Innovation Files: Where Tech Meets Public Policy-logo

Innovation Files: Where Tech Meets Public Policy

Technology Podcasts

Explore the intersection of technology, innovation, and public policy with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s leading think tank for science and tech policy. Innovation Files serves up expert interviews, insights, and commentary on topics ranging from the broad economics of innovation to specific policy and regulatory questions about new technologies. Expect to hear some unconventional wisdom.


United States


Explore the intersection of technology, innovation, and public policy with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s leading think tank for science and tech policy. Innovation Files serves up expert interviews, insights, and commentary on topics ranging from the broad economics of innovation to specific policy and regulatory questions about new technologies. Expect to hear some unconventional wisdom.








The Importance of Reducing Anticompetitive Market Distortions, With Alden Abbott and Shanker Singham

There is a troubling chasm between trade policy and competition policy. Rob and Jackie sat down with Alden Abbott, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, and Shanker Singham, one of the world's leading international trade and competition economists, to discuss how to bridge the gap between barriers at the border and conditions of competition inside the border. Mentioned Trade, Competition and Domestic Regulatory PolicyThe Bayh-Dole Act’s Vital Importance to the U.S. Life-Sciences Innovation System


How China Continues to Shirk Its Trade Obligations, With Dennis Shea

China has had a dismissive attitude about its obligations as a member of World Trade Organization (WTO) ever since it joined the organization. Rob and Jackie sat down with Dennis Shea, executive director of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Center for Housing Policy, to discuss how China’s current non-market economic system is simply incompatible with WTO norms. Mentioned China’s Trade-Disruptive Economic Model and the Implications for the WTO2022 Report to Congress On China’s WTO ComplianceHow China’s Mercantilist Policies Have Undermined Global Innovation in the Telecom Equipment IndustryFalse Promises II: The Continuing Gap Between China’s WTO Commitments and Its Practices


Getting Export Controls Right, With Kevin Wolf

Export controls exist at the perilous intersection of economic policy and national security. What could go wrong? Rob and Jackie sat down with Kevin Wolf, a partner at Akin Gump, to discuss how to strike the right balance between keeping certain advanced technologies away from adversarial militaries without locking U.S. firms out of global markets. Related Export Controls Shrink the Global Markets U.S. Semiconductors Need to SurviveHow Stringent Export Controls on Emerging Technologies Would Harm the U.S. Economy


‘Regulation by Outrage’ Is a Detriment to Emerging Technologies, With Patrick Grady

Policy regarding new technologies can be reactionary, confused, and focused on the wrong things. Rob and Jackie sat down with Patrick Grady, former policy analyst at ITIF’s Center for Data Innovation, to discuss what the European Union’s policymaking process can teach us about regulating emerging tech. Mentioned: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council Laying Down Harmonised Rules on Artificial IntelligenceRelated" The AI Act Should Be Technology-NeutralRestoring US Leadership on Digital Policy


Counterfeiting is a Crime Against Innovation, With Kebharu Smith

Counterfeiting—one of the oldest, simplest crimes—has only continued to evolve as technology has grown more complex. Rob and Jackie sat down with Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon's Counterfeit Crimes Unit and Associate General Counsel, to talk about how counterfeiting negatively impacts business, taxes, intellectual property, and innovation itself. Mentioned Best Practices to Combat Online Sale of Counterfeits in the EU and USRelated How Data-Sharing Partnerships Can Thwart Counterfeits on Online Marketplaces


The Complicated Evolution of Information, With Jim Cortada

Over the past 150 years, humanity has generated an unprecedented amount and variety of information, surpassing the cumulative knowledge of previous eras. Rob and Jackie sat down with Jim Cortada, a senior research fellow at the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to talk about how information shapes society. Mentioned Birth of Modern Facts: How the Information Revolution Transformed Academic Research, Governments, and BusinessesData Cartels: The Companies That Control and Monopolize Our InformationRelated We Shouldn’t Ask Technologists To Be Arbiters of ‘Truth’


