Why United States will remain dominant in tech…

I was just reading the Global Voices Online blog (excellent blog, rarely is about tech, but brings lots of news and opinions from around the world) and saw this post about an Iranian blogger who is tired of having her blog “filtered” by its government.

On Sunday Maryam took me to a party of Iranians she knows (the host was the one who got us our loan for our house). Lots of engineers. My brother-in-law is there. He’s working on some secret stuff for Apple. Won’t tell me what’s up. But, his role is key.

If you look around Silicon Valley you’ll see lots of immigrants who are making the technology that fuels the companies, both big and small here.

See, we’ve imported smart people from all over the world. From places that have governments that mistreat their citizens.

As long as those places continue mistreating their citizens, the United States will remain dominant in tech and other geeky endeavors.

Our trick is not to mistreat our immigrants so they keep coming here.

One other thing I learned from the Iranian party where I was one of only two American-born people (the other was my son)? Every single one of them loves our Thanksgiving holiday, even though none of the food is a staple in Iran. I think it’s partly that they are thankful a place like USA exists so they can come and work on things they want without having some government goon turning off their work (or their blog).

92 thoughts on “Why United States will remain dominant in tech…

  1. Goebbels: when you visit India, do you see a lot of different faces from all over the world moving there?

    Strange statement, Mr. Scoble. And very uninformed as well, if I may add. India is a developing country. USA is a developed country. Big difference. Of course a person from a more affluent country would not go to a less affluent country. One doesn’t have to be a genius to understand that. However, there are a lot of immigrants from countries like Burma, Srilanka, Bangladesh and Nepal in India. India, because of its population can’t have an open immigration system like much of the western world. Why all these people from the aforementioned countries come to India? Because India is better than their situation in their home countries.

    Also, as some of the others have pointed out, there are quite a few countries, notably, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan which are doing quite well in the tech arena as well.

    Also, your argument that USA will remain the tech superpower by attracting immigrants shows a lack of understanding. Getting more and more immigrants from places like India, whereas not investing enough in home education and its own citizens can’t continue long enough. Situations will get better in those other countries and the brain gain will change into brain drain. It is already happening btw. More and more American students are shying away from studying computers and this will infact harm America in the long run.

  2. Goebbels: when you visit India, do you see a lot of different faces from all over the world moving there?

    Strange statement, Mr. Scoble. And very uninformed as well, if I may add. India is a developing country. USA is a developed country. Big difference. Of course a person from a more affluent country would not go to a less affluent country. One doesn’t have to be a genius to understand that. However, there are a lot of immigrants from countries like Burma, Srilanka, Bangladesh and Nepal in India. India, because of its population can’t have an open immigration system like much of the western world. Why all these people from the aforementioned countries come to India? Because India is better than their situation in their home countries.

    Also, as some of the others have pointed out, there are quite a few countries, notably, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan which are doing quite well in the tech arena as well.

    Also, your argument that USA will remain the tech superpower by attracting immigrants shows a lack of understanding. Getting more and more immigrants from places like India, whereas not investing enough in home education and its own citizens can’t continue long enough. Situations will get better in those other countries and the brain gain will change into brain drain. It is already happening btw. More and more American students are shying away from studying computers and this will infact harm America in the long run.

  3. How the hell can you say the USA dominates in Tech if you ever visit Korea or Japan you’ll realize that they’re way ahead of us in terms of technology

  4. How the hell can you say the USA dominates in Tech if you ever visit Korea or Japan you’ll realize that they’re way ahead of us in terms of technology

  5. W^L+:

    I don’t think there is any doubt that some people, under some governments face persecution, at some time. Iraq (both then and now), Iran, China etc are but few examples.

    The moot point however; is the stated claim by Scoble, that this persecution leads to immigration to the USA, where there is no persecution, and that this eutopia leads the USA on to world dominance in tech matters.

    The argument is as facile as saying that the USA dominates in Tech because it has been a nation at war for so long, and the military is driving investment in technology that has spin-off in civilian applications.

  6. W^L+:

    I don’t think there is any doubt that some people, under some governments face persecution, at some time. Iraq (both then and now), Iran, China etc are but few examples.

