July 14, 2023
For decades, the United States has been a trailblazer of innovation – it put a man on the moon, invented the electric lightbulb, and mapped the human genome, leading to scientific and medical breakthroughs that were once unimaginable. Yet, this history of success is under threat from policymakers in Washington, D.C.
At The James Madison Institute’s (JMI) Center for Technology and Innovation, we believe these technological innovations have been and will continue to be critical to the future of our democracy, the sovereignty of our nation and the driver of our economic liberties. American technological innovations underpin the principles that have made our nation the most prosperous in human history and an economic powerhouse.
Although the United States remains a technological pioneer, other countries – particularly China – are swiftly gaining ground, recognizing that being at the forefront of tech innovation results in greater military might, a more robust economy and significant global soft power.
Now, amid the current technological revolution that has seen the development of self-driving cars, AI and quantum computing advancements, 5/6G communications and more, policymakers will be faced with ever more consequential decisions. Washington must get this right and stay true to the free-market policies that propelled the United States from a colonial backwater into a global superpower – economically, technologically and militarily.
If United States policymakers fail to get it right and pursue heavy-handed regulatory policies that needlessly target emergent technologies that are responsible for transformative leaps, it will slow our economy and weaken our position as a global leader – leaving an opportunity for China to take over.
In many ways, this is already happening. As Congress failed to renew the Federal Communication Commission’s Spectrum authority, the invisible radio frequencies that wireless signals travel over, China has developed a clear strategy that is enabling its state-owned companies to connect its citizens to high-speed internet and allow its increasingly aggressive military to become a threat to Western interests. Similarly, in the world of artificial intelligence, China leads while U.S. lawmakers debate whether computer systems are biased.
Here in the Sunshine State, free-market policies and light-handed government are the foundation for our state’s growth and success, often resulting in companies and individuals relocating to Florida. South Florida, in particular, has emerged as a tech hub in recent years, drawing venture capital funding and talent from across the country. While the People’s Republic of California lost almost 200,000 residents in 2020, Florida’s population grew by 2 percent. Americans truly are voting with their feet.
Our tech entrepreneurs and innovators recognize the opportunity presented in Florida and are investing millions of dollars to support programs related to artificial intelligence, data analytics and other emerging technologies. Our universities rank in the top 20 most innovative and most utility patent awarded in the United States. Our college towns like Tallahassee rank in the top 20 tech towns in America for its vibrant business climate with advanced research and development in local universities and entrepreneurial energy.
In addition, private institutions across the state are leading the charge to develop career and technical paths that will place the next generation of Floridians ahead of the curve. All of this adds up to an economic impact of nearly $80 billion. Florida also ranks third in technology job growth, adding more than 22,000 new tech jobs in 2022, taking the top seat for year-over-year increases in new tech businesses established.
In 2023, Florida is not just the Sunshine State, it’s also the innovation state. Florida has become a national leader in prioritizing technology, innovation, research and development and entrepreneurship – and the country’s biggest deterrent to a technological future built by China.
Policymakers must continue to prioritize U.S. technological innovation. These advancements not only stimulate economies and improve consumer welfare but also drive progress in defense technology, cybersecurity, and improve people’s lives across the globe. America must continue to be a trailblazer in this arena, or we will cede this space to other actors with value systems much different than our own.
This can only happen when Washington gets out the way and embraces the lessons from Florida’s success story.