Wait--EETimes has a budget for foreign correspondents? Journalism is doing better than I thought.
I was thinking about my current field, error correction. The math is ultimately based on the math of Galois, a Frenchman who died around 1830. BCH codes were discovered by a Frenchman. Turbo codes came from France. France was important in the development of ciphers. The field should've flourished there or in Bletchley Park after the war. But instead, it was here, in a confluence of Bell Labs, JPL, and Silicon Valley, that the field catalysed.
France is a first-world country with a decent economy and a long history of science and mathematics. Yet the culture has always led to a business environment which is unfriendly to tech. I work in an environment where it's easy to get laid off, yet I've done much better here in the long run than I would've in France, where the laws are supposedly more on the side of the worker and it's much more difficult to be let go. The tax system is more redistributive, and if you are an engineer or tech executive, you are more likely on the side doing the distributing, and would prefer operating your business elsewhere.
In other news, Trump on the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) used on new aircraft carriers:
"It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it's very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said–and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers. I said what system are you going to be– "Sir, we're staying with digital." I said no you're not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it's no good."
I see I forgot to mention the branding under which MinTech was established. It was designed to secure Labour's place in "The White Heat of the Technological Revolution". Apart from being uncomfortably warm, that would also fail the compulsory diversity test of modern political correctness. It didn't do much for the economy, either.
@resistion, indeed, big chip vendors are merging left and right, and there is no end in sight for on-going consolidation trends. But what about startups? Are we seeing a slowdown in startup numbers in the U.S., I wonder?
Hi, Victor. I think your assessment that "France probably falls somewhere in the middle" is right. Much of the foundation -- engineering talents, projects and entrepreneurs' will for starting up a company were already there before Business France coming into play to nurture and accelerate startups' activities.
I'd say it's never been a question of either or, but a balance between private and public sector efforts. A vibrant private sector built upon a political system of tolerance and free expression gives a society a lot weird, bad ideas but also stunning, transformative innovation. A government-led approach, on the other hand, often amasses resources at a scale unfathomable for the private sector, and can swing for the fences in a big way. The US is filled with success (and failures) of both approaches. The China of now and Japan of the 70's - 90's also come to mind, though at the other end of the spectrum from the US. France probably falls somewhere in the middle. Did not know about Macron's comment on how tech leaders should tune into the social ramifications of creative destruction, but was enheartened to hear.
@perl_geek, I appreciate your skepticism. I acknowledge top-down technology promotional activities haven't always worked. But the government support/backing has also proven effective in, for example, big space projects.
I am not holding my breath that the French government's backing would give birth to something equivalent to Google or Facebook. But a more pertinent question to the rise of Macron is not if the government can lead in the tech innovation, but if the government can alter the mindset among young entrepreneurs, nudging them to start up new projects of their own, especially in traditionally a rigid society like France.