Sunday, May 20, 2012

Innovation in China?

A lot of people get upset with the Chinese because they copy so much of our technology.  It's a familiar refrain -- we heard it said about Japan, Russia, etc.  The bottom line is that really good technology is bound to get copied.

What is interesting to think about is whether we copy technology from China?  No, by and large we don't these days.  (Let's overlook all the inventions of the early Chinese that were copied by what came to be the foundation of western civilization).

Advancing technologies require either
a)  A desperate need to do things a better way (improved agricultural practices), OR
b)  A luxury of time to think creatively.

And both situations, in order that the technology will flourish, require a government structure that encourages, allows, or permits innovative thought.  Chinese society and government are very conformist these days, which makes it hard for an Eli Whitney or Boeing Company or Apple (especially Apple) to get off the ground.

My friends who have immigrated from China, once hear, have exploded in creativity and innovation.  One of them tells me it isn't that he was afraid or constrained from doing so in China -- the ideas simply never occurred to him.

Until China's government prizes the maverick, the innovator, the type who "goes their own way", their ability to birth new technologies and companies is limited.

It's similar to what my husband discovered when he researched the idea of how countries use their air forces (remember, he's a retired USAF pilot).  In totalitarian regimes, the rulers feared their airmen.  Of course -- if a pilot wasn't loyal, he could drop bombs on the presidential palace!  Saddam Hussein kept his pilots far away and under strict control.

See a connection?

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