay fiber to 95% of the Canadian population than to 95% of the American population, because the average distance between two random Canadians is far less the average distance between two Americans.

        Countries like the US/Britain/France/Germany, which are more evenly populated will simply require much more fiber/area for a given broadband penetration than countries like Canada/Australia/Brazil, which have huge clumps of people and vast areas of sparse population.
      • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @12:02AM (#18524577) Homepage Journal
        I'm always hearing this "but the population is too sparse" excuse about why the US is falling behind so badly in broadband deployment. Well, that's all it is - an excuse. And it tells a lot about how the US has changed in the last 100 years.

        You didn't hear these kind of excuses when the telegraph was the big communications network - it went to every town. And you didn't hear it when rail travel became prevalent - those tracks went everywhere, and if a mountain needed blasting to make way, the mountain got blasted. You can claim the Chinese worked like slaves to lay track - which may be true, but there is no shortage of cheap foreign labor in the US today - and they could be laying fiber (in fact, a lot of them are - just not enough).

        The problem, as usual, is the self-serving traitorous bastards running Washington (the White House *and* congress - especially congress). When WW I started up, the US needed planes. Did they let the Wright Brothers push them around because they had some patent? No. They were like "look, guys, we need planes for the war, and you can't make them fast enough, so were throwing out your patent."

        What happens now when we need equipment for the war? The multinational corporation making hummers whines "but we've got a contract - we make hummers and that's what we're gonna make." So what happens? We buy hummers that get our soldiers killed instead of the anti-road-bomb armored equipment we really need. (check this [go.com] out). What's that about? Some greedy frackin senators with their palms greased, that's what!

        No more excuses. Build the infrastructure we need, make the equipment we need, and quick dicking around with the greedy corporations.

        • Re:Telecomm (Score:4, Funny)

          by arivanov (12034) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @02:28AM (#18525295) Homepage
          I wish I had some moderation points to mod you funny. As I do not, I will comment.

          The problem with the US (and to a lesser extent other countries) government supply chain is the fear of the unfamiliar. The rule of the game is that if you supply something familiar which brings out that warm cosy feeling in the congresscritter you succeed. The Humvee is nothing, but a life sizes copy of a badly designed glorified monstertruck toy which American kids have imprinted in their psyche over the first 10 years of their life. It brings out warm fuzzy feeling in the congresscritter and he is reluctant to approve an unfamiliar weird looking design for mass purchase. The same is happening in the UK which keeps buying Landrovers instead of proper vehicles, despite the govt being lambasted into bits by the press. After all the Landy is something which in the UK (if you are past that certain age) you are supposed to love and cherish regardless of how badly does it suck. Russia is no different with Sukhoi scraping money off other projects to work on the Berkut just because it looks weird and keeps not getting the funding it deserves.

          The situation is similar in large corporations. Presenting something new and revolutionary to the board is usually a career death. In fact there is a whole niche for highly payed professionals in the R&D of large corps that specialises in presenting the unfamiliar in a familiar way.

          And here is where IMO the crucial difference between the US (and UK for that matter) and Scandinavian countries is. The scandinavian countries are currently benefiting from breaking the familiarity circle in their corporation boards and government. By either threatening to put or putting in place mandatory equality legislation and quotas on women in corporate boards and elected assemblies they created a temporary condition where you can present something less familiar to the board (or the parliamentcritters) and survive. This advantage is temporary and will decrease over time. It will never fade fully as do we like it or not we are not create equal and women like different things from men. But it will not be anywhere near what it is now in 10 years time.

          So coming back to your rant - if you want that changed you should vote Clinton.

          Cheers,
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Red Flayer (890720)

            The Humvee is nothing, but a life sizes copy of a badly designed glorified monstertruck toy which American kids have imprinted in their psyche over the first 10 years of their life.

            Maybe you should research a bit. The HMMWV is a useful vehicle, it's just being used for the wrong purpose. When designed, it was not meant to carry troops in forward areas under fire; the US has APCs for that.

            Unfortunately APCs are very expensive, so some of the brass decided to convert Humvees into crappy APCs. Which leaves

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rucs_hack (784150)
      Not wanting to be nasty or anything, but America is going through a bit of a religious experience at the moment, with people rejecting science by the million.

      That cannot happen and the US retain their technological advantage.

