• Abstract : This study is motivated by the observation that the state of health of the United States S&T enterprise seems to be simultaneously characterized by opposite assessments. On the one hand the enterprise is described as being especially vibrant, showing remarkable progress, a high level of innovation and confronted with great opportunities. At the same time the enterprise is described as showing disturbing trends in its workforce, rate of knowledge generation, rate of innovation and international standing. The purpose of the study is to shed light on how this conundrum has come about, and from this perspective to evaluate potential impacts of the underlying drivers of the conundrum on the technological positioning and ultimate national security of the United States. The process employed is to examine various aspects of the apparent innovation paradox by reviewing historical data regarding scientific and technical progress, and by analyzing how S&T innovations occur. In support of this, the concept of research and development (R&D) innovation space is introduced, and a few elementary models are presented for illustration. The study suggests that we have lost sight of some key realities. We have become so mesmerized by our enormously successful exploitation of past S&T breakthroughs that we have forgotten how they happened. Since society is primarily interested in the creation of functional capability (e.g., computing power), this memory lapse becomes problematic with respect to maintaining a pipeline of future breakthroughs. For example, the rapid advances in electronics and computer products over the past 50 years have created a general impression of continuous scientific breakthroughs. In reality, the breakthrough S&T innovations for electronics and computers took place in the 1940's and 1950's. The subsequent rapid advances in functional capability were the result of a brilliant and enormously successful program to exploit those early breakthroughs. ()
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  • The S&T Innovation Conundrum ()


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