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Innovation Files

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Innovation Files

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

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Explore the intersection of technology, innovation, and public policy with the world’s leading think tank on these issues. Innovation Files serves up expert interviews, fascinating insights, and head-turning commentary on how to accelerate innovation, promote economic growth, and serve the public good. Expect to hear some unconventional wisdom.
 
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Ellysse and Ashley Break the Internet

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Ellysse and Ashley Break the Internet

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

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What exactly is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and why is a 1996 law so important today? Why have Presidents Biden and Trump both said they want to repeal it? Was it to blame when Twitter and Facebook banned Trump from their platforms, or was it the reason they didn’t ban him sooner? Join policy analysts from the world’s leading tech policy think tank as they break down one of the most contentious debates about free speech, intermediary liability, and the future of the Intern ...
 
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Midwestern populism caused a ripple effect that extended to open technology transfers and exchanges between Ford Motor Company and both Soviet and Nazi specialists. Rob and Jackie sat down with Stefan Link, Associate Professor of History at Dartmouth University, to discuss Henry Ford and his “open door policy” regarding methods and engineering.…
 
There are techniques for thoroughly thinking through how technologies will be adopted, what their implications will be, how they will spur growth, and how they will create new industries. Rob and Jackie sat down with futurist and tech expert Peter Leyden, who hosts Civilization Salons at The Long Now Foundation, to discuss how digital technologies …
 
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 …
 
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 staf…
 
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 computin…
 
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 inn…
 
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 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 Rou…
 
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. com…
 
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 discu…
 
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-dist…
 
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 Horow…
 
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…
 
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,…
 
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 Hoo…
 
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 strategi…
 
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 au…
 
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 Re…
 
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 …
 
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, t…
 
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…
 
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…
 
The first industrial robots appeared in the early 1960s and were initially optimized for production lines. These days, innovation in robotics is progressing rapidly as sophisticated localization and mapping enables improved robotic mobility, and as new levels of flexible manipulation allow robots to perform more specialized tasks. Rob and Jackie sa…
 
Antitrust policy should favor dynamic, innovation-driven competition, yet antitrust regulators generally don’t see it that way. Why is that? Rob and Jackie sat down recently with David Teece, the Thomas W. Tusher Professor in Global Business at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, to discuss the intersection of innovation and economics in antitru…
 
For the military, capabilities in the field matter most, not R&D. So, when it comes to artificial intelligence, the Defense Department has been moving quickly by standing up a special team, like a startup enterprise. Its first pilot project, “Project Maven,” began as an intelligence application. Now the push is on to apply it in other areas. Rob an…
 
Industrial policy can produce great technological innovations to address major challenges for society. A perfect example is Operation Warp Speed, which has saved millions of lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rob and Jackie sat down with David Adler, an adviser on industrial strategy at the Common Good Foundation in the United Kingdom and author o…
 
Addressing climate change requires accelerating clean energy innovation across the full range of economic sectors—from transportation to electricity, manufacturing, and agriculture. Rob and Jackie sat down with David Hart, a professor of public policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and director of ITIF’s Center f…
 
From bottle manufacturing to machine repair, automation has made just about every industry more efficient and adaptive to consumer demands. But despite its omnipresence, policymakers have failed to fully understand what drives industrial automation and why it matters for the economy. Rob sat down with Dave Vasko, director of advanced technology at …
 
Antitrust policy provides a perfect lens to see the systematic differences between China and Western liberal democracies, according to Dr. Angela Zhang, director of the Center for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong. In her book Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism: How the Rise of China Challenges Global Regulation, Zhang argues China leverages…
 
Facial recognition technology has faced widespread allegations of discrimination in recent years, leading some cities to restrict its use—but exactly how valid are these claims? Rob and Jackie sit down with ITIF’s vice president and director of the Center for Data Innovation, Daniel Castro, to discuss why many of the claims are misleading, and how …
 
Long before Walmart and Amazon, there was A&P—The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company—which started as a mail-order tea business in the Civil War era before displacing Sears, Roebuck & Co. in the 1920s to become the world’s largest retailer. Its pioneering innovations made the mom-and-pop grocery business more efficient and less expensive, and in …
 
IBM shaped the way the world did business for decades, driving the government’s technological innovation, competing to build the first PCs, and adapting to service economy. Few people know IBM’s fascinating history as well as Jim Cortada, a senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota and the author of IBM: The Rise and Fall and Reinventio…
 
When it comes to the innovation economy, there is no hotter issue these days than antitrust. Technology companies, in particular, are on the firing line as an increasingly vocal populist movement seeks to refashion late 19th century antitrust laws to guard against monopoly power and slow down disruptive innovation in the digital era. In these condi…
 
