Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ex-CEO Looks at US Technology Policy INTERVIEW

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ex-CEO Looks at US Technology Policy INTERVIEW

Article excerpt

JOHN YOUNG, who retired as president of Hewlett-Packard Company two weeks ago, has spent about 10 years trying to interest Republican presidents in a national technology policy.

Now, the lifelong Republican has found a sympathetic ear from a Democrat. Mr. Young has played an important role in shaping President-elect Clinton's technology policy and is frequently mentioned as a potential cabinet member. In a telephone interview, he talked about national technology policy:

Do Democrats and Republicans agree we need a technology policy?

Yes. In fact, the Bush administration worked through the interagency process the idea that working on generic, pre-competitive technologies is a legitimate interest of public policy. And that's a landmark change from where we've been since World War II.... My concerns there are more the `concertedness' of the {Bush} effort.

Does the Clinton technology policy make more sense?

Eminent sense, since it builds on all of the ideas I've been working on for most of the last 10 years.

Doesn't technology policy really mean government will pick winners and losers in the marketplace?

Typically, what's meant by picking winners and losers is much closer to the product end. {For example:} "We ought to support getting back into the consumer electronics business, so let's make a high-definition television set and we'll get the government to fund it." Now that's what I call "picking a winner and losers." That is totally inappropriate for government.... They will do it wrong probably every time.

But you're talking about technology policy creating generic, pre-competitive {technologies}. Generic - that means it applies to a lot of sectors of the economy. It's not a television set. It might have to do with advanced digital display systems but that could be used in a variety of industries.

Some economists argue we would be better off if government just got its own house in order. Isn't a balanced budget more important than funding new research? …

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