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The Hypocrisy In Silicon Valley's Big Talk On Innovation

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the profits-over-progress dept.

Businesses 208

glowend writes "James Temple writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: 'In the fall of 2011, Max Levchin took the stage at a TechCrunch conference to lament the sad state of U.S. innovation. "Technology innovation in this country is somewhere between dire straits and dead," said the PayPal co-founder, later adding: "The solution is actually very simple: You have to aim almost ridiculously high." But for all the funding announcements, product launches, media attention and wealth creation, most of Silicon Valley doesn't concern itself with aiming "almost ridiculously high." It concerns itself primarily with getting people to click on ads or buy slightly better gadgets than the ones they got last year.' I feel like this may be true as more money and MBA types invade the Silicon Valley. There's a lot of 'me-too' startups with some of the best and brightest figuring out ways to sell me stuff rather the working on flying cars."

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208 comments

First Post (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140557)

And other bright minds are trying to find ways to get the first post.

Re:First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140561)

So ... how 'bout them niggers?

Re:First Post (2, Insightful)

tonywong (96839) | about a year ago | (#43140903)

Why hasn't /. checksummed the ACs IPs on their end so we can ignore specific Anonymous Cowards by IP address without knowing their IP? That's not innovation either but pretty much a simple solution where I don't need to know who is posting other than that I don't want to see their posts.

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141215)

Why hasn't /. checksummed the ACs IPs on their end so we can ignore specific Anonymous Cowards by IP address without knowing their IP? That's not innovation either but pretty much a simple solution where I don't need to know who is posting other than that I don't want to see their posts.

Maybe they assume that responsible adult people can handle reading a word they don't like. Free speech does mean other people might say things you don't like and free speech is more than worth it.

Or said responsible adults can set their threshold to either 0 or 1.

These are constructive solutions. Your whining isn't. Tell you what, first try doing what you can do about it. If that fails, then and only then do you have a valid complaint (for distorted values of "valid" that include "can't handle reading a mere word"). It's called being a man.

I mean, if you want a censored experience there are other sites for that. Perhaps you could try those.

Re:First Post (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about a year ago | (#43141269)

Free speech doesn't guarantee you a platform to speak.

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141409)

And that matters because...?

No, really, why does that matter? Are you trying to say that because free speech does not guarantee a platform, that you should be allowed to force platforms to censor speech that you disagree with?

Re:First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141507)

Free speech doesn't guarantee you a platform to speak.

That's a nice thought-free talking point. The moment slashdot.org accepts the HTTP connection to make a post, the platform to speak has already been established. If slashdot.org did not accept my connection, that would be within their rights. But they did and they have, so you see that your little thought-free talking point is completely irrelevant.

Care to do your own thinking instead of regurgitating slogans? Answer the other AC: why does that matter? Are you saying that you should be allowed to force platforms to censor speech you dislike?

If you are a garden-variety coward, you will go silent and not respond to this thread anymore because the only logical response would mean admitting you failed to think for yourself, and furthermore that you are wrong.

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141249)

Because IP addresses do not identify individuals.

Re:First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141291)

Why hasn't /. checksummed the ACs IPs on their end so we can ignore specific Anonymous Cowards by IP address without knowing their IP? That's not innovation either but pretty much a simple solution where I don't need to know who is posting other than that I don't want to see their posts.

A string of letters has no inherent power over you. It has only the power over you that you have chosen to assign to it. If somebody writing the word "nigger" hurts your feelings or angers you, blaming that person is a mistake. It is a failure to take responsibility for your own decision to assign such power to a mere two syllables. I assure you, getting your own house in order is much more feasible than trying to control what 7 billion other people say. Course, you don't get to feel self-important like you're getting your way over someone else, but that's not a good thing for you to have anyway. It reinforces everything wrong with your character.

"I'm offended" is an attempt to have power over what other people do, while pretending like this is somehow noble or serving a greater good. No thanks, I'd rather keep my freedoms than sell them to the weakest and most easily offended among us, thankyouverymuch.

Like the other AC said, if freedom is too scary or difficult for you and you cannot handle it, be honest with yourself and admit it. Don't try to dress it up as though you were the champion of decency, because there is nothing more indecent than trying to control others when they are doing no real harm. There are plenty of walled-garden types of sites where no one will ever say anything remotely offensive. In fact there are a lot more of those than there are sites like this. Go to a site that suits you instead of trying to fundamentally transform (damage) a site that its users are already very fond of.

TL;DR, Get over it.

Re:First Post (1)

redbeardcanada (1052028) | about a year ago | (#43141581)

Checksums aren't unique; multiple IP addresses could map to the same checksum result unless your checksum is the same size as your IP address, which would likely make it easy to figure out the IP address.

Re:First Post (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43140767)

You got that half right.

Re:First Post (1, Funny)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about a year ago | (#43140887)

Me-too first post!

Re:First Post (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141379)

And I posit that the so-called best and brightest only got that way due to being hired and given the opportunity to prove themselves over a significant period of time. Innovation and Silicon Valley are polar opposites for a two decades already. All I hear is screaming MBAs demanding more cheap labour from India in particular. I have worked with hundreds of the so-called best-and-brightest - they are mediocre at best and often lack the very skills on which the employment visa was issued. Poppycock and a box of rocks!