    The moot point however; is the stated claim by Scoble, that this persecution leads to immigration to the USA, where there is no persecution, and that this eutopia leads the USA on to world dominance in tech matters.

    The argument is as facile as saying that the USA dominates in Tech because it has been a nation at war for so long, and the military is driving investment in technology that has spin-off in civilian applications.

  7. @polblogeu #41:

    Most of the discussion here takes his statements about the bloggers in Iran at face value. It is his conclusions and the way that he gets there that people are stirred up about.

    Is the Iranian persecution of bloggers proof that the US will remain tech-dominant in the future? I think there are already credible doubts about whether the US is even tech-dominant now, let alone in the future. Likewise, there are doubts about whether we are providing a place for our talented domestic people to grow, and about whether our receptiveness to immigrants and outsiders only applies to certain groups. None of these issues depends upon statements by foreign bloggers about whether they experience persecution.

    But I agree that it can be enlightening to converse with people in different places and social / ethnic groups. If that was your purpose, to encourage this, then I heartily agree.

  8. @polblogeu #41:

    Most of the discussion here takes his statements about the bloggers in Iran at face value. It is his conclusions and the way that he gets there that people are stirred up about.

    Is the Iranian persecution of bloggers proof that the US will remain tech-dominant in the future? I think there are already credible doubts about whether the US is even tech-dominant now, let alone in the future. Likewise, there are doubts about whether we are providing a place for our talented domestic people to grow, and about whether our receptiveness to immigrants and outsiders only applies to certain groups. None of these issues depends upon statements by foreign bloggers about whether they experience persecution.

    But I agree that it can be enlightening to converse with people in different places and social / ethnic groups. If that was your purpose, to encourage this, then I heartily agree.

  9. alot of the discussion here could be reality checked if you would actually go to the bloggers in the countries you are making claims about…

    …i volunteer for the global voices project robert mentions and can say that the beauty of gv is that you can test your claims directly by discussing with people who can give you a view literally from the streets (or cyber-cafe)…

    you can talk directly with bloggers in iran or india by simply goign to the gv site and clicking on the country name where you will find links to blogs…

    why speculate a few times removed from the truth *about* people when you can engage directly with them?

  10. alot of the discussion here could be reality checked if you would actually go to the bloggers in the countries you are making claims about…

    …i volunteer for the global voices project robert mentions and can say that the beauty of gv is that you can test your claims directly by discussing with people who can give you a view literally from the streets (or cyber-cafe)…

    you can talk directly with bloggers in iran or india by simply goign to the gv site and clicking on the country name where you will find links to blogs…

    why speculate a few times removed from the truth *about* people when you can engage directly with them?

  11. Stefan, I’m not entirely sure what mobile market you’re talking about, but the pricing and more importantly price predictability of mobile data in the US actually is a fair bit better than I’ve experienced in the UK and most of Europe. ’3′ and T-Mobile do flat rate here in the UK where I live, and the industry is moving that way in the UK, but only recently.

    CDMA might not be inter-operable with GSM, but Verizon’s EVDO service in the US is stellar and faster than most GSM services I’ve used in Europe, which suffer from horrible contention rates and low bitrates. Japan has been far ahead of Europe and the US for years, but that has much to do with the pricing competitiveness of iMode when compared to landline data rates there.

    As an American, I used to be very envious of mobile services abroad, but I would have to say that in the last few years, mobile data and services in the US have become quite comparable both in terms of features and pricing. Not to be simply provocative, but I’m actually curious. What benefits exactly is Europe reaping that the US isn’t in terms of mobile applications? I find the pricing in Europe to be so prohibitive that I don’t use mobile data unless I can pick up WiFi.

  12. Stefan, I’m not entirely sure what mobile market you’re talking about, but the pricing and more importantly price predictability of mobile data in the US actually is a fair bit better than I’ve experienced in the UK and most of Europe. ’3′ and T-Mobile do flat rate here in the UK where I live, and the industry is moving that way in the UK, but only recently.

