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Robust intellectual property rights provide the incentives necessary to drive innovation by allowing markets to form for tangible and intangible assets. Without them, incentives get distorted and innovation slows. Rob and Jackie sat down with Jonathan Barnett, director of the Media, Entertainment and Technology Law Program at USC’s Gould School of Law, to discuss the recent history, current political dynamics, and economic stakes associated with patent protections.Mentioned:Jonathan Barnett, “The Great Patent Grab” (August 20, 2021). In The Battle over Patents: History and Politics of Innovation (eds. Stephen H. Haber and Naomi R. Lamoreaux, Oxford University Press 2021), USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS21-48, USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 21-48.Robert D. Atkinson and Michael Lind, Big Is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business (The MIT Press, 2019).Stephen Ezell, “TRIPS Waiver on COVID-19 IP Rights Wouldn’t Help Vaccine Access; It Would Just Harm Innovation,” ITIF Innovation Files, March 19, 2021.Stephen Ezell, “The Bayh-Dole Act’s Vital Importance to the U.S. Life-Sciences Innovation System” (ITIF, March 2019). 
Innovation in life sciences is crucial for many key industries in the United States and across the globe. It supports advances in human biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, health care policy, and beyond. Such advances would not always have been possible without the Bayh-Dole Act. Rob and Jackie sat down with Joe Allen, who served as a professional staffer on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to former Senator Birch Bayh, to discuss the importance of the Bayh-Dole Act and the future of life sciences innovation. RelatedStephen Ezell, “The Bayh-Dole Act’s Vital Importance to the U.S. Life-Sciences Innovation System” (ITIF, March 2019). “Preserving Bayh-Dole—the “Inspired” Law That Underpins U.S. Leadership in Life-Sciences Innovation” (ITIF Event, March 2019).Stephen Ezell, “How Japan Squandered Its Biopharmaceutical Competitiveness: A Cautionary Tale” (ITIF, July 2022).
Quantum technologies, especially quantum computing, hold great promise in revolutionizing everyday systems. Quantum computing can be applied to health care, artificial intelligence, national security, and beyond. Rob and Jackie sat down with Edward Parker, a physical scientist at the RAND Corporation, to discuss the implications of quantum computing and how the United States can remain the global leader in this technology.Mentioned:Edward Parker, et al., “An Assessment of the U.S. and Chinese Industrial Bases in Quantum Technology” (RAND Corporation, February 2022). Hodan Omaar, “Why the United States Needs to Support Near-Term Quantum Computing Applications” (Center for Data Innovation, April 2021). Related:Ashley Johnson, “NIST Takes First Big Step in Preparing for Post-Quantum Cryptography” (ITIF, July 2022). “How Will Quantum Computing Shape the Future of AI?” (Center for Data Innovation Event, October 2020). “ITIF Technology Explainer: What Is Quantum Computing?” (ITIF, September 2018).
 The world is facing a climate crisis. But venture-backed clean energy technologies can help avert the worst outcome. Rob and Jackie sat down with Peter Fox-Penner, senior fellow and founding director of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and chief impact officer of Energy Impact Partners, to discuss the promise of climate-tech innovation in the U.S. electrical system and venture capital’s role in slowing climate change. RelatedHoyu Chong, “Mission Critical: The Global Energy Innovation System Is Not Thriving” (ITIF, January 2022). “How 5G Can Spur Climate Tech Innovation” (ITIF Event, June 2022).Linh Nguyen, “Refreshing the Global Agenda for Climate Innovation” (ITIF, May 2021).
Data is one of the most essential and valuable assets in the world. It impacts everything from the ads we see and the products we buy to national security. Rob and Jackie sat down with David Deming, the Academic Dean and a Professor of Political Economy at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, to discuss the importance of data, data sharing, and ways to protect individual data privacy.MentionedDavid Deming, “Balancing Privacy With Data Sharing for the Public Good,” The New York Times, February 2021.David Moschella, “The Power of Big Tech Peaked During the Pandemic; Disruptive Forces Are on the Rise” (ITIF, June 2022).Gillian Diebold and Chelsea Han, “How AI Can Improve K-12 Education in the United States” (Center for Data Innovation, April 2022).RelatedAshley Johnson, “Three Bills Show Remaining Divisions in Attempt to Reach a Compromise on Federal Data Privacy Legislation” (ITIF, June 2022).Daniel Castro, “Review of the Proposed “American Data Privacy and Protection Act: Part One and Part Two” (ITIF, June 2022).David Moschella, “Your Data Isn’t Gold; It’s Not Even Yours” (ITIF, April 2022).