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140633)

That's all, really. This is bullshit.

how do you make money if you don't sell anything? (0)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43140665)

i mean i can't believe there aren't hordes of VC's just waiting to invest in companies that don't have any sales or revenues.

advertising has always been about targeting your ads. we gone from the 18-49 demographic to targeting advertising to as a few as a few dozen people. what's the point of marketing something to people who will never have an interest in buying your product?

silicon valley has always been about incremental improvements, periodic revolutions in tech followed by dozens of me too investments

Re:how do you make money if you don't sell anythin (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140859)

what's the point of marketing something to people who will never have an interest in buying your product?

One might think this was self-evident, but you'll never get a marketer to believe that not marketing anything to someone is a good idea.

Re:how do you make money if you don't sell anythin (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43141331)

I don't think you're getting it. Sales and marketing are, of course, important aspect. But the thing they are saying is instead of selling new things, they are selling old things (sometimes with incremental improvements) in new ways.

But this problem is much larger really. Everything from music to movies and TV shows are doing this sort of thing. How many super hero movies? The new territory seems to be fairy tales. Why aren't they writing really original stuff?

IT'S THE IT, STUPID (2, Interesting)

sanman2 (928866) | about a year ago | (#43141363)

The problem is that everyone now thinks that all technology is IT-related. IT has become the ultimate Groupthink. Everyone just wants to do the same old dotcom crap. And dotcoms have now become to IT what plastic dogshit became to manufacturing. IT has sucked away bright minds from every other field. Nobody wants to do anything difficult and risky anymore, because they're more comfortable settling into the same old IT slog.

Re:IT'S THE IT, STUPID (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141473)

Yeah, forget the information age, stuff mass communication and a computer in every garage, that's just kids stuff, REAL innovation is in COAL MINING...

I often wonder how many basement doors must be locked to produce such narrowly focused thinking followed by the masturbatory urge to poorly express half-thoughts in public discourse.

Re:IT'S THE IT, STUPID (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141619)

no it's as Sting should have said The russians love their children. but the Americans love money more. Ah but you argue what happens if your one of the many Americans who dont have money?

It's the one day my ship will come in and I will have shares in all those companies making money.

Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#43140679)

Look back at the innovative days of Silicon Valley and pick something, anything you can think of and think of what would happen if you were to try and perform the same thing again today. You could never do it, because overzealous IP has killed all American engineering innovation. Many products now spend a significant amount of their budget on patent attorneys and cross license costs. You simply cannot innovate in today's climate as things presently stand.

Some simple ideas that would help protect IP and turn the tide back for innovation:

A patent fee, every patent that is held by an organization (or it's parents organization) doubles in costs.
- Allows the small time inventory to register patents without undue cost while adding some measure of expense to patent warchest building.

A patent tax, every patent is taxed at a rate that makes large patent war-chests financially unfeasible.
- You can cripple IP trolls on this by increasing the tax for a patent that is not in active production.

Shortening the length of time that a patent is good for based on the type of patent.
- Decreasing a patent's shelf life to 5 years would probably do more to free up the IP logjams than any other thing.

Make RAND rates standardized for everyone and don't allow them to be offset.
- Everyone pays the same RAND rates and if your patent is essential than anyone can license it at a fixed and /reasonable/ rate.

End massive patent paydays like Apple's recent billion dollar court win.
- Reform the financial benefits for 'going nuclear' and seeking large court settlements for patent violations and make the penalties fixed.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (2, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about a year ago | (#43140771)

In all the discussions about the evils of the "private" sector one factor is conveniently overlooked: large institutional investors in the form of public sector pension funds which are desperately seeking excess profits to make good on political promises to government retirees. Most of these funds based their actuarial projections on permanent 8% growth, which anyone who knows what an exponent is can tell you is impossible. An investment that grows at a rate faster than the economy would eventually need to be more than 100% of the economy.

You want to know where the push to increase margins at all cost and quarter-by-quarter thinking came from? Large institutional investors demanding the impossible because somebody thought it was possible to legislate math.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (3, Informative)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about a year ago | (#43141083)

"public sector pension funds which are desperately seeking excess profits to make good on political promises to government retirees."

A pension is not a political promise. A pension, whether in the public or private sectors, is an agreement between employer and employees.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (-1, Offtopic)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about a year ago | (#43141135)

Politicians bribe government workers in exchange for votes with benefits that are paid for by money taken from other people who have no say in the matter.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (2)

SlippyToad (240532) | about a year ago | (#43141503)

Politicians bribe government workers in exchange for votes with benefits that are paid for by money taken from other people who have no say in the matter.

And now we've gotten down to the nadir of right-wing stupidity here on Slashdot.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (0)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about a year ago | (#43141511)

Exactly which part of what I said is not true?

The part where you equate ALL pensions... (1)

denzacar (181829) | about a year ago | (#43141837)

...with some HIGHLY specific case... which you've apparently forgotten to address in your post.

Instead, you chose to reply to "A pension, whether in the public or private sectors, is an agreement between employer and employees.", which is a perfectly valid but incomplete definition of a pension (it's a three party agreement) - with a rant about some case in the government sector, known only to you.
We have no idea what case you are talking about.
All we see here is you implying that ALL pensions are basically corruption and thievery.