    CDMA might not be inter-operable with GSM, but Verizon’s EVDO service in the US is stellar and faster than most GSM services I’ve used in Europe, which suffer from horrible contention rates and low bitrates. Japan has been far ahead of Europe and the US for years, but that has much to do with the pricing competitiveness of iMode when compared to landline data rates there.

    As an American, I used to be very envious of mobile services abroad, but I would have to say that in the last few years, mobile data and services in the US have become quite comparable both in terms of features and pricing. Not to be simply provocative, but I’m actually curious. What benefits exactly is Europe reaping that the US isn’t in terms of mobile applications? I find the pricing in Europe to be so prohibitive that I don’t use mobile data unless I can pick up WiFi.

  13. @25 Scoble, stop with the anecdotal examples to try to support your arguments. This would fail debating 101. (“I’ve talked to a lot of immigrants and they all say…..” “I’ve spoken with XX CEO’s and they all say…”). You know that doesn’t make something a fact. I can stand on any street corner in any city in SoCal and come up with many more examples of people coming here (legally and illegally) because of economic opportunity. So, who’s right? I think the data will prove, however, that the majority of immigration is driven by economics, not oppression.

  14. @25 Scoble, stop with the anecdotal examples to try to support your arguments. This would fail debating 101. (“I’ve talked to a lot of immigrants and they all say…..” “I’ve spoken with XX CEO’s and they all say…”). You know that doesn’t make something a fact. I can stand on any street corner in any city in SoCal and come up with many more examples of people coming here (legally and illegally) because of economic opportunity. So, who’s right? I think the data will prove, however, that the majority of immigration is driven by economics, not oppression.

  15. I guess Robert wanted to write about how Iranians are mistreated in their own country and how that helps US( or the country Iranians emmigrate to).

    However, one of Robert’s foremost rules is to make the headline as attractive as possible to get page views. So he had to usher in the current title and write something about it. Think about it – how many of us would have left a comment in a post titled “How Iran mistreats it’s citizens and that helps other countries”.

    It’s real fun to analyze an analysis ;-)

  16. I guess Robert wanted to write about how Iranians are mistreated in their own country and how that helps US( or the country Iranians emmigrate to).

    However, one of Robert’s foremost rules is to make the headline as attractive as possible to get page views. So he had to usher in the current title and write something about it. Think about it – how many of us would have left a comment in a post titled “How Iran mistreats it’s citizens and that helps other countries”.

    It’s real fun to analyze an analysis ;-)

  17. Your argument’s simplistic and shows a lack of knowledge. The way I read it, it goes something like this:

    Iran oppressive. US not. Immigrants in Silicon Valley. They must be Iranians fleeing their regime. World only consists of Iran and America. There are no other Western countries, and there’s no South Korea or Japan. Therefore the US leads the world in tech. Oh, and Iranians want to be American so they can celebrate Thanksgiving.

    Not the most convincing argument I’ve heard recently…

  18. Your argument’s simplistic and shows a lack of knowledge. The way I read it, it goes something like this:

    Iran oppressive. US not. Immigrants in Silicon Valley. They must be Iranians fleeing their regime. World only consists of Iran and America. There are no other Western countries, and there’s no South Korea or Japan. Therefore the US leads the world in tech. Oh, and Iranians want to be American so they can celebrate Thanksgiving.

    Not the most convincing argument I’ve heard recently…

  19. Doug, you seem to be so passionate about poeple from India ‘stealing’ your jobs at half the salaries. You are not alone, i guess there are quite a lot of people who feel that way.

    However, nobody gives a thought on how the American companies wiped out entire industries from the asian countries. Coke,Nike and Levis are some prime examples.

    Not long ago every community and town in India had an indigenous soft drink manufacturer or 2. Now all you will find is Coke and Pepsi. Unfortuantely the masses that lost their livelihood didnt have blogs and webpages that they could write about their ‘sorry state’.

    Also you are talking about losing 200,000 jobs per year – the L1 and H1 visas combined. I am talking about close to 10 million in just 2 industries – apparel and softdrinks that were wiped out in a small matter of 2 years.

    These things are natural. The market economics will decide how things go. You can’t have American companies thriving in these countries AND not having to lose anything at all.

