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America's Future Is In Software, Not Hardware

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the developers-developers-developers dept.

Software 630

New submitter tcjr2006 writes "Obama's State of the Union focused on the return of manufacturing jobs to America. This New Yorker story makes the case that the manufacturing jobs aren't going to come back, and he should be focusing on software. Quoting: 'Yes, there are industries where manufacturing jobs can be brought back to America through proper tax incentives and training programs. But maybe he should have talked more about the things that he could do to keep software jobs here. He spoke of federal funding for university and scientific research. But a real pro-software agenda would also include reforming patent law to stop trolling (and perhaps eliminating software patents altogether); increasing H-1B visas for highly skilled coders; stopping Congress from defunding DARPA, whose research helped create Siri, the iPhone’s talking assistant; and opening up the unused, federally owned wireless spectrum. That agenda wouldn’t bring Apple’s manufacturing jobs back, but it would help to keep the company’s coding jobs here. And it would certainly help develop "an economy that’s built to last."'"

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Oh yes, software (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840513)

We can eat it, wear it, breathe it... What the hell kind of society will this be if everyone just writes software all day?

Re:Oh yes, software (5, Funny)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840537)


Re:Oh yes, software (4, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840877)

In all fairness, there is a heck of a lot more value in software than in hardware. Hardware is now a commodity, nothing more.

And in other news, this is one of the very very rare piece of wisdom to make it up the front page of slashdot in a long time. It's like there was a disturbance in the force... Did you feel it too?

Re:Oh yes, software (2)

Azuaron (1480137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840615)

Just wait until we have matter compilers. Then the software will pump out stuff we can eat, wear, and breathe.

Re:Oh yes, software (2)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840669)

E=MC^2 makes a "matter compiler" a pretty hefty energy investment.

Re:Oh yes, software (2)

Azuaron (1480137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840837)

A matter compiler isn't about converting energy into matter (or vice-versa), but of rearranging already present matter into an appropriate configuration, which, while energy consumptive, is much more doable (and already being done by microbiology researchers on a small scale).

Re:Oh yes, software (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840653)

We can eat it, wear it, breathe it... What the hell kind of society will this be if everyone just writes software all day?

Let's suppose that some time in the next, I don't know, ten or twenty years, the combination of general purpose programmable robots and 3D printers allows you to do anything that might generally fall under the designation "manual labor" more cheaply with a machine than it costs to hire a person.

You know what kind of jobs that leaves for people to do? Let me give you some examples: Lawyers, corporate managers, stock brokers, insurance salesmen, etc.

Also, programmers.

And I've got a punch in the face for anyone who thinks we should be concentrating on creating more jobs for the people on the first list.

Re:Oh yes, software (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840729)

Let's suppose that some time in the next, I don't know, ten or twenty years, the combination of general purpose programmable robots and 3D printers allows you to do anything that might generally fall under the designation "manual labor" more cheaply with a machine than it costs to hire a person.

Not going to happen. It was happening, and then someone realized that there already are plenty of general-purpose programmable organic robots far more flexible than any mechanical implement likely to appear within the next 50 years. And that you can in fact maintain these robots far more cheaply than most Westerners think. Thus, Chinese manufacturing was born.

Re:Oh yes, software (3, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840981)

That's not how it works.

Cheap labor impacts the rate at which machines replace humans for manual jobs, because it reduces the incentive to invest in developing those machines (since there are less savings to be had, so the margins on the machines are lower). But that investment has not been zeroed out by any means.

On top of that, we're talking about American jobs, so who cares what the Chinese are doing? You might as well throw them in the same class as the robots, in the sense that if there is {something} that will do the work cheaper than Americans, Americans had better find some other work to do.

And as time goes on, the number of jobs in that category continues to increase -- it wasn't that long ago that they put in those hand scanners at the grocery store that let you scan the items in your cart as you put them in and then do nothing more than swipe your credit card as you walk out the door. I'd bet a fair number of checkout clerks lost their jobs over that one.