      Point of interest, America was having similer problems pre Sputnik, and when it flew overhead Congress ordered that Science be given a priority in the classroom, and that evolution be taught everywhere. The result? America's rise to technological dominance in the information age.

      Now its
      • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by paitre (32242) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:17PM (#18521437) Journal
        Fairly easy to answer -

        The Chinese or Indians (or both in concert) landing a man on the moon.
        I fully suspect that is what it's going to take.
        • Re:Telecomm (Score:4, Interesting)

          by rucs_hack (784150) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:21PM (#18521487)
          I would love it if the Chinese did that. I was a kid when man walked on the moon last. We had a TV in my classroom when Armstrong and went for their first walk.

          I thought the moon was a place in the outback where people hadn't been before (I was only four).

      • Re:Telecomm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by btellier (126120) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [reilletb]> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:32PM (#18521681)
        Not wanting to be nasty or anything, but America is going through a bit of a religious experience at the moment, with people rejecting science by the million.

        Really? Got any facts to back that up?

        According to the American Religious Identification Survey [cuny.edu] "The proportion of the [American] population that can be classified as Christian has declined from 86% in 1990 to 77% in 2001" and the number of people who believe in no religion AT ALL doubled from 1990 to 2001.

        Sorry, homeboy. You're wrong.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rucs_hack (784150)
          That has nothing to do with it, nothing at all.

          You are currently exporting extreme religions (yup, that's what a lot of uk people think of the Johovahs witnesses that come calling, nut jobs to be avoided at all costs), and working in other countries to prop up creationism. Also there's the funding going to the search for the Ark, and the money being sent to Israel to fund the end time preparation...

          Also lots of colleges and universities in the US are having to spend time just convincing religious students t
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by putaro (235078)
            We're trying to. That's the whole point of exporting those nutjobs. Toxic waste to China, Jehovah's Witnesses to the UK.
        • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @10:20PM (#18523907) Journal
          They're rejection Christianity and Science!

          The country is *literally* going to hell in a hand basket!

          I always knew we were going to hell, but I was hoping for a ferrari, or maybe a hover craft. But a hand basket, I never say that coming.
        • by Mariner28 (814350) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @11:49PM (#18524513)
          If you're from New York, I can understand how you can somehow ignore the rise of the Christian Right in American politics ever since the Reagan era. You need to get out and see the "Heartland" of the country. Try Dallas, or Oklahoma City, or Baton Rouge, or Jackson. How about that Crystal Cathedral in California?

          We now have a President who is "Born Again", and recognizes Christ as his personal saviour. His old Attorney General, John Ashcroft, a devout Assemblies of God member, used to anoint himself with oil. We have many members of Congress, both in the Senate and the House, who are ordained ministers in their churches. Some are LDS Bishops. I would venture to say that the percentage of devout Christians holding office in various levels of government in the US exceeds that of the general population. Which oath do they hold to? Their duty to country, or to a church?

          You've got people who firmly believe that the US Constitution states that the USA is a Christian nation. I've got in-laws who used to believe that I was damned to Hell because I was raised Catholic and not a member of the Church of Christ.

          We have a member of the Texas House who firmly believes that the Earth is the center of the Universe, and that we never landed a man on the moon, and that satellites are held in orbit by magnetism, not gravity - because Newton's Laws are wrong and he can prove it. http://www.fixedearth.com/geosynchronous_sa.htm [fixedearth.com] (I had to post that link because it's a hoot. His proof is that a LaGrange point is where gravity stops because it's where it balances out. Give the man a Nobel!)

          We had an Army General (2 star?) who fervently believed we would win in Iraq because his God is greater than their God, Allah. Someone forgot to tell him they're one and the same. Jehovah, too.

          These are the people who've been running this nation for the last dozen years or so. Their's are the people who backed a "Crusade" in the Middle East, thinking we'd set them "free".

          Oh. And that CUNY study? Does it take into account that many black Southern Baptists are becoming Muslims? And the biggest immigrant groups in the US today are Hispanic Catholics (and Protestants) and Muslims from the Middle East and SE Asia?

          Just because the percentage of people identifying themselves as Christians has gone down (how accurate is that study) does not mean that the number of people who identify themselves as religious has gone down. Or that the percentage who identify themselves as Born Again has gone down.

          I don't need to cite references. All you need to do is get out of your ivory tower (sorry, that actually sounds religious!) and look around. Wake up. You're missing an entire country out there!