    But I do agree with your observations about Immigrant indian families. You have to understand that they come a totally insecure background and upbringing. It’s not going to be so easy to move from that to a more social american way of living.

    Icosa@30, I dont know ho you got the idea that India is more conducive to progress. The reality is totally the opposite. Take a glance at any of the national newspapers from india and you will realize what’s actually happening. The political system is a joke. The judicial system is painfully slow and not severe. The ‘Life’ sentence consists of 14 years but will typically get over in 8-10 due to remissions. There’s never any debate about major policies or issues. Each and every indiviudal in the country is continously driven by insecurity. Even the so called success story of india – the IT industry – is yet to come up with anything but services.

  20. Doug, you seem to be so passionate about poeple from India ‘stealing’ your jobs at half the salaries. You are not alone, i guess there are quite a lot of people who feel that way.

    However, nobody gives a thought on how the American companies wiped out entire industries from the asian countries. Coke,Nike and Levis are some prime examples.

    Not long ago every community and town in India had an indigenous soft drink manufacturer or 2. Now all you will find is Coke and Pepsi. Unfortuantely the masses that lost their livelihood didnt have blogs and webpages that they could write about their ‘sorry state’.

    Also you are talking about losing 200,000 jobs per year – the L1 and H1 visas combined. I am talking about close to 10 million in just 2 industries – apparel and softdrinks that were wiped out in a small matter of 2 years.

    These things are natural. The market economics will decide how things go. You can’t have American companies thriving in these countries AND not having to lose anything at all.

    But I do agree with your observations about Immigrant indian families. You have to understand that they come a totally insecure background and upbringing. It’s not going to be so easy to move from that to a more social american way of living.

    Icosa@30, I dont know ho you got the idea that India is more conducive to progress. The reality is totally the opposite. Take a glance at any of the national newspapers from india and you will realize what’s actually happening. The political system is a joke. The judicial system is painfully slow and not severe. The ‘Life’ sentence consists of 14 years but will typically get over in 8-10 due to remissions. There’s never any debate about major policies or issues. Each and every indiviudal in the country is continously driven by insecurity. Even the so called success story of india – the IT industry – is yet to come up with anything but services.

  21. W^L+,

    I counld’t agree more. I once worked at a company where the groudskeeper/maintenance guy, who was from Guatamala, used to strike up conversations with me and other techs on our smoking breaks. He was one of the most intelligent computer guys I’ve ever talked with outside of IT circles. He used to do IT back home, but couldn’t convince anyone to hire him since he didn’t have a degree. What a loss. He would have made a better sys admin than me or any of my co-workers. He once even helped us solve a problem without even sitting at the keyboard. He remembered the same problem and told us how to fix it. We took him to lunch.
    About 6 months later, we convinced a small IT shop to hire him based on his superb logic skills. He was a hit. He went from making $8.00 an hour to $55K. He was thrilled and he kept in touch with some of us. I would hire him in a NY minute over some idiot with an MBA from Harvard. He was real. He was genuine in his desire to help, and he was an everyman. No sense in hiring prima donnas when there are plenty like Jorge waiting in the wings with the skills and desire to match.

    I’m appalled at Bush and how he handles our Mexican and Central American neighbors. Bush lets in half the subcontinent on a annual basis, but let’s screw our southern neighbors who have much more in common with us. Mexico is a gold mine of talent. I know. I used to live on the border and saw so much talent going to waste because the US was and is stupid in its policy towards Latinos.

    I’d rather work with Latinos and Africans than any other group of people, no matter their degrees and talents. There are not a more genuine group of folks than these.

  22. W^L+,

    I counld’t agree more. I once worked at a company where the groudskeeper/maintenance guy, who was from Guatamala, used to strike up conversations with me and other techs on our smoking breaks. He was one of the most intelligent computer guys I’ve ever talked with outside of IT circles. He used to do IT back home, but couldn’t convince anyone to hire him since he didn’t have a degree. What a loss. He would have made a better sys admin than me or any of my co-workers. He once even helped us solve a problem without even sitting at the keyboard. He remembered the same problem and told us how to fix it. We took him to lunch.
    About 6 months later, we convinced a small IT shop to hire him based on his superb logic skills. He was a hit. He went from making $8.00 an hour to $55K. He was thrilled and he kept in touch with some of us. I would hire him in a NY minute over some idiot with an MBA from Harvard. He was real. He was genuine in his desire to help, and he was an everyman. No sense in hiring prima donnas when there are plenty like Jorge waiting in the wings with the skills and desire to match.