The United States used to be a leader in semiconductor production, but its share of global output dropped from 37 percent in 1990 to just 12 percent in 2019. That helps explain why the country now faces serious supply issues. Rob and Jackie sat down with John Zysman, a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley and co-founder/co-director of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, to discuss why U.S. semiconductor production is down, what it portends, and how America can regain its footing in the industry. Mentioned:Stephen S. Cohen and John Zysman, Manufacturing Matters: The Myth of the Post-Industrial Economy, (Basic Books, 1987).Related:Rob Atkinson, “Potato Chips, Computer Chips: Yes, There Is a Difference” (ITIF, December 2020).Rob Atkinson, “Computer Chips vs. Potato Chips: The Case for a U.S. Strategic-Industry Policy” (ITIF, January 2022). Stephen Ezell, “Incentives Essential to Ensuring America Possesses a Leading Semiconductor Industry” (ITIF, February 2022).
China is taking an authoritarian approach in its quest to be a dominant power in technology and global affairs. Silicon Valley innovator and former Under Secretary of State Keith Krach has a unique perspective on both aspects. Rob and Jackie sat down with him to discuss how China is impacting global market competition and what it means for U.S. competition policy. MentionedKeith Krach, “Present your China contingency plan at the next board meeting,” Fortune Magazine, April 2022.RelatedRobert D. Atkinson, “China’s ‘State Capitalism’ Is Not Capitalism” (ITIF, August 2021).Robert D. Atkinson, “A Remarkable Resemblance: Germany From 1900 to 1945 and China Today,” International Economy, January 20, 2021.Robert D. Atkinson, “Who Lost China?” (ITIF, July 2018).
The United States has been a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) since the 1950s. But AI and other advanced industry leadership in the United States has been threatened by increased competition with China. Rob and Jackie sat down with Arthur Herman, a senior fellow and director of the Quantum Alliance Initiative at The Hudson Institute, to discuss how AI leadership in the United States has eroded and what policymakers can do to save it for the future. Mentioned:Arthur Herman, Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, (Random House Trade, November 2013).Arthur Herman, The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World, (Mariner Books, 2021).Related:Rob Atkinson, “Don’t Fear AI” (European Investment Bank, June 2018).Hodan Omaar, “Creating an AI Bill of Rights Is a Distraction,” Financial Times, October 2021.Daniel Castro and Michal McLaughlin, “Who Is Winning the AI Race: China, the EU, or the United States? — 2021 Update” (ITIF, January 2021).
One of the benefits of electric vehicles is they cost less to maintain. But that also means there’s less profit to be had in servicing their warranties, which gives car dealers less incentive to sell them. That’s why EV makers like Tesla and Rivian depend on direct-to-consumer sales and distribution. Unfortunately, there are decades-old dealer-distribution laws standing in the way. Rob and Jackie sat down with Daniel Crane, the Frederick Paul Firth Senior Professor of Law at University of Michigan, to discuss how these laws harm consumers and undermine technological innovation. RelatedDavid Hart, “Why a Measured Transition to Electric Vehicles Would Benefit the U.S.” (ITIF, November 2019).Dorothy Robyn, “Driving Change: A Front-Loaded, Aggressive Strategy for Federal Procurement of Electric Vehicles” (ITIF, December 2020).David Hart, “Time for a Serious U.S. Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Strategy” (ITIF, November 2020).
Venture capitalists know what it feels like when a company is firing on all cylinders. But it’s been a while since the whole country had that feeling of dynamism—so why not focus on companies that help the cause by supporting the national interest, solving critical problems, and doing fundamentally new things? Rob and Jackie sat down with Ben Horowitz and Katherine Boyle of the leading VC firm Andreessen Horowitz to talk about investing in American dynamism.MentionedBen Horowitz, The Hard Things About Hard Things (Harper Business, 2014). Ben Horowitz, What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture (Harper Business, 2019). Rob Atkinson, The Past and Future of America’s Economy: Long Waves of Innovation that Drive Cycles of Growth (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2005). Related“Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy,” ITIF event, January 2014.Luke Dascoli, “AI Start-Ups Attracted Over 21 Percent of The World’s Venture Capital in 2020” (ITIF, January 2022).John Wu, “A Small Business Innovation Research Grant Doubles an Energy-Technology Company's Chances of Later Receiving Venture Capital” (ITIF, May 2017).