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by khallow (566160)

            If you're from New York, I can understand how you can somehow ignore the rise of the Christian Right in American politics ever since the Reagan era. You need to get out and see the "Heartland" of the country. Try Dallas, or Oklahoma City, or Baton Rouge, or Jackson. How about that Crystal Cathedral in California?

            The Christian Right is influential, but the presence of religious regions in the US isn't a new phenomenon. It's been around since the begining of the country's existence. And all those regions

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The issue isn't about America finding religion as it is about the folks with the loudest voice (deepest pockets) in the government decision making process has not been interested in technology.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SeaFox (739806)

      As soon as the FCC stops sucking up to the big telecom corps and opens up the spectrum, the game is on again.

      So in other words... never?
    • The nordic countries all have long, cold winters. Most people spend this time in front of their PC playing games and surfing porn. This creates huge bandwidth demands and drives innovation. There is also much of the competitive spirit in these young lads, and the challenge of having the most porn spurs them ever onwards. Of course, to avoid getting in trouble off their parents, they spend a bit of time here and there inventing new CPU designs, producing innovative mobile phones and other high-brow stuff, bu
  • by rez_rat (1618) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:52PM (#18521081)
    I for one... aaaaahhhhh, nevermind.
  • well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by zeromusmog (260817) <zeromusmog&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:53PM (#18521093) Homepage
    I'm sure the RIAA and/or MPAA and/or Microsoft are to blame for this somehow.
    • Re:well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dan Slotman (974474) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:56PM (#18521145)
      Actually, according to the article, "A deterioration of the political and regulatory environment in the US prompted the fall." However, "Despite losing its top position, the US still maintained a strong focus on innovation, driven by one of the world's best tertiary education systems and its high degree of co-operation with industry."

      Don't mod me informative; it is just copy-and-paste magic for people as lazy as the parent poster.
  • by vivaoporto (1064484) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:53PM (#18521097)
    Since the eighties, when Japan began to take over U.S. role on technology, and U.S. started to focus more on services, this was something predictable. Sometimes people forget that there is no way to be prosper doing each others laundry [typepad.com]
    • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:03PM (#18521239) Homepage Journal
      Interesting that the link seems to claim exactly the opposite that you're stating- so which is it? Are we growing jobs in a variety of sectors, roughly half above and half below the average wage? Or if we lose our technology lead, will we end up doing each other's laundry (only having service jobs paying far below $15/hr)? Me, I'm in the second camp with what you're apparently saying in this message, but the link throws me off on what you are saying.
    • Since the eighties, when Japan began to take over U.S. role on technology, and U.S. started to focus more on services, this was something predictable. Sometimes people forget that there is no way to be prosper doing each others laundry
      Your idea of "services" is skewed. Chip design for example is both technology and a service, as is contracted programming. With modern mass production, the value of goods is in their design, not the acutal labor involved in making them.
    • Sometimes people forget that there is no way to be prosper doing each others laundry

      It all comes down to quality, and at Fjord, quality is job 1.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:55PM (#18521123) Homepage Journal
    When a society decides that corporations are priviledged citizens, corporations decide that profit [fastcompany.com] and Tax Evasion [wikipedia.org] matter more than Education [ocpp.org], how can the country NOT fall behind in technology?
    • When a society decides that corporations are priviledged citizens, corporations decide that profit and Tax Evasion matter more than Education, how can the country NOT fall behind in technology?
      If that were the case we would have fallen behind decades ago.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        A fall takes time- the tax revolts didn't start until the late 1980s. 20 years is just about right.
      • by paitre (32242) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:22PM (#18521525) Journal
        It takes decades for the mistakes and policy changes made 20 and 25 years ago to really start to show, particularly when we're discussing education - you have to essentially flush the system.

        So, no - it's only been in the last 15-20 years that we've -really- seen a lot of corporate abuse of their position (not that it didn't happen earlier, but it didn't necessarily happen at the same scale), and the predictable, to some, results. /shrug.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RexRhino (769423)
      Funny, how when the American economy becomes progressively more regulated, the corporations become more and more privledged citizens... compared to the (relatively) laissez faire days of U.S. technological dominance.