Re:Oh yes, software (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840795)

The funny thing is that a replicator, universal 3D printer, or anything like that could mean the end of manufacturing jobs. Since most people aren't capable of being engineers we're going to have to decide what % of the population is going to be permanently unemployed.

Re:Oh yes, software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840931)

I'm going with option 2 of the future.
Natural resources run out so Walmart unleashes the Omega virus to wipe out humanity.
Then with a select group of slaves and corporate masters they will create a new world as seen in the eyes of the Mormon god Asmuldon.

Re:Oh yes, software (5, Insightful)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840675)

That's silly. Almost nobody is engaged in the production of food, yet it's plentiful and cheap. 100 years ago, well over 50% of the population of the US was engaged in agriculture; today, that number is around 2%.

The same forces that drove agricultural employment down have also driven manufacturing employment down. US manufacturing output, after adjusting for inflation, is the highest it's ever been (well, in 2007, it was the highest. It's in a dip right now b/c of the economy.) Meanwhile, manufacturing employment has been dropping steadily since the early '50s. That's only possible because US workers are far more productive than they were in the past.

As US manufacturing workers become more productive, more are freed up to do things which a less prosperous country could not afford to do, like developing software.

Re:Oh yes, software (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840881)

Yep, it's crazy to see a few people manage a plot of land where the fence is in the horizon, but that's where technology's gotten us.

Re:Oh yes, software (5, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840899)

With one problem: Our society believes that everyone has to work for their supper. The problem is that as production gets more efficient you don't need as many people. We're going to have some serious problems if we can't get it through our heads that we're going to make a world so efficient that eventually very few people will need to be employed.

Re:Oh yes, software (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840753)

This is such a fantasy, we might as well base our economy on Unicorn horns.

Again with the visas (5, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840529)

increasing H-1B visas for highly skilled coders

How is increasing the number of workers supposed to decrease the unemployment rate?

Re:Again with the visas (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840589)

That is my concern. We have plenty of people ready, willing, and able to code here in the US. H-1Bs usually are gotten because the phrase "the US doesn't have enough skilled workers" usually means "we can't find a CISSP who will work in the Bay Area for $24,000/year." Couple that with "secret requirements", and it is just a lame end run by companies who want US dollars but are otherwise hostile to the nation.

Re:Again with the visas (4, Insightful)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840655)

More skilled workers means that

- some of them will eventually be enterpreneurs
- it's easier to find people for specific fields of knowledge

More foreign people in that case actually means more jobs for the locals as well, as the economy around it grows.

Re:Again with the visas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840743)

"More foreign people in that case actually means more jobs for the locals as well, as the economy around it grows."

Really? It's not like Sanjay is going to be eating the burgers those locals will be hired to flip.

Re:Again with the visas (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840957)

bullshit. every indian I know sends huge amounts of money BACK HOME.

and they often plan to return home, eventually; so the investment in them is sunk.

lose/lose for us americans.

I do not support the US pushing more and more toward software. software can be done remotely and that means we won't have a lot of local jobs, FOR ANYONE, if this continues on.

I work in software in the bay area. I'm local born and yet I can't find a job. when I go into interviews, I see many foreign faces and this is not at all a balanced system!

I know very well that almost all of them are overworked and underpaid. but they are more 'abusable' than native-born american citizens. we don't usually 'jump' when the bossman says; but overseas, they feel lucky to have ANY job. they ask 'how high' and bossman loves that shit.

our jobs are gone. MOSTLY due to software, in fact. if we brought hardware (manuf) back, I don't think you'd see the huge influx of people who want to work those jobs. and we'd also be more self sufficient WHEN the foreign goods' quality gets to the point where its impossible to rely on or use anymore.

if the president thinks 'software in the US' is any kind of key to our future, he's more lost-in-a-daze than I even thought possible.

someone's going to make coin from this; but it won't be you or me.

Re:Again with the visas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840963)

I keep hearing that argument and yet we can offer 6 figures upwards in the bay area and still not find anyone good enough to hire. 90% of the people we've interviewed are Indian citizens out of US masters programs. It consistently amazes me that we're not getting more applications from this fabled pool of highly qualified American citizens. My only conclusion is that it is *very* dependent on the precise field you want to hire in.

