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Thread: Brief Study in Government Funded Innovation

  1. #1

    Brief Study in Government Funded Innovation

    From the beginnings of the computer industry, federal and military agencies promoted vital basic research into computing hardware and government agencies often served as early adopters for the first computers. In fact, the ENIAC, the first electronic computer, was built in 1945 to crunch numbers for the Army Ballistics Research Laboratory. In the 1950s, the Army Signal Corps funded research into semiconductors, and weapons labs at the Atomic Energy Commission were the first purchasers or super computers, the ancestor of today's desktop PCs. NASA, the departments of defense, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the US Weather Bureau commissioned their own supercomputers soon after. Sensing the administrative benefits of computing, the Social Security Administration was also an early adopter of computers, acquiring one of the first electronic computers in 1951 and fully functioning computers with storage in 1956.


    The following are the cliff notes (only from the Apple sections as requested) from a great book,' The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public Vs. Private Sector Myths' by Mariana Mazzucato. There is also some more details I went into to make the point more clearly. The research clearly shows state involvement in almost all technological innovations. Those publicly funded discoveries then are privatized and the benefits from revenue generated are institutionally horded. Thus the effect of capitalism on innovation is precisely the inverse of the common knowledge; The state is innovative and the capitalist institution is greedy and restrictive. The state funds the research that benefits the public but then those technologies are patented and privatized and the specific form the public consumes is only to generate revenue. This makes sense, why would a company risk money on unproven R&D when its mandate is to increase value of the stock for its shareholders? Pure R&D especially on a large scale must come from the state unless the fundamental corporate structure is drastically reformulated.

    The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public Vs. Private Sector Myths

    Mariana Mazzucato

    12 major technologies integrated within the iPod, iPhone and iPad that stand out as features that are either 'enablers', or that differentiate these products from their rivals in the market:

    1) CPU – Microprocessors and central processing units
    Integrated circuits (ICs) aided by procurment by US Air Force and NASA – sole consumers of initial ICs they helped fund the development of infant microprocessors.
    The Strategic Computing Initiative (SCI) which allocated over $1 billion to support research efforts in advanced computer technologies between 1983 and 1993 (Roland and Shiman 2002).
    The federal government gathered competitive domestic manufacturers and universities together to form a new partnership, the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SEMATECH) consortium, US government subsidized SEMATECH R&D with $100 million annually (Irwin and Klenow 1996).
    These analysts credit the existence of the potential government market with inducing private investment in R&D. They also generally agree that government support of semiconductor research in university and industry laboratories contributed to the welfare of the semiconductor industry by building substantial bases of scientific and technical expertise there. The analysts conclude that the various federal agencies and institutions established an atmosphere conducive to technical innovation by requiring device and system performance beyond the state of the art.
    Government Support of the Semiconductor Industry: Diverse Approaches and Information Flows

    2) DRAM – Dynamic random-access memory & 3) HDD – Micro hard drive storage or hard drive disks
    GMR – Giant Magnitoresistence
    Dr Albert Fert and Dr Peter Grunberg research was state funded and supported in Germany and France.
    Dr Fert discovered GMR at Paris-Sud University. Paris-Sud University, a member of the future Paris-Saclay University, receives funding from the French government for 11 research projects considered to be Laboratories of Excellence.[.] I do not have information on specific government funding for Dr Fert's work.
    Dr Grunberg discovered GMR at Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (Jülich Research Centre). The annual budget of Forschungszentrum Jülich is approximately € 530 million (in 2009). Public funds are split between the German Federal Government (90%) and the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (10%).
    Dr Grunberg's lab was affilated with Argonne National Laboratory (US DoE's largest R&D lab, located in Illinois) and received critical support from the DoE before the discovery.
    Explanation of GMR

    4) LCDs – Liquid Crystal Displays
    The major breakthrough in LCD technology came about during the 1970s, when the thin-film transistor (TFT) was being developed at the laboratory of Westinghouse under the direction of Peter Brody. The research carried out at Westinghouse was almost entirely funded by the US Army (Hart and Borrus 1992). After Westinghouse stopped research at the lab, all other private entities Brody sought funding from denied his request. In 1988, after receiving a $7.8 million contract from DARPA, Brody established Magnascreen to develop TFT-LCD. This advancement in the LCD technology became the basis for the new generation displays for the portable electronic devises such as microcomputers, phones, etc.

    5) Li-ion - Lithium Ion or lithium polymer batteries
    John B. Goodenough who pioneered the early research on lithium-ion battery technology received his main funding support from the Department of Energy (DoE) and National Science Foundation (NSF) in the 1980s (Henderson 2004; OSTI 2009)
    Last edited by TheKnowParty; 04-10-2015 at 08:18 PM.

  2. #2
    6) DSP – Digital signal processing
    Digital signal processing uses digital signal processors which are CPU's discussed above.

    Here is an example of how a government grant advances technologies. The grant was funded by the Army Research Office.
    Funding Numbers DAAH04-93-G-0405

    Concurrent Architecture for VSLI Signal and Image Processing

    Digital signal processing is the key technology in large number of applications such as multimedia, wireless and personal communications Gigabit networks, and most Video processing including compression storage, transmission and retrieval.
    Our research supported by the ARO grant has led to significant progress in design of high-speed or low-power implementations of recursive and adaptive digital filters, finite field arithmetic and error control coders, and folded or time multiplexed architectures for multi-dimensional and multirate systems.