As such, your post is not "the nadir of right-wing stupidity".
It's flamebait.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141783)

Politicians bribe government workers in exchange for votes with benefits that are paid for by money taken from other people who have no say in the matter.

Who has no say in the matter? Don't they vote too? Agreed that pensions are a problem but turning it into some kine of nefarious quid pro quo just makes you sound like a pundit. Let me guess, you always vote down one side of the aisle. If so, you are part of the problem.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about a year ago | (#43141807)

Let me guess, you always vote

No, I'm an atheist. I gave up on prayer along with other assorted superstitions.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43141455)

A pension, whether in the public or private sectors, is an agreement between employer and employees.

Not where I live (Pennsylvania). All sorts of laws trump what can be negotiated with certain types of occupations. For instance, if you hire a public school teacher, you must use the state pension system and you must give them tenure after 3 years. So in some cases, it is as much political as it is negotiated.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140807)

Did you even read the article?

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140819)

Bullshit. There is more innovation now than there has ever been. The fact that you can't freely copy it doesn't mean that things are unduly restricted, it just means you have an ass-backwards notion of what innovation means.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (3)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43140897)

Bullshit. There is more innovation now than there has ever been.

Most people aren't really impressed by 'innovation' in tracking you better to stuff more ads down your web browser.

They'd rather have those flying cars, which patents and lawyers make a near-impossibility even if the tech was affordable.

Innovation vs Invention (4, Interesting)

ron_ivi (607351) | about a year ago | (#43141201)

Related to the big business around owning IP is the distinction between Invention (pushing the bleeding edge in technology) and Innovation (squeezing out competitors using sly business tricks). http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2003/pulpit_20030904_000784.html [pbs.org]

But there is another issue here, one that is hardly ever mentioned and that's the coining of the term "innovation." This word, which was hardly used at all until two or three years ago, feels to me like a propaganda campaign and a successful one at that, dominating discussion in the computer industry. I think Microsoft did this intentionally, for they are the ones who seem to continually use the word. But what does it mean? And how is it different from what we might have said before? I think the word they are replacing is "invention." Bill Shockley invented the transistor, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce invented the integrated circuit, Ted Hof invented the microprocessor. Of course others claimed to have done those same three things, but the goal was always invention. Only now we innovate, which is deliberately vague but seems to stop somewhere short of invention. Innovators have wiggle room. They can steal ideas, for example, and pawn them off as their own. That's the intersection of innovation and sharp business.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141219)

This post deserves the most brilliant mother fucker on earth today award, and I ain't being sarcastic.
We need to remix all our shit or things are going to be dry save for a few gems out there.

Nobody want's to do jack shit because it ain't worth it now.

While you all have your opinions on why this is happening, I think it's because Oath breakers allowed banksters to create money from nothing, steal and kill right to this very day, in short the moment the US Constitution and Bill of Rights was undermined by what ever gaggle of words and bullshit fuckin lies

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43141273)

Some simple ideas that would help protect IP and turn the tide back for innovation:

A few others ideas:

- Make it easy and cheap to file defensive patents. So you own the idea, and nobody can stop you from exploiting it, but you cannot stop anyone else from exploiting it as well.

- Make the "patent tax" exponential. So it starts out small. The first few year you may pay, say, a $100 renewal fee. Then it doubles to $200/yr, then $400/yr .... The result will be that bad patents are abandoned after a few years, while good patents earn money for both the innovator and the government that grants the monopoly.

Defensive publication (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43141645)

Make it easy and cheap to file defensive patents. So you own the idea, and nobody can stop you from exploiting it, but you cannot stop anyone else from exploiting it as well.

Write up your description and claims as if you were going to apply for a patent, but do not file it with the Patent Office. Instead, publish it as a white paper and notify the major tech news sites in your field. Congratulations: you've just made a defensive publication [wikipedia.org] . If you publish details of how to build your idea, then you've established your inventorship. After the date of publication, if anyone else applies for a patent on ideas that you've published, the application is invalid because it is not novel. And contrary to some people's claims, the recent transition in U.S. patent law to a "first to file" rule does not change novelty.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141411)

Typical Slashdot bullshit. Patents got us from before the scientific revolution to the moon. But because your stupid fucking operating system rips ideas off everyone else, you want to chuck the whole fucking system - give the crown jewels to china - because your idea of innovation is to copy fucking everything that someone else does. Innovation happens when inventers are rewarded. Not when inventions are copied by open source retards who can't actually come up with novel ideas themselves.

Re:Innovation has been killed by overzealous IP (3, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#43141497)

*sigh* Another capitalist-idiot-pig who doesn't understand Civilization is built upon the sharing of ideas.

Who invented Mathematics, Trigonometry, Boolean Algebra, Computer Science, Calculus, Language, again? Oh wait, they are LONG DEAD and we _all_ benefit from them sharing their discoveries without having to pay idiotic patent / license fees.

Church, Turing, Newton, Leibniz (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43141739)

Who invented Mathematics, Trigonometry, Boolean Algebra, Computer Science, Calculus, Language, again?

Boolean algebra is named after George Boole [wikipedia.org] . Alonzo Church and Alan Turing independently formalized computer science by introducing machines capable of verifying assertions in first-order logic and showing why it is necessarily imperfect. Calculus was also independently invented by two people: Newton and Leibniz.