Technology is rapidly developing across many sectors—and that is especially true with wireless technologies. 5G phones give consumers better, stronger, faster service and more capacity to download. But 5G goes beyond phones, it provides great innovative capacity for businesses. Rob and Jackie sat down with Susie Armstrong, senior vice president for engineering at QUALCOMM, to discuss what makes 5G unique and how it impacts smart factories, healthcare, and more. RelatedDoug Brake, “ITIF Technology Explainer: What Is 5G?“ (ITIF, September 2018). “A National Strategy for 5G, With Doug Brake,“ ITIF Innovation Files podcast, July 2020. Doug Brake, “A U.S. National Strategy for 5G and Future Wireless Innovation” (ITIF, April 2020).
Trade tensions between the United States and the EU have increased over the past few years. Decreasing those transatlantic tensions while promoting fair competition will be especially important with the challenge of a rising China. That is a key goal of the new U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC). Rob and Jackie sat down with Denis Redonnet, the EU’s chief trade enforcement officer, to discuss the opportunities and challenges for the TTC and the broader implications for trade policies in the United States, the EU, and in the World Trade Organization. Mentioned:Rob Atkinson, “Advancing U.S. Goals in the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council” (ITIF, September 2021).Related:Nigel Cory, “How the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council Can Navigate Conflict and Find Meaningful Cooperation on Data Governance and Technology Platforms” (ITIF, December 2021).Nigel Cory and Wendy Cutter, “Time for an Upgrade: Moving WTO Negotiations Into the Digital World” (ITIF, May 2020). “China vs. The WTO: Two Decades of Dissembling and Dysfunction,” ITIF Event, December 2021.
China’s rapid technological development has put tremendous pressure on the United States to remain competitive in strategically important industries. Rob and Jackie sat down with Matt Turpin to discuss what the United States has done so far to face the China challenge and what future policies should look like. Turpin is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and has served as the National Security Council’s director for China and as the senior advisor on China to the Secretary of Commerce.Mentioned:James Fallows, “China’s Great Leap Backward,” The Atlantic, December 2016.Rob Atkinson, “Weaving Strategic-Industry Competitiveness Into the Fabric of U.S. Economic Policy” (ITIF, February 2022).Related:David Moschella and Rob Atkinson, “Competing With China: A Strategic Framework” (ITIF, August 2020).Rob Atkinson, “The Case for Legislation to Out-Compete China” (ITIF, March 2021). “How China’s Role in Technology Development Affects the United States and the World, With Sam Olsen,” ITIF Innovation Files podcast, February 2022.
China views technology and the tech companies that produce it as strategic assets to be leveraged in a global race for geopolitical advantage. That’s why it doesn’t treat its domestic champions as players in a free market—the point is to make sure they win at the expense of Western competitors. Rob and Jackie sat down with entrepreneur and strategist Sam Olsen, author of What China Wants, to discuss the implications of China’s technological development. Mentioned:Sam Olsen, What China Wants, (Substack, 2022). Stefan Link, Forging Global Fordism: Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and the Contest over the Industrial Order, (Princeton University Press, 2020). Related:Rob Atkinson, “China’s ‘State Capitalism’ Is Not Capitalism” (ITIF, August 2021).Rob Atkinson, “The Case for Legislation to Out-Compete China” (ITIF, March 2021).Rob Atkinson, “The U.S. Needs to Copy China’s Tech Strategy to Remain the Top Economy in the World” (ITIF, November 2019).
Concerns about China’s rapid rise in recent decades have affected U.S. policies on technology, innovation, and industrial competitiveness. Rob and Jackie discussed the history of Chinese industrial policy and its implications for America and its allies with Barry Naughton, the So Kwanlok Chair of Chinese International Affairs at UC San Diego and author of The Rise of China’s Industrial Policy, 1978 to 2020. Mentioned:Barry Naughton, The Rise of China’s Industrial Policy, 1978 to 2020, (Academic Network of Latin America and the Caribbean on China, March 2021). Nigel Cory, “Heading Off Track: The Impact of China’s Mercantilist Policies on Global High-Speed Rail Innovation,” (ITIF, April 2021).Related:Rob Atkinson, “Time for a Coherent U.S. Strategy to Address Chinese Innovation Mercantilism” (ITIF, March 2020).Rob Atkinson, “What Is Chinese “Innovation Mercantilism” and How Should the UK and Allies Respond?” (ITIF, June 2021).“Chinese Innovation Mercantilism: An Essential Reading List of ITIF Policy Analysis and Commentary” (ITIF, June 2020-2021). 
