Why America Will Lead the Coming Tech Boom

Jan 31, 2012

One hundred years ago, the telephone, electricity, and the automobile were foremost among the emerging technologies that propelled America’s economic growth.

In the Wall Street Journal, physicists Mark P. Mills and Julio M. Ottino make the case that the world is once again on the cusp of major technological innovation. They further posit that America will lead the way on three technologies that will "engender sweeping changes to our society and our economy."

Big data: Information technology today is characterized by virtually unlimited data storage which can be accessed by increasingly sophisticated devices, such as the iPhone.

Smart manufacturing: Information systems are becoming progressively more intelligent and computationally engineered materials have seemingly limitless potential, from 3-D printing to invisibility.

The wireless revolution: Billions of people around the world are connected wirelessly; billions more will be soon. Wireless connectivity offers an inexpensive means for people to “communicate, socialize, and trade in real time.”

The United States is poised to lead this innovation and stands to gain a great from it in the near and distant future. The nation's youthful demographics, dynamic culture, and strong educational system will help usher in this new era of entrepreneurial growth. Policy-makers also have a role to play. Mills and Ottino note, "Liquid financial markets, sensible tax and immigration policy, and balanced regulations will allow the next boom to flourish."

"America's success isn't preordained," Mills and Ottino acknowledge. "But the technological innovations circa 2012 are profound ... All the forces are in place. It's just a matter of when."

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