Throughout modern history, public financing has made possible some of the most important and impactful innovations society has enjoyed—from refrigeration to the Internet—and the spillover benefits have been incalculable. But what are the optimal ways for the public sector to intervene in the innovation process to maximize those benefits and solve b…
 
When it comes to national innovation ecosystems, Norway has been a standout performer. After discovering oil, it vaulted from being one of Europe’s poorest countries in the 1950s to become a high-wage, high-cost nation with strengths in B2B products, heavy industry, shipping, and shipbuilding. Now it is pivoting toward renewable energy—including of…
 
There is a deep disconnect between the U.S. education system and the workplace. How can policymakers bridge the gap and create clear pathways to good jobs? How do technical schools, community colleges, employers, governments, and universities fit together as pieces of the workforce education puzzle—and how can new education technologies help delive…
 
The “techlash” is a story of extreme pendulum swings—from an era in which splashy product launches earned gushing media reviews to a relentless crisis narrative in which the tech industry is viewed with harsh suspicion. How has this happened? Is it a case of pack journalism run amok, or have tech companies contributed to the narrative with predicta…
 
Neil Chilson, tech policy expert at the Charles Koch Institute and former FTC chief technologist, joins Ellysse and Ashley to forecast where the debate surrounding Section 230 is heading and present a vision for the future of content and online speech regulation. Mentioned Neil Chilson, “Statement of Neil Chilson: Section 230 – Nurturing Innovation…
 
Andrew Bolson, privacy lawyer advocating for Section 230 reform, joins Ellysse and Ashley to evaluate the need for Section 230 reform in order to protect consumers and limit online abuse, suggest what form that should take, and explain the risks of taking a subjective approach to reforming online intermediary liability. Mentioned Andrew P. Bolson, …
 
Jennifer Huddleston, tech policy expert at the American Action Forum, joins Ellysse and Ashley to highlight the benefits of Section 230 for free speech, competition, and innovation and explore the potential implications of new regulations for civil liberties. Mentioned Brent Skorup and Jennifer Huddleston, “The Erosion of Publisher Liability in Ame…
 
Elisa D’Amico, co-founder of the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project—which provides pro bono legal assistance to victims of nonconsensual pornography—joins Ellysse and Ashley to explain the unique challenges the Internet poses for combatting online abuse, the struggles victims face seeking justice, and the role online platforms play in moderating abus…
 
There is an inordinate amount of hype and fear around artificial intelligence these days, as a chorus of scholars, luminaries, media, and politicians nervously project that it could soon take our jobs and subjugate or even kills us off. Others are just as fanciful in hoping it is on the verge of solving all our problems. But the truth is AI isn’t n…
 
David Kaye, free speech expert at the University of California, Irvine, joins Ellysse and Ashley to explore the challenges of developing effective and culturally relevant content moderation policies in different countries and how intermediary liability laws like Section 230 impact online speech for billions of users around the world. Mentioned Davi…
 
David Chavern, CEO of a news industry trade association representing nearly 2,000 publishers, joins Ellysse and Ashley to discuss the impact of Section 230 on traditional media and the spread of misinformation, as well as how the news industry handles the issue of intermediary liability. Mentioned David Chavern, “The News Media and Section 230,” Ne…
 
Jessica Ashooh, Director of Policy at Reddit, joins Ellysse and Ashley to explore the impact of Section 230 on small to mid-sized companies and explain its importance for innovation and competition in the Internet economy. Mentioned “H.R.1865 - Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017,” Congress.gov. Related Emily Birnba…
 
Daphne Keller, platform regulation expert at Stanford University and former Associate General Counsel for Google, joins Ellysse and Ashley to explain Section 230’s role in shaping how large companies approach content moderation on a massive scale, and how intermediary liability protections allow platforms of all sizes to thrive. Mentioned Jennifer …
 
In the final weeks of the Trump administration, Rob and Jackie sat down with Dan Wang, a technology analyst and China expert at Gavekal Dragonomics Research, to discuss the successes and failures of Chinese industrial policy and to evaluate the impact of U.S. export restrictions. In the previous four years, there weren’t many Chinese tech companies…
 
Aaron Mackey, staff attorney and free speech expert at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, joins Ellysse and Ashley to evaluate recent proposals to amend or repeal Section 230 based on their potential impact and effectiveness. Mentioned “S.3398 - EARN IT Act of 2020,” Congress.gov. “S.4534 - Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act,” Congress.gov…
 
Klon Kitchen, a tech policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute who authored the Heritage Foundation’s Section 230 reform proposal, joins Ellysse and Ashley to unpack the political debate surrounding Section 230 and the treatment of political speech online. Mentioned Klon Kitchen, “Section 230—Mend It, Don’t End It” (Heritage Foundation, Oc…
 
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