Re:Again with the visas (1)

Vicarius (1093097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38841011)

..."we can't find a CISSP who will work in the Bay Area for $24,000/year."...

They might want to hire someone for $24k, but the H1-B process does not work like that. They have to send all of the job requirements, resume, diplomas, recommendation letters,and other supporting information to government for Labor Certification process, which will give them a minimum salary they are allowed to pay for that job. Numbers are usually based on averages for the job and the region.

...Couple that with "secret requirements"...

It is worth mentioning that your experience, that you gained while already working for the company that is applying for your H1-B visa, is NOT allowed be used to justify your qualification requirements for the job. You will fail Labor Certification process and will not get H1-B approved.

Re:Again with the visas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840611)

Because it's much easier to transfer my domain knowledge to a team over there if I can come over there to train the team without ridiculous impediments.

Re:Again with the visas (5, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840685)

It isn't just the tech industry under attack. Maybe someone can explain why Chinese contractors and workers are building bridges here?

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/us-bridges-roads-built-chinese-firms-14594513?tab=9482930?ion=1206853&playlist=14594944 [go.com]

I'm no "Red State USA1 FUCK YEAH" type of person, but maybe we should start looking into a little bit of economic nationalism. This is anathema to the multi-nationals that own our government though, so we'll just keep importing workers and exporting work till we look like any other third world economy, with a very few controlling all the wealth, and the rest of us eating dirt.

Re:Again with the visas (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840975)

Maybe someone can explain why Chinese contractors and workers are building bridges here?

If I were to guess, I would say that the reason they are building them is probably simply because they are building them cheaper while still satisfying the quality required by the client. But it's just a guess...

Re:Again with the visas (2)

u38cg (607297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840709)

Your error is called the lump of labour fallacy, the idea that there is a certain amount of work to be done and that a foreigner doing it takes a job away from an American. In fact, the presence of H1-B holders bring new skills and enables the creation of firms that would not otherwise exist, and hence creates new jobs.

Re:Again with the visas (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840815)

That argument would hold more water if there weren't thousands of grumpy unemployed IT workers running around the US. Some of them were in the wrong field to begin with, some of them are entry level and don't have enough experience to satisfy the needs of the industry, but a good many of them just want too much money for companies to bother paying because they are so highly skilled and have so much experience.

Re:Again with the visas (2)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840773)

A ton of ways.
1. Unemployment in software is in the realm of what is usually considered booming economy levels(below 5%).
2. Every person who actively has a job is contributing to the economy in terms of buying things, investing, etc.
3. Theoretically,(and I don't really buy this point myself), more (necessary) software means more efficiency in the economy, meaning more is made, meaning prices for consumers go down.
4. Better competition in the field means better work gets done(maybe?).

It's easy to see how getting high-skill employees into the US when we have the chance is valuable to our local economy.

Re:Again with the visas (1)

Vicarius (1093097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840855)

How is increasing the number of workers supposed to decrease the unemployment rate?

It will prevent people from working for $1 oversees and competing with you on solely on the price. Instead, they will come over here and join the ranks of unemployed and drive salaries of software jobs up (since there are less people now willing to work for lower pay).

Re:Again with the visas (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840939)

How is increasing the number of workers supposed to decrease the unemployment rate?

If company moves dev center to other country, it will have impact on unemployment rate when infrastructure support services have nothing to support.

Re:Again with the visas (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840951)

Highly skilled workers create jobs for others by doing their job to a superior level thus allowing business expansion for one. Just ask India...

Re:Again with the visas (1)

goruka (1721094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38841015)

Try not being so short-sighted. Many projects can't be done well, or can't be done at all if you don't include someone with a lot of experience and in a team. In the US (unlike other parts of the world), the really experienced guys, with a great track record, are either extremely expensive to hire or only available as consultants. If you can't get these people (because they are either too expensive or short in supply), then your project is a no-go, and your whole team (which will consist mainly of americans) misses a chance to do it, or worse because the whole project will then be outsourced. This is true for several fields in science, and even in software, like enterprise software, databases, or even videogames. So, yeah, highly skilled people on H1B, when used properly, are great because they will definitely create employment.