Oh wait, they are LONG DEAD

We benefit because unlike trademarks, and unlike copyrights since 2003, patents expire.

No, IP is minor. Manufacturing loss is major. (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about a year ago | (#43141549)

The biggest difference is that the truly big inventions aren't just software. They use software but are associated with sharp hardware developments.

The truly big things require exploiting new physics and chemistry. 6 person startups of the Proper Profile of Startups (24 to 31 year old Stanford CS graduates) don't do this well. New physics requires large labs, many years of work, and listening to old men with European accents. Return on capital is much lower for the owners of physical atom-based companies compared to bit-based companies, but the return to societal prosperity is substantially higher. Hence rational capitalism dispenses with investing in such atom-based companies.

Also the golden era of Silicon Valley was paid for by investment for military hardware, and not venture capitalists.

When a small 2 bedroom starter home is 500K+ (5, Insightful)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | about a year ago | (#43140681)

There is no room for failure. Without failure, and the ability to take risks, you'll get a lot of me too ish. Silicon Valley thrived when it was cheap to fail, now that it nolonger is you need to look to other places. I'd expect something more radical outta Detroit (where the buildings are almost free) or Kansas City, with the Google Fiber, than the Valley.

Re:When a small 2 bedroom starter home is 500K+ (4, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43140833)

A two bedroom home for $500k? OMG tell me where! That's practically free by Bay Area standards.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT! (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | about a year ago | (#43141189)

http://www.redfin.com/CA/Newark/4931-Bosworth-Ct-94560/home/1763349

Re:BELIEVE IT OR NOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141451)

Yeah, I'd be so psyched about living right on top of the Hayward fault, getting stuck on the bridge every day (or Hwy 237 backup), and being next to all the crime in the East Bay.

I must say they staged it nicely though.

If you're single, rent as close to work as possible. Take you down payment and sock it into some REITs. Do you know how much the dividends from $500k of reasonably risky equity REITs are? You can insure them with put options/collars if you want to get sophisticated, but over the long haul you can just average into these things and it's generally low risk. Utilities are like that too; but do you own DD and check on it once in a while. Also, you can move much more easily. I live in Redwood City. It's not the greatest place, but it's close to everything and my rent for a nice 1-bed is $1300/mo. $500k of REIT is more than I need to generate dividends and pay the rent.

Best of all, if the big one hits (and I don't get killed), I just walk away from the house that's red-tagged, live at the Red Cross shelter for a while, and find a new apartment. It's the landlord's problem.

$500k of debt on teh fault? No thanks.

Re:When a small 2 bedroom starter home is 500K+ (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43141415)

A two bedroom home for $500k? OMG tell me where! That's practically free by Bay Area standards.

Take that 10th Ave exit from I-280 and head south, past "Little Saigon", into the Hispanic areas of south San Jose. You can find plenty of houses for less than $500k.

Re:When a small 2 bedroom starter home is 500K+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141803)

Except no sensible person wants to live in either Detroit or Kansas City. ESPECIALLY Detroit.

I was casually browsing real estate in Detroit a couple weeks ago. Mansions in Indian Hills are $50,000. $50K. We're talking HUGE houses (4,000+ square feet). That's not even imaginable in California context even in the Southeastern part of the State - i.e., Mojave, Palm Springs, extreme desert - where real estate is relatively inexpensive. Anything that is remotely coastal in California is just major, major bucks. That is life in the Golden State.

I live in the Bay Area and it's very challenging to find rents below $2,000/mo for a 3BR house or apartment and I am in the North Bay above Marin County (which of course as America's "richest zip code" is VERY expensive) where rents are lower but still not what I would call affordable unless you're making very little money and can get into subsidized housing (a long and tedious process for the terminally impoverished, which thankfully we're not).

I've often pondered moves to Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada where homes are half or a third the cost of homes in California but I just can't get over the hump of the weather - either too hot or too cold (I've heard those are called "seasons"). The weather in general within 100 miles of the coast of California is very, very hard to beat (unless you live in Hawaii but then you want to talk expensive).

I was born here, I've lived here most of my life, and have visited many places around the country. While I could adapt probably to other parts of the country I don't think I'd ever really like living somewhere else and I think I'd feel trapped because the cost of moving BACK to California is very high when you've lived elsewhere.

In short, I'll take the insane rents / mortgages in trade for a certain kind of climate, geography, and general economic opportunity that is very hard to beat.

Is that wrong? (5, Interesting)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about a year ago | (#43140711)

Computers have been getting "slightly better than last year" for a few decades now.

Because of that, I'm now running a Quad i7 with a Geforce and a couple terabytes of SSD+HDD rather than a IBM PC with a monochrome adapter and two floppies.

I'm not complaining.

Re:Is that wrong? (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43140753)

Yeah, I have 5 floppy drives now. Progress is great!

Re:Is that wrong? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140889)

Yeah, I have 5 floppy drives now. Progress is great!

I thought we were talking computational technology, not biochemical and mutagenic.

Re:Is that wrong? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43141101)

Computers have been getting "slightly better than last year" for a few decades now.

