New York Times: “Where the Whole Agenda Is Innovation”

The New York Times profiles John Kao today in its Scientists at Work series. Here’s a snippet:

“Many people believe there is no problem because we are No. 1,” he said. As long as there is “no current pain,” he said, advocating for an innovation agenda is like advising patients to eat a healthier diet, exercise and stop smoking.

He said that might explain the inability of a group of eminent scientists to interest presidential candidates in a debate on science issues, “The conclusion I drew was it was not deemed important in drawing votes,” Dr. Kao said. But, he said, he hoped the next presidential administration would draw together scientists, business leaders, designers and others and ask them to produce a practical agenda for improving innovation. “And I would lock the door and make them work on it,” he said.

The United States is never going to lead in areas like low-cost production, he said, but it can be a dynamo for devising new technologies and combining existing technologies in new ways.

“The world needs us, even if it does not believe it,” he said. “I don’t believe in this ‘post-America’ world at all.”

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