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are among the most important technologies for Internet the today, enabling software-based systems to automate tasks and redraw the lines between organizations, suppliers, customers, and partners in ways not seen since the birth of the web. Rob and Jackie sat down with Rob Dickinson, co-founder and CEO of Resurface Labs, to discuss the future of APIs and the implications for public policy. MentionedAshley Johnson and Daniel Castro, “Improving Accessibility of Federal Government Websites,” (ITIF, June 2021). RelatedDaniel Castro and Michael Steinberg, “Blocked: Why Some Companies Restrict Data Access to Reduce Competition and How Open APIs Can Help” (ITIF, November 2017).Daniel Castro, “Improving Consumer Welfare With Data Portability” (ITIF, November 2021).“Accelerating the Digital Transformation of Healthcare, With Pat Combes” (ITIF Podcast, June 2020).
STEM-related fields are booming in the United States, but they often lack diversity. If the United States wants to remain a leader in these fields, policymakers must take steps to adequately fund state institutions to ensure that all students receive access to STEM programs. Rob and Jackie sat down with Dr. Juan Gilbert, chair of the University of Florida’s Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department, to discuss how the United States has fallen behind in recruiting students in science, technology, engineering, and math and what policymakers, universities, and industries can do diversify their candidate pools. Related:Kevin Gawora, “United States Needs to Expand Domestic STEM Doctorates” (ITIF, December 2020).Stephen Ezell, “Assessing the State of Digital Skills in the U.S. Economy” (ITIF, November 2021).“Innovation Fact of the Week: Students Are More Likely to Pursue STEM Degrees in College If They Are Exposed to More Science Subjects During High School” (ITIF, August 2016).
Global supply chains are cracking up. Even before the pandemic, a confluence of economic and geopolitical factors were accelerating the trend—from rising wages in China to nationalist sentiments sweeping the West, to the beginnings of a U.S.-China decoupling. Rob and Jackie sat down with Chris Caine, president of the Center for Global Enterprise, to break down the reasons for the massive disruption, discuss how different industry sectors are making different strategic calculations, and consider what the future might hold. Related:“Global Supply Chains Under Pressure, With Willy Shih,” ITIF Innovation Files podcast, May 2020.Stephen Ezell, “Digital Trade Growth, Rule-Making, and Supply Chain Resiliency: U.S. and Global Perspectives” (ITIF, October 2021).“Biden Officials Discuss White House Supply Chain Report,” ITIF event, June 2021.
The United States is the leader in life sciences innovation, but that has not always been the case. As global competition intensifies, it needs to continue spurring investment in R&D to stay on top. Rob and Jackie sat down with Stephen Ezell, vice president of global innovation policy at ITIF, to discuss the history of U.S. life sciences innovation and break down R&D costs versus the market prices of innovative biopharmaceuticals.MentionedAnusuya Chatterjee and Ross C. DeVol, “Estimating Long-Term Economic Returns of NIH Funding on Output in the Biosciences” (Milken Institute, 2012), 4.RelatedRob Atkinson and Stephen Ezell, “Five Fatal Flaws in Rep. Katie Porter’s Indictment of the U.S. Drug Industry” (ITIF, May 2021).Joe Kennedy, “The Link Between Drug Prices and Research on the Next Generation of Cures” (ITIF, September 2019).Event, “How Intellectual Property Has Played a Pivotal Role in the Global COVID-19 Response,” (ITIF, April 2021).
Silicon Valley obviously has a rich history of technological innovations that have transformed technology and the world as we know it. But with increased competition and stringent policies coming from Washington, its landscape has shifted. Rob and Jackie sat down with Avram Miller, co-founder of Intel Capital and author of The Flight of a Wild Duck to discuss how the decisions made by Intel and other tech giants have impacted Silicon Valley and how policymakers can better support the IT industry. MentionedAvram Miller, The Flight of a Wild Duck, (BOOKBABY, 2021).Andrew S. Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points, (Currency Doubleday, 1996).Mark Zachary Taylor, The Politics of Innovation: Why Some Countries Are Better Than Others at Science and Technology, (Oxford University Press, 2016).RelatedRob Atkinson and Jackie Whisman, “The Real History of Silicon Valley and the Lessons It Holds for Innovation Policy Today, With Margaret O’Mara” (ITIF, 2020).Rob Atkinson and Jackie Whisman, “The Rise, Fall, and Reinvention of IBM, With Jim Cortada” (ITIF, 2021).Rob Atkinson, “Be Grateful for ‘Big Tech’,” RealClearPolicy, June 6, 2018.
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