Yes, but that sort of innovation is not the kind that gets VC's excited or makes headlines. More people hear about Google's or Facebooks latest geegaw than about MuGFET's, hi-k dielectrics, the challenges of the latest semi-process or improvements in OLED fab. That kind of innovation is largely done by big companies like Intel and Applied Materials. Personally I love small companies, but if you look at the economics, it makes most of that sort of important on-going development is done by large companies. Gone are the days when Fairchild Semi or Intel could get started for a few million. Maybe in a completely different field, but not there.

It's less an article about (5, Insightful)

Loughla (2531696) | about a year ago | (#43140745)

Silicon valley, and more about economic theory. Do free-markets drive the world in the right direction, or does the government? This, as in most things, seems to boil down to a compromise.

We need agile markets, able to open and close companies overnight, therefore allowing for innovation, failure and re-birth. BUT, we also need big, slow-moving government to keep those businesses from harvesting short-term profits and dumping losses on investors/governments.

The problems that we have today (a bit off topic here) are related to business being tied a bit too close to government. Why do we have the lowest congressional approval rating that I can remember? Because they all seem to be bought and sold by the same companies. In reality, though, they're not outright bought and sold, they're just trying to secure a sweet, sweet consulting deal after they retire from government. But I digress.

This article isn't about the hypocrisy in silicon valley in particular, and more about the hypocrisy in people lauding free-market capitalism.

Re:It's less an article about (4, Interesting)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#43141061)

And you have hit the nail on the head here. The problem is crony capitalism that is where we are heading too (and in many places already are). The excessive protection to big business IP and interests is what hinders any kind of innovation, and, as time progresses, laws keep being enacted to give them more and more power. There is no more need to innovate when you can control the markets by force of law. You can just slow crawl and make lots of cash.

Re:It's less an article about (3, Insightful)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#43141177)

We need government to stop companies from dumping their losses on government? That makes no sense. How about we take wealth and power away from the government so they are in no position to cover losses or hand out favors at all?

Imagine a federal government that was given 8% of annual GDP (roughly $1.2 trillion) to perform its duties and constrained by a balanced budget law. Let's see them do an $800 billion bailout of their banker friends on that budget.

Re:It's less an article about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141257)

Man you're an idiot, without government you just have de-facto dictatorship. i.e. money still rules. The idea that you can 'turn back government' is a lie they tell sheeple like you to keep your feelings against the governent instead of becoming anti-business/capitalist.

Those with the gold make the rules.

Re:It's less an article about (2)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about a year ago | (#43141583)

$1.2 trillion federal + state + local == anarchy?

Re:It's less an article about (4, Insightful)

SlippyToad (240532) | about a year ago | (#43141571)

e. How about we take wealth and power away from the government

Because then you're just giving that power to other people who will rape you and pillage from you and destroy everything you have for a quick buck.

The government is us. One way to make sure it actually represents us is to not be lazy about using your right to vote, and informing yourself as to what is going on and why.

Usually when I encounter your kind of thinking, I find people who are lazy in the brain, and therefore wildly misinformed.

Imagine a federal government that was given 8% of annual GDP (roughly $1.2 trillion) to perform its duties and constrained by a balanced budget law

Imagine a nation in complete collapse and disarray because their government can't do anything and cronies and bullies run it all for their own personal benefit.

I notice people like you get the most upset when it looks like someone else is benefiting from government services. Someone with a particular tone of skin color, in point of fact, who you feel should be out in the fields working harder.

I notice this even more amusingly when for example last week the POTUS cut white house tours short and all the right-wing jeering drooling idiots all started screaming. Apparently, cutting spending is only important when it's not for you.

So, you can pardon me if I don't take your POV very seriously. I can tell you've never, ever, ever thought it through.

Re:It's less an article about (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43141621)

Imagine a federal government that was given 8% of annual GDP (roughly $1.2 trillion) to perform its duties and constrained by a balanced budget law.

We don't have to imagine that government: that's exactly what we had in the Hoover administration. Herbert Hoover, contrary to popular belief, responded to the stock market crash of 1929 ... by vigorously pursuing completely successful efforts to keep the federal budget balanced. The economy after a few years of that was why the country elected Franklin Roosevelt.

Re:It's less an article about (5, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about a year ago | (#43141717)

It's rare to see someone post something so perfectly opposite of the truth.

Herbert Hoover spent over $3 billion via the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to bail out Wall Street cronies, instead of letting them go bankrupt as Warren Harding did in 1920. That's why the 1930s depression did not end until a significant fraction of Europe's population was murdered and their industrial production destroyed while the 1920 depression only lasted 18 months.

Unsurprisingly, Herbert Hoover was the Treasury Secretary in 1920 who argued for bailouts at the time but was ignored. When he was in charge and able to implement exactly what he advocated a decade before the Great Depression was the result.

Re:It's less an article about (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43141611)

1. Define 'right direction'. Basically anything you can come up with, there will be a huge number of people that will not care or vehemently disagree.

2. Are you seriously implying that government has a long term outlook while businesses do not? It's not even 2 years now that the politicians start their quest of the next election cycle. Of-course inheritance taxes pretty much destroyed the long term prospects for private companies while government created inflation prevents people from thinking in the long term completely in a more general way.