Why Societal Trust Is Imperative For Innovation, With David Moschella

Looking ahead to the technological challenges and opportunities of the next decade, social trust will be more important than ever for the tech industry. Rob and Jackie sat down with David Moschella, a nonresident senior fellow at ITIF and the author of ITIF’s “Defending Digital” series, to discuss how a lack of societal trust harms the U.S. innovation system. Mentioned Digital Innovation Isn’t Undermining Societal Trust; It’s the Other Way AroundRelated Groupthink Is To Blame for Recent TikTok BansTech Panics, Generative AI, and the Need for Regulatory Caution


Deciphering the World of Data, With George Sciadas

A data-driven world raises the stakes for numeric literacy. Rob and Jackie sit down with George Sciadas, the former director of the Statistics Canada Center for Special Business Projects and author of the new book Number Savvy, to discuss the past, present, and future of data in society. Mentioned Number Savvy: From the Invention of Numbers to the Future of DataSprawlball: A Visual Tour of the New Era of the NBA


Containing China While Rebuilding the United States, With Jonathan Ward

America can’t just pick up speed to beat China economically; it needs to slow down China, because there’s no use in accelerating when your adversary is along for the ride. Rob and Jackie sat down with Jonathan Ward, author of China’s Vision of Victory, to discuss where things stand in innovation and technology, and how the U.S. can maintain its position as the world’s largest and most sophisticated economy. Mentioned The Decisive Decade: American Grand Strategy for Triumph Over China, China’s Vision of Victory: A Guide to the Global Grand Strategy of the Chinese Government, Related Wake Up, America: China Is Overtaking the United States in Innovation CapacityThree Cheers for the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022! Now, Let’s Get Back to Work


The Future of Smart Cities in a Data-Driven Society, With Jonathan Reichental

To improve quality of life for as many people as possible, the places to start are cities. Rob and Jackie sat down with multiple award-winning technology and business leader Jonathan Reichental to discuss why the United States is falling behind other countries in the “smart city” movement and why it matters in a data-driven world. Mentioned Data Governance for Dummies.Smart Cities for Dummies.“New Urban Mechanics.”boston.govRelated “Balancing Privacy and Innovation in Smart Cities and Communities”, “How Congress and the Biden Administration Could Jumpstart Smart Cities With AI”


Should Section 230 Cover Algorithms? What’s at Stake in Gonzalez v. Google, With Ashley Johnson

Google doesn’t create terrorist propaganda videos, doesn’t allow them on YouTube, and takes them down as fast as it can when extremist groups post them anyway. But a question now before the Supreme Court is whether Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects Google and other platform operators from liability if their algorithms end up spreading harmful content. To parse the potential ramifications, Rob and Jackie sat down with Senior Policy Analyst Ashley Johnson, one of ITIF’s resident experts on Internet policy issues such as privacy, security, and platform regulation. Mentioned A Policymaker’s Guide to the ‘Techlash’—What It Is and Why It’s a Threat to Growth and ProgressRelated If the Supreme Court Limits Section 230, It Will Change the Way the Internet FunctionsSection 230 Still Isn’t the Solution to Conservative Claims of Social Media Censorship


Microchips Are the New Oil, With Chris Miller

Semiconductors are arguably the most important core technology in the modern world. You can’t fully understand the current state of politics, economics, or technology until you consider the role they play. Rob and Jackie sat down with economic historian Chris Miller to discuss the extent to which microchips are the new oil. Mentioned Chip War: The Fight for the World's Most Critical TechnologyRemarks by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the Special Competitive Studies Project Global Emerging Technologies SummitRelated Computer Chips vs. Potato Chips: The Case for a U.S. Strategic-Industry Policy.


Measuring the Whole Spectrum of Mathematics Achievement, with Richard Rusczyk

Teaching students to combine basic ideas to solve novel, difficult problems is imperative to lay a foundation for STEM pursuits. Rob and Jackie sat down with Richard Rusczyk, founder of the Art of Problem Solving Initiative, coauthor of the original Art of Problem Solving books, and cofounder of the Mandelbrot Problem Solving Competition. Mentioned Art of Problem SolvingRefueling the U.S. Innovation Economy: Fresh Approaches to STEM Education


