Former Google boss: The United States 'dropped the ball' on innovation


According to Google and former chief executive Eric Schmidt, in the tech-dominated war between the United States and China, the United States "dropped the ball" in funding basic research.

Former Google boss: The United States 'dropped the ball' on innovation


And that's one of the main reasons why China is getting’ caught.

Dr. Schmidt, who currently chairs the U.S. Department of Defense Innovation Board, said he believes the United States is still ahead of China in technological innovation.

But the gap is narrowing.

"There is a real focus in China around inventions and new AI technologies," he told the BBC's Talking Business Asia program. "China is now in the grip of the race to publish articles."

According to the World Economic Forum, China displaced the United States in 2018 as the world's top research publisher in science and engineering.



This is important because it shows how much China is focusing on research and development compared to the United States.

For example, Chinese telecom infrastructure giant Huawei spends a maximum of b 20 billion (b 15.6bn) on research and development - one of the highest budgets in the world.

It is helping R&D Chinese tech companies advance in key areas such as artificial intelligence and 5G.

Dr. Schmidt accused the United States and the lack of funding of bridging the gap between innovation and the United States.

"Throughout my life, the United States has been the undisputed leader of R&D," said the former Google boss. "Financing was equivalent to 2% or more of the country's GDP. R&D has recently been lower than before Sputnik."

According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a US lobby group for technology, the US government now invests less in R&D than in an economy of more than 60 years.

The result was "steady productivity growth, lagging behind competition and slowing down innovation."

Dr. Schmidt also said that the dominance of tech in the United States is based’ on international capabilities that allow people to work and study in the United States.

Tech war
"High-skilled immigration is critical to American competition, global competitiveness, building these new companies, and so on," he said. "There aren't many skilled people in the United States."

The United States is embroiled in a Cold War with China and has stepped up anti-China rhetoric in recent months.

This week, it revoked the visas of 1,000 Chinese students who claim to have military ties and have been accused’ by Chinese tech companies of acting as agents of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Trump administration has also taken steps to block Chinese tech companies like Huawei and Chinese apps, including Tik Tok and WeChat, saying they pose a threat to national security.

Beijing has called it "naked bullying", and Dr Schmidt says the ban would mean more investment in China's own domestic manufacturing.

Dr. Schmidt says the right strategy for US-China relations is the so-called "hostile partnership" where the United States needs to be able to "cooperate with China as well as compete with it." Required.

"When we're rivals, we're rough, we're looking for things. We're competing hard, we're trying to take advantage - the real competition - what America can do better, and what China can do better. But there are also many areas where we need to be partners. "

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