      The thing that the anti-corporate crowd doesn't seem to understand is that most legislation presented as "protecting us from corporations" is designed to HELP corporations. For example, what effect does FDA regulations, that drive drug testing cost up into the billions, have on the drug market?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:56PM (#18521143)
    At least we know how to make missiles and $1 million terrorism response vans in the USA. Thank God for our advanced technology.
  • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:57PM (#18521161) Homepage
    I see lots of these "Top 10" type lists, and I always chuckle: The list makers apply whatever criteria they think makes for a good society, then think up a clever name for what those criteria might represent.

    One small think they left off -- marginal tax rates. High rates like Sweden positively drive innovators away.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TopSpin (753) *
      Seems like a pastime for TROTW; carefully craft a set of criteria tailored to accentuate some Asian or European nation's characteristics and then measure the US against it. A Geneva-based foundation attended primarily by European intellectuals, European media, the Leaders and representatives of European nations and assorted activists organizations conclude the US is now technologically inferior to selected EU nations.

      Yawn.

      Whatever happened to the notion that technological prowess was somehow a poor measure
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by asninn (1071320)
        Y'know, if US-Americans are so quick to dismiss anything that might not portray them in the BEST possible light as underhanded attacks against them (everyone knows Europe is a cesspool of anti-Americanism, right?), then I'm not surprised you really are falling behind.

        Seriously, you can't improve if you don't acknowledge that there's a problem, so wake up and smell the roses! Contrary to what people like you might think, you're not automatically the first, best and greatest in everything simply by virtue of
  • The reason why is that we are quickly sending our manufacturing elsewhere. As long as America continues to do that, it will make it much more difficult to do small scale start-ups. As it is, I have been trying something none-technical, and am finding that lack of manufacturing capability is making this difficult. Interestingly, I hear from all potential sales that I should send the manufacturing to china, but never to another country. Sad state of affairs. It is good that EU and Japan have figured it out th
    • These days it is easier to find a Chinese phone (designed and manufactured in China) and just send them the artwork for the logo, packaging etc. You then end up with a container load of product to sell. No engineering risk, no pesky engineers to feed and mess up the place. All you need is a marketing department to do the branding. Sure, the process is not wrinkle free yet, but the Chinese custom manufacturers are getting far more sophisticated in what they can do and what services they can offer. Give them
  • Agreed. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by burning-toast (925667) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:00PM (#18521203)
    If anybody doubts that we have lost our edge in the technology arena let me ask you one question:

    Name one complete sub-assembly inside of your computer which had the majority of the R&D and Fabrication done in the USA.

    Of that sub-assembly (assuming you have named one), which components are utilizing NEW technology developed here in the USA.

    I would like to know why the USA (given a dedicated effort) could not take back the crown of technology power house without doing so by stifling our competition over seas.

    There has to be enough room in the future technology development for us to foster and train our citizens to come up with new concepts which will not rely on foreign brains, labor, or money to develop, market, and sell.
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) * <lajollahomeless@hotmail.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:02PM (#18521231) Homepage Journal

    A deterioration of the political and regulatory environment in the US prompted the fall
    Our leaders aren't allowing American scientists to innovate. If it doesn't fit into a corporate ledger, or if the return on a research investment can't be forecast in terms of dollars, then the venture capitalists have little or no interest in it. Scientists, increasingly, are finding themselves denied staffing and funding requests because they're not salesmen. Especially over the last ten years I've seen a trend where MBAs, accountants, marketers, and salesmen are bidding for the highest salaries while the scientists and innovators are seen almost as a necessary evil for doing business.

    Until the US fixes its priorities we're going to continue to fall. Perhaps the US can keep buying talent from other nations, with H1-B visas, but unless the scientists are given fruitful environments they simply aren't going to come up with anything new or revolutionary. What encouragement do the nation's thinkers have to keep improving their ideas when the laurels and rewards are going only to the people who manage them like a column of assets? It's plain demoralizing to continually refine a product for a year only to see executive support lost and funding slashed. Graduate students and post-docs, while they provide a significant source of intellectual labor, cannot compete with happy and eager experienced scientists in other parts of the world.

    Extreme levels of government regulation, oversight, interaction, and micromanaging are probably a significant contributor to the death of American technological innovation as well.
  • Metric critique #1 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Glowing Fish (155236) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:03PM (#18521235) Homepage
    The first thing I would critique about this (amongst many others) is that it is a ranked list. At least in the BBC summary, it doesn't describe the objective rankings of the countries.

