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Obama at Google on a National Innovation Policy.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on June 2, 2008

Thank you Gustavo Munoz for pointing out this YouTube video of Barack Obama talking at Google a year ago about innovation.

Here are the outlines of an Obama National Innovation Policy:

1- Network neutrality. Keep the internet open.

2- Broadband access. Connect everyone to very fast broadband.

3- Use technology to open democracy. Put government data online in accessible formats. Allow people to track earmarks, regulation and other lobbying efforts. Have citizens participate in forums on pending legislation and regulation.

4- Appoint a national Chief Technology Officer.

5- Make technology literacy a fundamental part of education. Give children the skills to compete globally.

6- Create electronic medical records that are safe.

7- End additional to oil with clean and renewable energy.

8- Double federal funding of basic research.

9- Make the federal R&D tax credit permanent.

10- Do comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens the HIb program.

My own take on this—which is a year old—is that it relies on technology as a savior rather than innovation which is a powerful methodology of creating new options to deal with new and old problems. Above all, innovation focusses on the individual first—student, consumer, voter, patient, traveler—and then uses technlogy to help that person with their needs and wants. I would like to see a Chief Innovation Officer for the country, not just a Chief Tech Officer.

But this is a good start for Obama.

Reader Comments

Mike Riley

June 3, 2008 8:10 AM

Mr, Nussbaum-

While I can see your point on innovation vs technology, it's refreshing to see ANY politician making such a statement. Whether "the next big thing" is invented in Indiana or India, those nations that are ready to make use of it will take the lead in using it. Over the last generation, we have slowly but surely fallen behind. We need to catch up.
As you correctly point out, a good start.

-Mike Riley

ravi Sawhney

June 4, 2008 10:29 AM


Wouldn't a competitive analysis and recommendations led by you be of great value?

Perhaps you could take your idea to the next level.

At times it seems there may be no one better than you to lead a change like this within the design profession and for the better of the community.

Might you consider it?



June 4, 2008 12:49 PM

Other than making the R&D tax credit permanent, this is hardly a list of innovation propellants; it would be more aptly titled "Trying to get elected policy." I am not surprised though that BusinessWeek is trumpeting Obama's "innovation" proposals, as off-target they may be.

One area that BusinessWeek should focus on is how severe the DECLINE in innovation and trade will be with Obama's proposed tax increases. Now that would be interesting!

Wonsub Kim

June 4, 2008 1:35 PM

I am not quite sure where the innovation exists in the listed stratege. Every one is already heading toward that. He seems to be an inventor(?) of innovation just like Al Gore said he invented internet. I do not see any practicallity in his saying, but taking credit by saying. All what he talked about have been in the government policy for a long time. He is just taking advantage of the by saying exactly the same as Al Gore took advantage of existance on internet.

Jim Willson

June 4, 2008 2:11 PM

As far as education goes, we need to ensure technological literacy is not at the expense of being taught critical thinking skills. In business, I am constantly seeing errors by employees "plugging and chugging" number without understanding the underlying assumptions of a computer program. In some business areas, the environment is forgiving of such errors. In higher risk operations, like commercial aviation, this behavior can have devastating consequences. The graduates of today's educational establishment appear to lack this skill to such an extent that I predict that within the next 10 years a major disaster will be caused by a knowledge based error.


June 4, 2008 4:28 PM

What is the value of a national chief technology officer? Innovation generally occurs in spite of central authority, and adding ineffectual funcions serves to institutionalize the status quo. While funding basic research is desirable in some areas, it introduces perverse incentives to do what everyone already understands. I don't see this as fostering innovation.

Dan K

June 4, 2008 4:59 PM

Wonsub Kim,
Not sure what you are reading. Very little of the agenda above reflects current policy. Example: broadband access under the current government has fallen behind the rest of the world because the current government has no policy on expanding broadband, relying solely upon the private market. Doubling the budget for basic research is by definition a change (unless the current budget were to be 0). Finally, Al Gore never said he invented the internet. He claimed credit for opening it up to commerce and the credit is deserved.

R. McDanel

June 4, 2008 5:35 PM

Innovation is the catch-all for anything you wish it to be. Everything on the list has been said before and will be said again until the next technology buzz.

The education system in the United States is broken and has been since the end of World War II. The so called education system we have is not a system at all but nothing more then small “kingdoms” dominated by petty local politics. Small wonder the public school “system” is losing out to the charter schools who actually control the school environment and promote real learning based on a solid understanding of what education is about.

Mike Gebauer

June 4, 2008 6:32 PM

R. McDanel'
"The education system in the United States is broken..." You couldn't have said it better! We owe our standing in the US educational hierarchy here in ALabama to our "KING" Mr. Paul Hubbert, who dominates not only local petty politics, but state-wide petty politics as well.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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