Re:It's less an article about (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#43141661)

You describe crony capitalism which is made possible by exessively big and powerful government and then you blame free-market capitalism. I think you are making a classic mistake of confusing support for capitalism with support for capitalists.

The Hypocrisy In Silicon Valley's Big Talk .. *OR* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140759)

When capitalism runs a muck

Whose fault is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140779)

Blame the VCs -- real technology innovation is costly and slow

Blame the entrenched enterprises and government -- the first group want to stifle innovation and the second empowers them to do so via the patent system

Blame the entrepreneurs -- for not taking the risk of innovating in spite of the above

Blame ourselves -- for criticising those remaining few who try and fail

No shit, you don't say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140785)

I've been saying this for years now. I realize that there's the inevitable law of diminishing returns when it comes to relative technology improvements we meager humans notice in daily life, but in my opinion (whatever that's worth), we're no where near seeing meager real-life returns and there's a lot of innovation most could use in their daily lives that can still be done.

Many companies have found a nice saturation/optimization point where consumers are happy repurchasing products with minimal investment on real innovation/improvement... maximizing ROI. That's sort of the goal of a for profit business, is it not? What I find astounding is that competition hasn't come in to sweep the carpet under these stagnant groups, but I'm guessing it's hard to gain entry into these markets to compete and you'll probably die trying, so the risk of competition is minimal to none. Plus there's brand loyalty and relatively unconcerned consumer market swaying stagnation with their buying power.

Maybe I'm very wrong, I really truly hope so. Everyone wants to make a buck, progress be damned. The entire state of affairs is pitiful if you ask me.

What? (1)

Tridus (79566) | about a year ago | (#43140831)

Sending a URL using a modem only with smartphones isn't innovative enough for you?

Man, people are so demanding.

Forget about flying cars ... (3, Insightful)

pitchpipe (708843) | about a year ago | (#43140847)

There's a lot of 'me-too' startups with some of the best and brightest figuring out ways to sell me stuff rather the working on flying cars.

The flying car was your grandfather's future, and it now sounds weird to use it as a symbol for the future.

The flying car is a symbol for a future that never was.

Re:Forget about flying cars ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140959)

Pfft, that future is now [terrafugia.com] !!1!

Re:Forget about flying cars ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141137)

The flying car is a symbol for a future that never was.

Give me the self-driving car. So I can reclaim the 1000 hours/year I waste physically guiding my car. I bought a luxury car so I would hate it less, but using it to "experience the drive" is like using an abacus to "experience the math". Fuck that. I have better things to waste my life on.

Now give me another self-driving car without any seats. No airbags, no overengineered crumple zones, no creature comforts. Just a cheap autonomous box on wheels for one-tenth the price. That's the 'car' that will pick up my drycleaning, my groceries. That's the car that will save local businesses, letting them compete with Amazon on convenience and beat them on speed.

That's my future.

Re:Forget about flying cars ... (5, Interesting)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about a year ago | (#43141233)

This needs to be +5, Awesome. It's exactly right.

Flying cars are DOA until we have self driving cars. On the way home last week, I saw a 5 car pile up. Nose to tail, every one. How did that happen? Either some moron managed to plow into the last car in a row hard enough to drive them all together (been there, done that as one of the hit cars, not the moron) or a chain of morons was all following so closely they couldn't stop as the first moron plowed into stopped cars.

These are the people the "flying car" crowd want flying. I don't even want these people driving, let alone driving over my head at 150 mph or more. These people can have flying cars when we have self-driving flying cars, and never before or the carnage will be obscene.

Re:Forget about flying cars ... (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | about a year ago | (#43141597)

or a chain of morons was all following so closely

This is usually the cause of a pileup. Most people follow too closely. And then get mad at you when you have to stop.

Even funnier is when they tailgate me for 8 miles on the freeway, angrily whip past me as if how dare you get in my way, and then Indiana's finest pull them over because it's called the fucking "no-fly-zone" and I'm following the speed limit because I do not have $150 to give away today.

I always am reminded of this when people start bitching about speed limits. You guys can have your no-speed-limits freeways when you fucking learn not to tailgate.

Re:Forget about flying cars ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141737)

I dont want to be driving anymore. Driving is a chore for me. Just a way to get from here to there. I like the gp bought a nicer car but that only helps so much. I moved closer to work. That helped a lot... Flying would be nice as I wouldnt have to go 5 mins out of the way to make a left hand turn just to put me on a small road into a round-about so I can finally get to work. I can literally see my workplace from my house but it takes me 10 mins to get there due to road layout.

Also when they get flying cars is the day I get a delorian and convert it :)

Yeah, yeah (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140865)

If you want to really innovate on a fundamental scale you probably wouldn't be writing software that runs on today's (or next year's) servers, desktops, web browsers, tablets, or phones. I mean, that's obvious. But then you'd probably be scruffing about for money, unless you were independently wealthy like Bill Gates, or were tied in with someone who was.

Patents and Regulation (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about a year ago | (#43140915)

What do you expect, with the business environment that we are working. They would work on the flying cars if they thought they could sell any of them.

Innovation != Invention (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a year ago | (#43140947)

Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.

Innovation != Invention. Innovation is, by definition, easy. Innovation is the blue collar work of the intellectual realm.

