heech wrote:I really don't understand this, so why don't you explain it to me? What really is the distinction between being first with a viable technology, and adopting it + refining it for a better commercial product? Other than being a point of pride used on internet debates, what is the relevance of being "first" to long term economic value + domination?
The difference is in the intellectual property. Creating economic value usually comes directly from optimization, but economic "domination" results from innovation and pioneering. You need to decouple the two.
So again, where does this so-called "innovation" come in in defining China or the United States' future trajectory?
It comes in terms of what you can do that the other guy can't do quickly even if he had enough money and manpower. Here's an example:
Can Japan or China tomorrow make the next generation of electronic chips, or develop the next big pharmaceuticals like US big pharma, or create a significantly better Silicon Valley ? Even if there is a will and plenty of money and support, there is no way. The intellectual property and infrastructure does not exist and can't be created in a few years or even decades.
In contrast, the US can tomorrow do anything and everything that East Asia can do today, because anyone with enough money and manpower can do optimization. The "way" is straightforward, if there is a will and the support.
Innovation comes from something more intangible and cultural. It can't be measured in dollars or man-hours.