Growth and the Character of Society, With Benjamin Friedman

Economics is about more than the economy. It also intersects public and private institutions, culture, religion, morality, and politics. Rob and Jackie explored these subjects with Benjamin Friedman, a professor of Political Economy at Harvard and author of The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth and Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. Mentioned: Religion and the Rise of CapitalismThe Moral Consequences of Economic GrowthThe Abandonment of Growth and the Decline of the WestThe Independent ReviewThe Death of Democracy


Seven Ways Nations Attain and Keep National Competitiveness, With Michael Mazaar

Rob and Jackie sat down with Michael Mazarr, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, to discuss his report identifying characteristics that are associated with competitive advantage. They touch on how the U.S. is currently lacking most if not all of them, and potential steps moving forward. Mentioned: The Societal Foundations of National CompetitivenessThe Sources of Societal Competitiveness: How Nations Actually Succeed in Long-Term RivalriesInvesting in American Dynamism, With Ben Horowitz and Katherine BoyleInnovation FilesNational Developmentalism: From Forgotten Tradition to New Consensus American Affairs


How Henry Ford’s Populist Attitude Led Him to Share Tech With Enemies, With Stefan Link

Midwestern populism caused a ripple effect that extended to open technology transfers and exchanges between Ford Motor Company and both Soviet and Nazi specialists. Rob and Jackie sat down with Stefan Link, Associate Professor of History at Dartmouth University, to discuss Henry Ford and his “open door policy” regarding methods and engineering. Mentioned:


Three Historic Tech Booms Shaping Our Times, With Peter Leyden

There are techniques for thoroughly thinking through how technologies will be adopted, what their implications will be, how they will spur growth, and how they will create new industries. Rob and Jackie sat down with futurist and tech expert Peter Leyden, who hosts Civilization Salons at The Long Now Foundation, to discuss how digital technologies are shaping the future for the economy, the work force, manufacturing, and more. Mentioned: Wearing A Walkman Was IllegalBuilding For ChangePessimists ArchiveRelated: The Task Ahead of Us: Transforming the Global Economy With Connectivity, Automation, and Intelligence


What Happens to the Economy When Patent Protections Are Weakened, With Jonathan Barnett

Robust intellectual property rights provide the incentives necessary to drive innovation by allowing markets to form for tangible and intangible assets. Without them, incentives get distorted and innovation slows. Rob and Jackie sat down with Jonathan Barnett, director of the Media, Entertainment and Technology Law Program at USC’s Gould School of Law, to discuss the recent history, current political dynamics, and economic stakes associated with patent protections. Mentioned: The Great Patent GrabThe Battle over Patents: History and Politics of InnovationBig Is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small BusinessTRIPS Waiver on COVID-19 IP Rights Wouldn’t Help Vaccine Access; It Would Just Harm InnovationInnovation Files,The Bayh-Dole Act’s Vital Importance to the U.S. Life-Sciences Innovation System


Life Sciences Innovation Through the Bayh-Dole Act, With Joe Allen

Innovation in life sciences is crucial for many key industries in the United States and across the globe. It supports advances in human biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, health care policy, and beyond. Such advances would not always have been possible without the Bayh-Dole Act. Rob and Jackie sat down with Joe Allen, who served as a professional staffer on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to former Senator Birch Bayh, to discuss the importance of the Bayh-Dole Act and the future of life sciences innovation. Related The Bayh-Dole Act’s Vital Importance to the U.S. Life-Sciences Innovation SystemPreserving Bayh-Dole—the “Inspired” Law That Underpins U.S. Leadership in Life-Sciences InnovationHow Japan Squandered Its Biopharmaceutical Competitiveness: A Cautionary Tale


Securing US Leadership in Quantum Computing, With Edward Parker

Quantum technologies, especially quantum computing, hold great promise in revolutionizing everyday systems. Quantum computing can be applied to health care, artificial intelligence, national security, and beyond. Rob and Jackie sat down with Edward Parker, a physical scientist at the RAND Corporation, to discuss the implications of quantum computing and how the United States can remain the global leader in this technology. Mentioned: An Assessment of the U.S. and Chinese Industrial Bases in Quantum TechnologyWhy the United States Needs to Support Near-Term Quantum Computing ApplicationsRelated: NIST Takes First Big Step in Preparing for Post-Quantum CryptographyHow Will Quantum Computing Shape the Future of AI?ITIF Technology Explainer: What Is Quantum Computing?