Despite the deep and diverse benefits from innovation, there are also transition costs associated with rapid technological change and advancement. Bringing the U.S. tradition of innovation into the 21st century and securing it for the future requires that the many benefits that flow from innovation are shared and felt by all.
Managed well, the benefits of innovation have the potential to ripple through the whole economy — creating new jobs, seeding new sectors and enhancing economywide productivity. For example, the invention of the personal computer has created an estimated 15.8 million net new jobs outside of the technology sector in the United States since 1980. The innovation economy of the 21st century has the potential to create tremendous growth and opportunity on a similar scale.
But uneven participation in the innovation economy shortchanges the nation’s full innovative potential, jeopardizing future technological progress and leading to an uneven distribution of benefits. The strong link between robust participation and the benefits of innovation underscores the importance of inclusion. A bumpy entry into a period of large-scale technological change could dampen economic growth, forestall tangible benefits for American households and lengthen the period of disruption. On the other hand, policies that help level the playing field across demographic and regional divides, equip all workers with innovation-ready skills, and encourage broad participation in the innovation economy must keep pace with technological change to truly promote prosperity and inclusive growth.