    I’m appalled at Bush and how he handles our Mexican and Central American neighbors. Bush lets in half the subcontinent on a annual basis, but let’s screw our southern neighbors who have much more in common with us. Mexico is a gold mine of talent. I know. I used to live on the border and saw so much talent going to waste because the US was and is stupid in its policy towards Latinos.

    I’d rather work with Latinos and Africans than any other group of people, no matter their degrees and talents. There are not a more genuine group of folks than these.

  23. Robert, some of the most skilled and able immigrants I have ever met are coming from MEXICO. Most of them are winding up as farm laborers, maids, and custodians. This shows that our receptiveness to immigrants is very much dependent upon where they immigrated from. In other words, the racial and ethnic problems in our country are preventing us from moving forward.

  24. Robert, some of the most skilled and able immigrants I have ever met are coming from MEXICO. Most of them are winding up as farm laborers, maids, and custodians. This shows that our receptiveness to immigrants is very much dependent upon where they immigrated from. In other words, the racial and ethnic problems in our country are preventing us from moving forward.

  25. The US is losing in a major way and everyone knows it, just no one wants to admit it. I used to live right outside D.C. and the immigrats have all but taken over all of the tech positions and are sending all the profits home. Where once American programmers and engineers could command 6-figure salaries, now immigrants are willing to work for half that, and, consequently, have driven down IT salaries to new lows. I know this first hand. I’ve witnessed it. The last two companies I worked for before moving down south had hardly no immigrants 5 years ago, and now they are both over 50% immigrant workers.

    America has let itself be taken over and I find that very, very sad. America needs immigrants, but we should NEVER let them take the upper hand. They work for Americans, not the other way around. I despise globalization in a major way.

    In the DC area, entire neighborhoods might as well be In India. I don’t mind competing for jobs, but the wholesale giving away of American jobs to foreigners because they are willing to work for less sickens me to no end. I’m waiting patiently for the backlash. All of this just so companies can save money on payroll and while dismantling the current generation of American tech workers. People are not going into college now in this country for computer science and proggramming because of fear of not being able to compete with immigrants.

    Argue all you want, but I think that in order to have a job here, you need to be a citizen, or come from a country that has salaries similar to our own — Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Canada, and yes, even some of the African cities. Let’s give the best jobs to our own before looking outward to people that are only going to help the economy a little by paying taxes only. Most immigrants are too cliqueish for my liking. They establish their own neighborhoods, they take over grocery stores and force out American products for their own, and the stores let them, all in the name of political correctness. American, Canadians, Brits, Germans, western europeans, the Africans — they all socialize and do well here. They integrate without taking over. The Indian immigrants, for example, rarely move into American neghborhoods unless they are taking over. I’ve seen neighborhoods lose 2 or 3 houses every couple of months until they have the lion’s share of homes and then feel comfotable. When I moved into my house in the mid-90s, there were maybe 2 Indian families in my neighborhood. When I moved last year, the percentage was over 75%. I had great neighbors from Africa and Europe, but the Indian families never let their kids play with the African or Latino kids and rarely the Americans, never attended the block parties, never did anything to assimilate into society. They like their own kind only. Even at work, they went to lunch together, hung out together. The Africans, Europeans, and Latinos I lived around all felt like they were part of America, and we all hung out together talking about life in Kenya, or Puerto Rico, Angola or Russia, Switzerland. Never did the Indians ever come to hang out. It’s almost like they think they’re better than us after undercutting our salaries and taking our jobs.

  26. The US is losing in a major way and everyone knows it, just no one wants to admit it. I used to live right outside D.C. and the immigrats have all but taken over all of the tech positions and are sending all the profits home. Where once American programmers and engineers could command 6-figure salaries, now immigrants are willing to work for half that, and, consequently, have driven down IT salaries to new lows. I know this first hand. I’ve witnessed it. The last two companies I worked for before moving down south had hardly no immigrants 5 years ago, and now they are both over 50% immigrant workers.