America's future is same as it present (2)

hantarto (2421914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840543)

America future have already happen. Article like this ignore the fact that we are all trapped in space and time. Reality is that the World future is many different future that already exist at different positions on probability axis. Future is hardware, future is software, future is both, future is nothing haha.

I dedicate this post to my mama and to God.

Re:America's future is same as it present (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840701)

Timecube is the answer!

Re:America's future is same as it present (1)

hantarto (2421914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840797)

I am still wait for Gene Ray to present his absolute proof. In meantime I more concern with accessing different points in spacetime configuration. There are better permutation of this world out there I am sure. World where MacDonald serve breakfast all day for example, haha!

Defunding DARPA is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840551)

Less military research, more research that we actually benefit from.

Re:Defunding DARPA is a good idea (4, Insightful)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840705)

Says the man posting to a computer on a network whoich started as a DARPA project.

Re:Defunding DARPA is a good idea (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840829)

You're assuming that without DARPA, we wouldn't have the internet at all. I'll give you that we wouldn't have it in its exact current form, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't have an equivalent system -- the protocols might be different and such, but the basic communications concept of sharing information via linked computer systems would almost certainly have evolved.

Re:Defunding DARPA is a good idea (1)

The Mister Purple (2525152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840841)

Indeed, DARPA is one place I like to see getting extra tax dollars. Even their failed projects are usually entertaining to read about in a "WTF?" way.

Re:Defunding DARPA is a good idea (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840821)

Less military research, more research that we actually benefit from.

Like jet engines, rocket engines, the Internet and Super Glue?

visas for highly skilled coders (1)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840553)

visas for highly skilled coders

What would the criteria be?

Re:visas for highly skilled coders (5, Interesting)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840767)

Should be "You must pay this person slightly above the going rate for software developers where you are," thus taking away the incentive to bring in foreign workers only because they're cheaper, and leaving the incentive to bring them in when you can't find a domestic worker to do the same thing.

Re:visas for highly skilled coders (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840885)

You have to be alive and fully conscious.. and willing to eat biscuits and drink tea for breakfast, be ready to work with 15 minutes notice, and work for at least 12 hours a day for 35 cents. Swear allegiance to a certain Middle Eastern religious state... Bonus points for picking up a gun and killing a Muslim or two.

So how are those software patents working out ? (1)

yakumo.unr (833476) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840587)

There really aren't enough sensible ways of doing anything for this to work well.

What a load of bullshit. (3, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840591)

We're already farming out software.

It's not as if anyone with the means, i.e., money, is trying to reverse the trend.

This doesn't even pass the bellylaugh test.


Re:What a load of bullshit. (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840687)

Patents play a role here. Who would want to develop software in this country, when some idiot in texas can patent broad terms and just keep looking for people to sue?

Foolish (0)

TheRealGrogan (1660825) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840609)

Software, especially the proprietary kind they want to make money on, goes poof. The only way to make big money on software is dishonestly, like Microsoft who has gamed the system to have a captive audience.

People pirate software (and you can't stop them) and people use free alternatives (and you can't stop them)

I think America had better plan on basing their economy on something real, not imaginary property, for the rest of the world doesn't share their vision.

Re:Foolish (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38841005)

People pirate software (and you can't stop them) and people use free alternatives (and you can't stop them)

Ah, but I think Apple has proven that you can stop them. The number of iPads, iPhones and iPods running pirated software is less than a few percent. It isn't impossible to do, it is just hard enough and risky enough that nobody is going to do it without a really good reason. And that lets out 97% of the people of the world. Also, when was the last time you thought about anti-virus or anti-malware software for an iPhone or iPad? Never - the problem doesn't exist for these platforms. So we have two bugbears of the PC (and Mac) world killed dead.

