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inventions, such as the transistor from AT&T, the semiconductor diode (or communications) laser from IBM and GE, and many others enabled the revolution in consumer electronics, information technology, and digital communications that is still sweeping the world today. Ironically, the global changes sparked by these and many other inventions have, over decades, weakened U.S. industrial research in the physical sciences.
In particular, information technology has been a key enabler of globalization and its resulting intensified economic competition. Information technology has upset natural monopolies in communications and computers and is sweeping entire job categories, products, and industries into the dustbin of history, even as it creates new ones. Newer industrial research laboratories established by Microsoft, Google, IBM, and others focus principally on software, systems, and services. This has also been the growth direction for some of the longer-established industrial laboratories. And some of these new software-focused laboratories have been set up in other countries to attract local talent and to improve understanding of and participation in rapidly growing local markets. In sum, these changes have led to the downsizing or elimination of some once-great industrial laboratories and have greatly reduced the focus on physical sciences research in others.
In addition to generating countless inventions that have driven the U.S. economy, this core of industrial laboratories has also provided large numbers of scientific and technological leaders to industry, academia, national laboratories, and the government. This training ground for future leaders in science, education, and policy is also diminished by the changes in the industrial laboratories. After