Re: Innovation != Invention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43140987)

Quit saying "by definition". Show me a definition that says it easy.

Link please.

Re: Innovation != Invention (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a year ago | (#43141709)

I just did. Want to see it again?

Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.

Invention means you look at the world around you and try to deduce how the hell you can make this work.

Innovation means you take someone elses already documented invention and reuse it, stepwise refinement style.

It's the difference between the guy who invented the arched doorway and the guy who said "Hey, you could use this to make a window!"

History shows big gambles often fail (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43141025)

Newton, Xerox Star, Next, Intel's iAXP432, Xanadu Project, the Windows 2001 Tablet, Japan's HD analog TV R&D project, that company that tried to make an online MS-Office competitor with Java applets, and many other "bold" ideas that were ahead of their time failed.

The market and technology has to be "just almost ready" for stuff to take off. If you are too early, then your configuration and vision are probably all wrong. It takes trial and error with consumers and users to tune products right. The first shot at something bold is usually just too quirky or too expensive.

Palm Pilot did Newton better than Newton, and smart devices improved up the ladder through Blackberry until they were ready for mainstream with iPhone having the right mixture of features and ease of use. (Sorry fans, but Newton sucked from a practicality angle.)

And the few times big gambles get wings, competitors usually make a better run at the idea and the payoff is not big enough to justify the up-front risk. VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet is just such an example. After about 3 years of strong sales, Lotus came along and did it better, faster, and cheaper (gambling on IBM PC instead of CPM), and VisiCalc went belly-up. (Software patents didn't really exist back then, which will be another problem with very new ideas.)

In investing, you usually don't want to take a big risk unless there is a big potential payoff. But history shows for big-leap projects, the risks are big but usually not the payoffs. Incremental innovation looks like a better mix of risk and reward to rational investors who study history.

Re:History shows big gambles often fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141171)

The first 123 was neither better nor faster than VisiCalc. It was just marketed better.

Re:History shows big gambles often fail (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#43141607)

It's tough to imagine Lotus marketing a product "better" than someone else. The first "Excel" was certainly no better than Lotus 1-2-3, but MS managed to market Lotus into obscurity.

Re:History shows big gambles often fail (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43141775)

Either way, VisiCalc stumbled and was short-lived despite being the inventor of the idea.

One of the reasons I've read that Lotus beat VisiCalc is that it was difficult to get CPM machines to use more than about 40K to 50K of RAM. Once hooked on spreadsheets, companies wanted them bigger.

Lotus focused much of their efforts on the then new IBM PC market, and IBM PC's would let Lotus-123 use up to almost 640K of RAM. VisiCalc focused more or less evenly on CPM, Apple, and PC. VisiCalc went wide, Lotus went deep.

By the time VisiCalc realized that the PC architecture was the future of business computing, it was too late.

Then Microsoft kind of did the same thing to Lotus: moved the industry to Window 3.x, and Lotus was too late to Windows, leaving only Excel.

Live by the platform, die by the platform.

Re:History shows big gambles often fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141435)

And that doesn't even get into basic science which made all this technology possible but that returned 0$ to the inventors. Modern CPU physics includes quantum effects so their engineers need to understand that, yet there is no fee for using quantum mechanics. Good thing we've got public money going into that stuff.

Re:History shows big gambles often fail (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43141799)

yet there is no fee for using quantum mechanics.

God is indeed charging for it. He's just generous enough to let you wait until the afterlife to pay up.

Oh, will you give up on the flying cars already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141045)

Yes, it would be wonderful? No, it wouldn't, because you'd have idiots crashing the things everywhere. Half the problem is getting the things off the ground in an efficient, near-vertical-takeoff configuration without making them so short-range and having such high energy requirements that they aren't practical. The other half of the problem is making them *remotely* safe for the average person (rather than a fully-qualified pilot). Both of these are *huge* technical challenges, and I'd argue the second one is a lot more challenging, because it means making the vehicles practically autonomous. It's hard enough with cars on a 2D surface ground car. Going 3D in airspace is a lot harder. The software isn't ready. And I don't mean "toss a GPS in it and some route planning and we're done" kind of approach, but the kind of thing where even if someone went nuts and decided they wanted to ram one of them into their ex-wife's house, you couldn't actually do it -- i.e. not only "fool-proof", but "malicious-proof". It just ain't going to happen.

This isn't meant as an anti-innovation rant. Innovate away. And the article is right that figuring out new ways to trick us into parting with our money via marketing isn't real "innovation". On the other hand, there are plenty of more practical problems that deserve some innovation and could make the world a better place besides flying cars.

What happend with trillions lost in Silicon Valley (5, Interesting)

PythonM (2184020) | about a year ago | (#43141099)

Millions of people lost their real (not paper) money "investing" in Silicon Valley companies. For example AOL’s market value went from $226 billion to about $20 billion now.

The money did not evaporate like water, so who got the $$$ that millions of american lost by "investing" in Silicon Valley companies?

Re:What happend with trillions lost in Silicon Val (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141447)

Most of that money never existed in the first place.

Here's a simple example. Ten friends start a company. They each put $100 in, and they each get one share. Total valuation is $1,000.
One of the partners finds a buyer willing to pay him $150 for his share. The company is now worth $1,500. But only $1,050 worth of _real_ money has ever changed hands.