Can you understand why Microsoft and everyone else is trying to build an App Store model? Of course it isn't going to work quite as well. Windows 8 might be a step in the right direction, but probably not. But the walled-garden, locked-down appliance model is the one that works for most of the people most of the time. There are a few people in the world that really need a general-purpose programmable computer that will accept any software the owner wishes to put on it without limitation - but these machines need administration and need to be protected from folks that would like to steal from you, do you harm and just cause mayhem for the fun of it. Clearly for the rest of the world the appliance model is the winner.

Increasing H-1B visas (1)

electricalen (623623) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840617)

"increasing H-1B visas for highly skilled coders"

No thanks, companies are already using H-1B workers to fill their positions, cutting out jobs for us American programmers and lowering wages. I keep hearing that companies are desperate for tech workers and there are not enough people to fill positions. Yet my resume gets tossed half the time, and the companies I interview at are very arrogant, acting more like you need them and should feel grateful they are even considering hiring you.

Re:Increasing H-1B visas (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840679)

The law backs them up. Being explicitly exempt from things like overtime, we get the stigma of being "rented mules". You don't like it? Fine, we'll find someone else, until we have no other choice but to hire cheap overseas talent!

Re:Increasing H-1B visas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840683)

Sounds like you have just a touch of arrogance there yourself.

Re:Increasing H-1B visas (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840733)

I always wonder when I read these kinds of comments, do you also think we should keep Mexican immigrants from entering the country? Or are you only anti-immigrant when it is your own job on the line?

Software will be outsourced just like hardware. (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840627)

It is far less expensive to have a group overseas develop software. Not better, just cheaper. The same economics apply, but unlike hardware there are zero tariffs or import taxes to pay (not that there are many for hardware).

Re:Software will be outsourced just like hardware. (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840871)

And many companies don't realize what a problem it is to outsource overseas until their product is delivered and it is a buggy piece of junk or missed half the requirements.

Re:Software will be outsourced just like hardware. (3, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840909)

Yup. Interesting thing is that I often get hired afterwards to fix the stuff they outsourced. So... yay?

Re:Software will be outsourced just like hardware. (4, Interesting)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840905)

I've heard some interesting arguments for putting QA overseas, but keeping the main development folks local.

Basically, the idea is:

  • Your developers work their normal hours, and commit before they leave
  • The nightly build runs
  • The QA team (in a different time zone) does all of their necessary testing, and enters issues into your ticket systems (while the main developers are sleeping)
  • The developers come in the next morning (not having pulled an all-nighter), and check to see what the QA group found while they slept / went to the movies / had a social life / etc.

I've never participated in something like this, so I don't know if it's a great idea on paper that sucks in real life, but it seems on the surface that it could be useful.

Of course, you could probably get similar effects by outsourcing to more than one place with sufficient offset in their time zones.

It's all moot anyway.... (5, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840629)

... if we don't seriously fund education for the next generation, and stop thinking we can skimp on that commitment to pay for tax breaks for the rich and extended wars of choice.

It's an easy solution, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840779)

Manufacturing jobs are going to naturally come back to the US.

As our failed K-12 education system finally reaches up and erodes the quality of US universities, we'll become the 3rd world sweatshop to europe and asia.

Problem solved!

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840639)

I guess that shows how out of touch he is with the state of the IT industry. Software is being shipped abroad at breakneck pace. The nature of the medium means that the only disincentive to ship overseas is talent or support. Either of those can and will come up to standard very quickly. Manufacturing physical items that require shipping of raw and refined materials, and then shipping of the finished product is an easy to argue win. He would have pissed off his Chinese overlords, but he should have said, "We intend to bring manufacturing home by carbin taxing shipping methods, and instituting tariffs to balance the worker well-being in China."

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840919)

Crap... carbin? Seriously. Sorry for the offense.

Eliminate the H1 B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840657)

This program takes away US jobs and keeps wages down by flooding the market with cheap disposable labor. It only benefits the top 1%

poor guy never heard of iPhone and iPad? (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840667)

Although Apple didnt invent this category of devices, they figured out how to make and sell tons of them in the last five years. Hardware innovation is very much alive in the USA.