    For example, if it was on a 100 point scale, the US could have slipped from, say, 99.9 to 99.8, and that would have been enough to slip from first to seventh. Or maybe the objective score would have been a much larger slide. Maybe the US objectively climbed, but just not at the same rate as the other countries. Being that all ten of the top countries have the same mature technological apparatus, I am imagining that whatever shuffling took place in the ratings was rather minor. The actual differences between technology adaption between the US and Iceland might be almost indistinguishable.
  • by MarkWatson (189759) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:03PM (#18521245) Homepage
    My wife has been mentioning this for years: it seems like the 'owners' have been cutting back on educational funding, industrial infrastructure, etc.

    I am starting to agree with my wife, given evidence like: Bush family buying massive amounts of land in South America, Dick Cheney primarily investing his own money overseas, etc.

    I believe that people with real power in the USA are "cutting loose" the middle class and lower class. I write about this in my blog a lot: the best thing to do is to invest heavily in yourself: education, personal learning, pay off debt, invest, and save.
  • While the US sticks it's head in the sand and waits for WiMax to become a reality, I'm sure Nordic countries all have fat pipes going into every home. Not that bandwidth is the cause of technology advancements, but imagine if the cost of broadband in the U.S. was cut 3/4 with government subsidies. For that matter, free to all students in public schools, etc.

    I think if the US wants its competitive edge back it needs to buy the dark fiber and make sure it's super cheap if not free.

    • Re:broadband (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @07:44PM (#18522557)
      Dark fiber isn't useful for pushing out broadband. The dark fiber is just extra fiber that was run alongside lit fiber (because the incremental cost is very low) when they were installing the backbones. If the backbone owners find that they need more bandwidth, they'll use that dark fiber. There's no lack of bandwidth on the backbones; it's with the "last mile" connections to homes and businesses, which requires some type of new infrastructure to be installed.
  • Whatever... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ivan256 (17499) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:06PM (#18521303)
    Isn't it a global marketplace now? Who cares what 'your country' is doing. Just be the best you can be in your field and you'll be fine. Life will go on even if you can't wave a big flag saying your country is better than somebody else's. Be proud of what *you* can do.
  • by nermaljcat (895576) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:22PM (#18521507)

    Like software, Education and Immigration should be free and open. Providing innovation a fertile breeding ground.

    I think that the cost of Education in the US has a big impact on this too. Sadly, a college degree has become a status symbol in the US for "upper class" citizens. A lot of people can't afford a student loan that is sometimes more than their mortgage!

    A lot of European countries offer good incentives for people to study, including paying a state allowance for university students.

    I'm not up to date on European immigration policy, but I'm sure it would be much more relaxed than the US when it comes to skilled labor. I couldn't imagine it being any more tighter.

    Well, that's my 2 cents worth anyways...

  • US Universities (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PAKnightPA (955602) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @08:03PM (#18522755)
    One thing i think that has been overlooked in this discussion is the number of amazing institutions. If you compare the number of elite research institutions in the United States to anywhere else the US does extremely well. While this is certainly only one factor in a nations "technology ranking" the amount of research these universities generate and the highly educated people they churn out is undeniable a huge positive force for the US.
  • by horati0 (249977) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @08:35PM (#18523045) Journal
    ...as long as it remains Plow King.
  • Yea, all the whiney stuff about losing our tech edge... really man, get over it. How about something that really counts, like high scores on Grand Theft Auto? We rule dude. When it comes to whacking cops and hos and stealin stuff, we are like so totally NUMBER ONE! We are the numero uno video game nation! The USA is also top of the heap in pizza, and drinks with cool names like "cocaine", and shopping malls. And stuff like SUVs and MP3 players. You Euro-smack talkers ever look and see where your iPod comes from? Silicone valley usa, dude. And where do you think Star Wars came from? France? Sheesh. They're not even allowed to use cameras anymore. Where else can you see American Idle or a Billy Ray Cirrhosis show? Huh? Not London hon. No way. Cause we are just too bitchin.
    • I think this on should be marked 'Informative' -- it illustrates the American Way. As an American, I completely understand this. What's bad, is where assholes take this kind of attitude. With guns.
  • I Call BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Luscious868 (679143) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @09:16AM (#18527143)

    From the article:

    A deterioration of the political and regulatory environment in the US prompted the fall, the report said.

    That comment says it all right there. This has nothing to do with technology innovation and everything to do with the members of the World Economic Forum and their collective opinion of the current US administration.

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