Stock markets value companies at price last paid for a share x number of shares. But until all shares are bought at that price, most of that money doesn't exist.

Re:What happend with trillions lost in Silicon Val (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141603)

Yet what happened to the 1050 when the whole company 'went away'? Money does not just 'go away'. The imaginary bit is the 450.

And I just realized slashdot ids are up in the 2 million range?!...

Re:What happend with trillions lost in Silicon Val (2)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#43141499)

"...who got the $$$ that millions of american lost by "investing" in Silicon Valley companies?"

The big banks who did the under-writing of the IPOs for these over-hyped companies and the early shareholders (sometimes the same banks doing the IPO) who sold out before the reality of the company's prospects became apparent.

Re:What happend with trillions lost in Silicon Val (3, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43141575)

going from say $10 billion market cap to $226 billion does not mean someone invested that money into the company. it just means people bid up the price of the shares based on beliefs of the company's future earnings and ability to pay dividends. chances are only a small percentage of shares held actually changed hands.

same thing with the fall in valuation. people dump their shares at lower and lower prices and the market cap goes down. not like people lose real money

Re:What happend with trillions lost in Silicon Val (4, Interesting)

ottothecow (600101) | about a year ago | (#43141753)

That money went to the last person to sell the share to the person who lost all of their money.

Maybe that person said "this is crazy, I gotta get out", or maybe they rode the tide all the way up to $226 billion and said "I want to buy a house with my proceeds, gotta sell". or they noticed that rapid gains in the tech sector had left their asset allocation unbalanced so they said "Gotta rebalance--sell half the tech and buy some other sectors and a few bonds"

The value of the company evaporated, but the money was already gone. The people who kept their money aren't that different from the people who were left holding the stock when it fell...it's just what happens when you toy with a bubble.

Re:What happend with trillions lost in Silicon Val (1)

witherstaff (713820) | about a year ago | (#43141821)

I'll agree with you on the dotcom bubble. AOL may be a bad example. AOL managed to rack up enough money to buy Time Warner before being spun back off as a stand alone company again years later so stock value doesn't tell the whole story. Smart move to take the hyped stock value to buy real assets. Sure even Time Warner said it was a bad idea but they're still around. It wasn't a crash and burn the likes of webvan or PETS.com or all the other huge chunks of money thrown away.

Ah, Peter Thiel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141149)

I'm glad he's putting his money where is mouth is. But ironically, he made his billion on a low-hanging fruit like PayPal; and it was sold off after about 4 years.

Let the millionaires and billionaires take the risk; for a schmoe like me, "risk" means having unprotected sex and having a second child which we cannot afford.

Trivial Drival (1)

Luthair (847766) | about a year ago | (#43141199)

It seems to me that most of the 'startups' covered are based around trivially simple ideas (camera filters, decisions, etc) and a polished mobile application.

This seems to be the formula for media coverage (since the tech press largely lacks a technical background and can't comprehend or write about anything more complicated) and it this is apparently the formula to get bought by one of the tech companies.

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141387)

My obsolete smartphone fits in my pocket and has the computing power of Cray X-MP. We have the technology to read your entire genome in hours. We can index billions of web pages and retrieve them by keyword, ordered by relevance, in a millisecond. We can create realistic digital special effects, in real time, on personal computers. We have several private companies with satellite launch capabilities. Whoever thinks technological innovation isn't still happening is just not looking.

innovation lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141403)

The only innovation a jewish money changer knows is how to help himself to other peoples money with a good enough story

people are getting out of finance, and getting their hands dirty again, turns out fucking over your communities for a bullshit story only works short term.

Silicon Valley is so yesterday. (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year ago | (#43141425)

As TFA says, the MBA types have killed the innovation that laid the golden egg.

Re:Silicon Valley is so yesterday. (2)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#43141731)

Well said. Seems like the natural evolution of a company is to keep moving marketers and bean counters into positions of authority, gradually killing whatever innovative capacity the company had.

They would sell you a flying car if they could (1)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | about a year ago | (#43141527)

Capitalism is supposed to be beneficial for mankind in that advancing technology is supposed to be profitable, which is the reason for the recent incentives to privatize the space industry. Of course the link between innovation and profits isn't direct, so oftentimes innovation will steer off course towards designing a more visible animated billboard for the underside of that flying car rather than increasing redundancy in its lift components.

Paypal (3, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | about a year ago | (#43141555)

Max Levchin, co-founder of Paypal, is right. Silicon Valley should instead focus on providing services that treat their customers like dirt and everyone hates, like Paypal.

When you punish anything, you get less of it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141761)

When you punish people for taking risks or innovating (in the form of legal restrictions, IP suit craziness, taxes, legal potential for your industry to be suddenly nationalized, etc), you get less of it. People everywhere, including Silicon Valley, are engaging in low risk or no-risk operations because they are trying to reduce their overall risk. Business is risky enough without having the extra governmental and legal risks added on top.

Bwahaha... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43141817)

You clowns are just figuring this out now? This is been going on for some time. It's mostly toys being sold to fools. Real innovation stalled, in it's place are a billion web monkeys laboring to produce applications that don't explode in your face since they are built on some of the most bass-ackwards technology every produced.

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