Paul Krugman correctly points out in today NY Times column that Apple has 45,000 high compensated US employees and 700,000 poorly compensated Asian sub-contractors. Apple does create lots of jobs, with mixed results.

Re:poor guy never heard of iPhone and iPad? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840693)

Bad news. The iPhone and iPad are not made in America.

Re:poor guy never heard of iPhone and iPad? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840843)

and well uh that's exactly the "sw part" that's done in usa - a bunch of designs and the sw to run on it. the manufacturing jobs for apple are at contractors, at samsung etc.

why not try to focus on high end chip manufacturing though? that's where the money is and it's not cheap labor intensive.

what? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840695)

Some good, some bad.

Increasing H1B? They should be decreasing H1B workers for more local long term employment.

Software patent reform/elimination: good++11

Dont defund DARPA: good

Release wireless spectrum: how does that affect software?

Supporting the software industry does not mean we don't need manufacturing. Not everyone can or wants to work in a creative field. Manufacturing is as important to national and economic security as software.

Even less tangible than software (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840713)

Seems that the future of USA is in trivial patents, copyrighting culture, making that lasting forever and pushing that to the rest of the world. Why develop if you already get paid if someone anywhere tries to use common sense to solve a problem in the only possible way?

firefighting app (1)

teefal (142948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840715)

I agree that software needs more focus, though it's harder to paint a quick picture in people's minds unless you say something like "make more apps."

I was actually very pleased that he used the example of firefighters downloading building plans on their way to a fire on their "PDA", since that's an app I actually built a few years ago (and current client ... http://getblazemark.com/ [getblazemark.com]

Focus depends on ease and effectiveness of narrative. If you can't get a hit in 10 seconds, it won't give the punch.

The right workers for the job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840725)

Manufacturing jobs do well over seas because companies can pay people 12 cents an hour with no bathroom breaks and the people will do the work.

Software jobs do well in the US because the people who have the skill sets want to(and can) come to America to pursue that life and job.

Well that and this country has coders and a large population who won't take manufacturing jobs. If anyone is serious about bringing jobs back to certain industries, vocational schools need to be supported and talked about again. I went to high school in the 90's and they were nothing but the punchline of a joke. I think Mike Rowe has a good TED talk about this.

Software... (2)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840737)

Software is one of the products most amenable to offshoring. Cost savings of manufacturing in China has to be balanced against logistic and shipping costs that fluctuate over time, but software has no such factor to offset. It's also a market rife with potential IP controversy (with patents, it's hard to get started before getting smacked by a big player with tons of patents, without patents it may still be hard to get started as a big player rips off your work, copyright can get messy regardless of patent situation).

We don't need more work visas, good local developers are in no short supply.

America's future can be in both (4, Interesting)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840741)

We just need to do away with old labor intensive methods of manufacturing.

If we mechanize enough then the labor costs become irrelevant and we can bring the manufacturing home.

To that end, we should invest heavily in additive manufacturing and other technologies that will let us leap frog the competition while rendering their cheap labor irrelevant.

This article is 100% right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840757)

Just look up my success story and how I turned around HP away from hardware and towards software! --Léo Apotheker

eh (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840809)

Here's my problem with this logic. There is an advantage to having near-full employment. Not everybody is born with the gray matter to make his or her living doing things that require a certain level of intellect. Even if they were, some people will underperform due to environmental reasons and not be in a position to do that sort of work. There needs to be something for them to do. I'm not sure the consumer driven service-economy is big enough to accommodate them.

Note: nothing in the above should be taken as my denigrating folks who aren't cut out for software development. My point is only that there's always going to be a wide spectrum of ability, and that to the extent we muck with our economy we should do so with that fact in mind.

Ya know what? (3, Funny)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840817)

There's only four things we do better than anyone else:

high-speed pizza delivery

We can have manufacturing here (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840823)

From these comments by Steve Jobs, and similar by other CEOs [huffingtonpost.com] , it seems to me that it could easily be profitable to have manufacturing in the US (and actually, it is profitable for some industries). His remarks seem to say that with some adjustments to the system, we would have a lot more factories in the US. Here's the quote from the article:

[Jobs insisted to Obama] that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where "regulations and unnecessary costs" make it difficult for them.