    America has let itself be taken over and I find that very, very sad. America needs immigrants, but we should NEVER let them take the upper hand. They work for Americans, not the other way around. I despise globalization in a major way.

    In the DC area, entire neighborhoods might as well be In India. I don’t mind competing for jobs, but the wholesale giving away of American jobs to foreigners because they are willing to work for less sickens me to no end. I’m waiting patiently for the backlash. All of this just so companies can save money on payroll and while dismantling the current generation of American tech workers. People are not going into college now in this country for computer science and proggramming because of fear of not being able to compete with immigrants.

    Argue all you want, but I think that in order to have a job here, you need to be a citizen, or come from a country that has salaries similar to our own — Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Canada, and yes, even some of the African cities. Let’s give the best jobs to our own before looking outward to people that are only going to help the economy a little by paying taxes only. Most immigrants are too cliqueish for my liking. They establish their own neighborhoods, they take over grocery stores and force out American products for their own, and the stores let them, all in the name of political correctness. American, Canadians, Brits, Germans, western europeans, the Africans — they all socialize and do well here. They integrate without taking over. The Indian immigrants, for example, rarely move into American neghborhoods unless they are taking over. I’ve seen neighborhoods lose 2 or 3 houses every couple of months until they have the lion’s share of homes and then feel comfotable. When I moved into my house in the mid-90s, there were maybe 2 Indian families in my neighborhood. When I moved last year, the percentage was over 75%. I had great neighbors from Africa and Europe, but the Indian families never let their kids play with the African or Latino kids and rarely the Americans, never attended the block parties, never did anything to assimilate into society. They like their own kind only. Even at work, they went to lunch together, hung out together. The Africans, Europeans, and Latinos I lived around all felt like they were part of America, and we all hung out together talking about life in Kenya, or Puerto Rico, Angola or Russia, Switzerland. Never did the Indians ever come to hang out. It’s almost like they think they’re better than us after undercutting our salaries and taking our jobs.

  27. North America, not just the United States, is gradually being overtaken by countries like China and India. Their environments are phenomenally more conducive to progress than our own. “Average artists copy, great artists steal.” Picasso said. China and India are stealing the world blind.

  28. North America, not just the United States, is gradually being overtaken by countries like China and India. Their environments are phenomenally more conducive to progress than our own. “Average artists copy, great artists steal.” Picasso said. China and India are stealing the world blind.

  29. The US is undoubtedly the most immigrant-friendly country in the world — I cannot imagine any other country where a grad student from another country can simply more or less take it for granted that s/he has a very good shot at a job in that country if s/he is good enough. Surely thats been one of the main reasons for advanced tech and wealth of the US in general.

    But whether or how long that remains is more complicated — the US economy’s state, foreign policy (causing the US to lose good will of people around the US) etc. can come in the way.

    Re censorship — I believe the US is among the better places in the world as regards self-expression, but there are other places at least as good. In fact lopsided and deliberately misleading coverage of international issues are problems most Americans arent even aware of.

  30. The US is undoubtedly the most immigrant-friendly country in the world — I cannot imagine any other country where a grad student from another country can simply more or less take it for granted that s/he has a very good shot at a job in that country if s/he is good enough. Surely thats been one of the main reasons for advanced tech and wealth of the US in general.

    But whether or how long that remains is more complicated — the US economy’s state, foreign policy (causing the US to lose good will of people around the US) etc. can come in the way.

    Re censorship — I believe the US is among the better places in the world as regards self-expression, but there are other places at least as good. In fact lopsided and deliberately misleading coverage of international issues are problems most Americans arent even aware of.

  31. Computer Tech – I completely agree. I’m one of them. But since the dollar is about to be a toilet paper pretty soon, it doesn’t make any sense for people from some countries to come over here anymore.

  32. Computer Tech – I completely agree. I’m one of them. But since the dollar is about to be a toilet paper pretty soon, it doesn’t make any sense for people from some countries to come over here anymore.

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