“The real message in this article is easy to miss:
“‘Moonshots’ are heroic engineering efforts that draw upon decades of fundamental research. Without fundamental research, there can be no moonshots.
“So, who’s doing it? ‘Back in the day,’ IBM Research and Bell Labs invested in fundamental research, alongside the Federal government. Today, to first approximation, only Microsoft (through Microsoft Research) does so. Google X, as Astro Teller states, is in the moonshot business. Most other companies are in the ‘nothing but engineering the next release of the product’ business, or in the ‘R&D via M&A business.’
“God bless Microsoft Research for augmenting the Federal investment in fundamental research in information technology: Microsoft spends roughly as much on Microsoft Research as the National Science Foundation spends on computer science research – 95% of it published in the open literature, and much of it in collaboration with university researchers.”
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