Presumably his point was that he wanted to build factories in the US, but regulations and unnecessary costs prevented him. I don't know what regulations those were, but certainly not all regulations are good.

Obviously we won't move all manufacturing back to the US, we'll never compete with Vietnam at textile manufacturing, but it seems reasonable that we can do a lot of manufacturing here.

Do We Really Want Those China Jobs? (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840849)

No, the Chinese assembly jobs aren't coming back, and if they do, they'd be done by machine. Even if they did come back for actual people, the only people who would want them would be immigrants. They aren't coming back and we don't want them. They're low paying crap jobs for unskilled workers. What we should be looking at are the more highly skilled jobs making the components that go to the assembling plant. Why are we focused on jobs going to China when Taiwan makes as much as they do and South Korea makes three and a half times what China does off the iPad according to The Economist [economist.com] ?

But software is easier to do anywhere vs. hardware (1)

Gavin Scott (15916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840869)

And not just in terms of hiring low-wage people in 3rd world countries. Ultimately there is no magical American advantage in smarts and intelligence that says we're going to have an advantage in inventing stuff.

Starting a manufacturing plant requires a huge investment, cooperation of the local government, etc., etc., but the next big thing in software can still come out of someone's garage, and that garage can be anywhere, even some "backwater" country where they don't even have garages. A couple motivated developers and a couple mangy PCs are all you need, and that's rapidly becoming available to a large percentage of our 7,000,000,000 people.

As an example of the internationalization of creative talent, take a look at CGSociety's GCChoice gallery on the front page at:

http://www.cgsociety.org/ [cgsociety.org]

which shows the latest images voted to be some of the best submitted by artists using computer graphics software. Just like software development, the tools to produce these images are available to anyone in the world with a computer, and that is reflected by the international nature of these images. Just a quick look today shows the most recent top images coming from: Slovakia, the UK, Sweden (x2), Mexico, Iran, China (x3), the USA (x3), Turkey, Korea, and Singapore.

Maybe we can use our big money to quickly buy up the talent when it appears, but the "next big sotware things" are ultimately going to come from all over the world.


America's future is establishing trends (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840873)

Honestly, that's about all we're good at - people in the rest of the world want some ephemeral connection to Hollywood, Disneyland, Motown, New York City, etc., so they buy some brand, watch some movies or listen to some music. Give the impression you can't be a hip, cool & happening fool without an iDoodad and they'll gobble it up.

High-level hardware not going anywhere (1)

steelcobra (1042808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840895)

As long as the really high-end fabs are US-based (Intel, TI, etc.) there will be high-tech clean room work that can't really be built elsewhere. Even Global Foundries is moving INTO the US for chip production.

Problem: making software doesn't scale (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840915)

If you have a traditional (with only a certain amount of the work done by robots) manufacturing base then the number of widgets you ship depends on the number of people you employ. One person makes X widgets per hour. That's great for mass employment, so long as the demand for widgets keeps up and nobody can produce X+1 widgets per employee per hour somewhere cheaper.

For software that model doesn't work. You still need designers, testers, sales people and all the traditional "overhead" people you had in order to get a manufacturing operation up and running. But once the software goes into production, the link between the number of units and the number of employees fails. That is very nice for customers (and for the bottom line), but it's not so great for the proportion of the population who are better at doing things manually than mentally.

If America's software "future" does come to pass - rather than come to pass it by - what is the future for all the ex-manufacturers who are now surplus to requirements? Or the next generation of non-softies for whom there are no prospects? You can't just ignore them and you can't just support them on the taxes from the people who do work in the software "future" - as those people can just up sticks and go somewhere with a lower tax regime.