    More reports and papers with associated patents can be found at the following website.

    7) FFT – Fast Fourier transform algorithms
    FFT is a tool used in DSP. These are not hardware but computational methodologies the hardware processes.

    The Cooley–Tukey algorithm, named after J.W. Cooley and John Tukey, is the most common fast Fourier transform (FFT) algorithm.

    Tukey reportedly came up with the idea during a meeting of a US presidential advisory committee discussing ways to detect nuclear-weapon tests in the Soviet Union.

    Here is another example of advancements in technology sponsored by government. There are many of these and has been ongoing for years. Case and point:

    Publication Date 1968
    Personal Author Wilson, J. C.
    Abstract This research contribution describes a computer program (CNA Number 76-67) which determines the Discrete Fourier Transform of a set of data, using a recently developed technique known as the Fast Fourier transform. The relation between Discrete Fourier Transforms and Fourier Series when the data is periodic is also known. (Author)
    • Information theory
    • Time series analysis
    • Fourier analysis
    • Integral transforms
    • Approximation(Mathematics)
    • Periodic variations
    • Power spectra
    • Series
    • Harmonic analysis
    • Numerical analysis
    • Computer programs
    • Discrete Fourier transforms
    • Fast Fourier transform
    • Fourier transforms
    • Fourier series
    • Hidden periodicities
    • Spectral analysis(Mathematics)
    NTIS Subject Category
    • 62E - Information Theory
    • 62A - Computer Hardware
    • 72 - Mathematical Sciences
    Corporate Authors Center for Naval Analyses Arlington VA Operations Evaluation Group
    Document Type Technical Report
    NTIS Issue Number 196820
    Contract Number
    • N00014-68-A-0091

    8) Internet
    Although DARPA approached AT&T and IBM to build such a network, both companies declined the request, saying that such a network was a threat to their business. With the help of the State owned British Post Office, DARPA successfully networked various stations from the west to the east coast (Abbate 1999). From the 1970s through the 1990s, DARPA funded the necessary communications protocol (TCP/IP), operating system (UNIX) and email programs needed for the communication system, while the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiated the first high-speed digital networks in the US (Kennedy 2003). DARPANET was the precursor to the internet.

    9) HTTP/HTML – Hypertext transfer protocol and Hypertext markup language
    In the late 1980s British scientist Tim Berners-Lee was developing the Hypertext Markup Language, Uniform Resource Locators (URL) and Uniform Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) (Wright 1997). Berners-Lee, with the help of another computer scientist named Robert Cailliau, implemented the first successful HTTP for the computers for the computer installed at CERN.
    As of 2014, CERN receives contributions from states with a total population of about 517 million people. Averaged across those states, the contribution per person in 2014 is about 2.2 CHF/year.
    It appears as if only 5.7% of CERN's funding is not directly attributable to member states as of 2014.

    10) Cellular technology and networks
    GPS was an attempt by the DoD (NAVSTAR GPS) to digitize the worldwide geographic positioning to enhance the coordination and accuracy of deployed military assets (Breakthrough Institute 2010). Even today, US Air Force has been at the forefront of developing and maintaining the system, which costs the government an average of $705 million annually. The DoD estimates that, in 2000 dollars, the development and procurement of the system cost the Air Force $5.6 billion between 1973 and 2000 (DoD 2011). The figure does not include military user equipment.

    11) Click wheel navigation and multi-touch screens
    E.A. Johnson, considered the inventor of capacitive touch-screens, published his first studies in the 1960s while working at Royal Radar Establishment (RRE), a British government agency established for R&D of defence-related technologies (Buxton 2012). CERN and Oak Ridge National Laboratories were early innovators in touch-screen technologies.
    The introduction of multi-touch scrolling and gestures was developed by Wayne Westerman and John Elias at the University of Delaware. Wayne Westerman was a doctoral candidate under the supervision of Professor John Elias studying neuromorphic systems at the (publicly funded) University of Delaware, as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Central Intelligence Agency/Director of Central Intelligence (CIA/DCI) Post-Doctoral Fellowship program (Westerman 1999). Westerman and Elias founded FingerWorks company bought out by Apple in 2005. Apple first generation iPhone was released in 2007. Apple's highly comprehensive intellectual property portfolio had benefited, once again, from technology that was originally underwritten by the state.

    12) SIRI – AI with a voice-user interface
    SIRI has its roots in federal funding and research. In 2000, DARPA asked the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to take the lead on a project to develop a sort of 'virtual office assistant' to assist military personnel. SRI was put in charge of coordinating the 'Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes' (CALO) project which included 20 universities all over the US collaborating to develop the necessary technology base. When the iPhone was launched in 2007 SRI recognized the opportunity for CALO as a smartphone application.
    Then there is the issue that MODing (modifying by user tweaks) are not really possible with Apple products. It is not possible for a Mac user to build their own system or repair systems if damaged.
    There is also the issue of Apple revenue being put offshore so as not to have to pay taxes. Apple paid no corporate income tax to any national government on tens of billions of dollars in overseas income over the past four years.
    This is despite Apple not existing without government R&D funding.

    When touting the greatness of capitalism, Apple is probably the last example you would want to use.

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