The Smart State

2015 ,    »  -   8 Comments
Ratings: 8.79/10 from 141 users.
The Smart State

Technologies like personal computers and smart phones have reshaped every corner of society. Figures like Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are commonly heralded as the god-like innovators of these planet shifting technologies, but the new documentary The Smart State makes a much different and far less popular argument.

While private industry figureheads like Jobs and Wozniak are to be credited for their keen foresight, aggressive marketing skills and sleekly attractive packaging, the bulk of the advanced technologies they employed in their products resulted from the sweat and ingenuity of the public sector. In the opening moments of the film, a technology expert dissects the innards of a smart phone. The origin of each working part becomes clear through every step of his examination.

The development of the phone's camera was sponsored by the U.S. State Department and proved particularly useful in wartime situations. The GPS technology was also a remnant of conflict, and its invention dates back to the Cold War. Each of these technological features, including Bluetooth, internet, wifi, touch screen, and voice activation, found their roots in the public sector.

The film challenges the common perception that the public sector's role in the creation of new technologies is one of funder and facilitator. In fact, in many instances, the opposite has been true. Government funding of public universities and research centers has led to many of the breakthrough advancements of our time in both the fields of domestic technologies, workplace robotics and medicine. But who actually profits from all of this invention and productivity, and what arrangement would best ensure the future vitality of innovation?

Those are the central questions posed by The Smart State. Private industry not only receives the bounty of acclaim for new technologies, but the vast majority of profits and government tax cuts as well. In the end, the film's expert interview subjects urge for a more collaborative existence between the private and public sectors much like what exists in Denmark. In plotting a future full of energy innovation and free from carbon emissions, the country has found its greatest success when the investment, creation and rewards of new technologies are shared.

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8 Comments / User Reviews

  1. freedom1st time

    every "invention" comes together from a collection of life times of research by many people, the statement "we stand on the shoulders of giants" says it all.

  2. jane

    I love these vpro/backlight documentaries EXCEPT for the text translation of the foreign languages. These are really hard to read. What's wrong with reading the translation????

  3. tazmo

    seems like all those tax dollars funding the 'military industrial complex' at least paid off a little bit huh.

  4. bionara

    is the start of this shot in the Daniel Libeskind gallery in North London? I recognise it from my brother's exhibition!

  5. KsDevil

    So it seems the government can control costs, but refuses to. Good to know there is a law on the books so politicians can be forced to do their job when it comes to publicly funded innovations.

  6. Mahmoud BouRaad

    Values mater. So does freedom.
    Follow the lead, as clean energy innovation is the name of the game and, now a days, it's the most important issue. It's a must and essential for The Smart State, in cooperation with universities' laboratories, private public sector industries and Start Ups, to invest and fund, as much as required, the research and development in science and technology and other sectors.

  7. Fred Garvin

    I was not necessarily on board with this documentary until the point was made that taxpayers pay twice when drugs created at publicly funded universities for example are provided to those in need or elderly under medicare/medicaid. We got hustled!

  8. Paul

    I'm not sure how we "pay twice" when drugs are created through public funding that wouldn't otherwise be created to treat diseases that wouldn't otherwise be treated. It's just the cost. Would those drugs be created if the cost were lower? The documentary doesn't provide and answer; it just asserts that we "pay twice."

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