Creativity and adventure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840921)

And, most of all, bring back the culture of creativity, of healthy achievement. Yesterday I watched a B&W movie about the round-the-world flight of the Graf Zeppelin, "from New York to New York", in 1929. Man, the interesting times those people lived in! The spirit of adventure, of risk taking (20 people flying in a hidrogen-filled airship over Siberia, Stalin, and 6000 feet high mountains that were not even on the map? Over the Pacific Ocean, in a storm with no working radio?) Yes, those magnificent men in their flying machines. There was also a woman on board the Graf Zeppelin, Lady Hay Drummond-Hay. These days people only try to get rich quick by trading stocks or developing puny apps for the iPhone. Everybody wants to be a manager; nobody really wants to build anything anymore.

Germany - USA (5, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840929)

How is it the Germans have a very solid manufacturing base and exporting even to China?
Is it because workers are treated better or is it because they are cheaper?

How is it that The Netherlands is the world's 2nd. largest exporter of agricultural products in value after the US, is it because the country is so blessed with it's climate and available space?

I'm convinced the USofA can be a profitable exporter of manufactered goods and produce providing their managers start looking at the long term instead of just this quarters profits.

Increase H1B's (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840941)


Just curious, with thousands of computer programmers out of work. Why import people to take jobs.

Oh wait, that's right. So big mega-companies working for Federal and state governments can received $150,000 for an H1B worker who will only receive $50,000.

Best of all, it'll drive the salary prices down. And ordinary American computer programmers who were making $70K-$100K are now forced to take jobs at $40K-$60K with less benefits.

But I'm happy, I now have a 100+ mile commute to make $15K less than I did 3 years ago.

Wrong mindset (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840955)

This is the wrong mindset to have. Realistically, copyright is an imaginary thing that people are realizing has no basis in reality for restricting. Only law keeps people from trading it, and people won't accept that over the long term. They accepted it with books for so long because there was still a real cost associated with the printing and production of them, but in this day and age that's no longer the case for digital goods.

The only way to keep a strong economy is to go back to things where the physical world enforces the duplication cost - not artificial laws. We have to make THINGS, not "IP", if we want to stay afloat.

Derp derp funding derp (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840973)

You don't need to rob Peter to incentivise Paul - all that means is that Pat at the IRS takes a cut too. Just cut the red tape that binds us, cut the number of government parasites that feed off of the body corporate, and we'll take care of the rest.

Ease Intellectual Property Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840977)

I understand the dream is that Americans can be more innovative, landscape-altering dreamers than their foreign competition. But this software argument largely ignores the ease with which software can be copied and distributed. Timely reverse-engineering or, worse, intellectual property theft could ruin swaths of this industry overnight.

software is nothing... (1)

rlwhite (219604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840983)

...if you can't trust the hardware that it's running on. I know not every device coming from overseas is bad, but there's a lot of cheap low quality or even deliberately subverted hardware out there that we should be leery of. Keeping some electronics manufacturing in the US helps keep others honest.

Short-sighted (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38840987)

It's important to retain all skilled industries, not just software. And there is plenty of hardware innovation left in America, just visit a Maker Faire sometime and see for yourself. With the new technologies like 3D printing, biohacking, flexible electronics, tattooed circuits, spintronics, and materials advances with graphene and carbon nanotubes, we are about to see an explosive return of manufacturing in this country unlike anything the world has ever seen before. It just won't be the mass-produced, Fordist kind we had before. Rather, it will more resemble the just-in-time model taken to an extreme.

It's going to be a very topsy-turvy, exciting time and unprecedented prosperity and freedom lie on the other side if we can avoid the violent reaction from the current powers-that-be.

programming jobs will also disappear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38840993)

because after the Singularity we will have machines do the programming (which probably also will be too difficult a task for the human mind)

Software doesn't scale to more jobs (1)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38841017)

The economies of scale favor the software industry more

For manufacturing, if you want to double your production, you will have to hire more people to work in factories. For software, if you can double your sales without hiring much additional help.

Not to mention that software requires highly skilled workers which not everyone has the capability to achieve. Software can also eliminate the jobs of unskilled and semi skill workers, which makes income inequality even wost.

Manufacturing helps bring jobs to unskilled and semi skilled workers which will benefit the working class along with white collared jobs.

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