My articles and research on ‘Public policy’

Why I am stepping out of the debate on women in technology

I started advocating for women in engineering in 2006 when my dean at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, Kristina Johnson, made me aware of the declining numbers of women entering the field. As a former tech entrepreneur, I found the situation alarming. I had spent the last few years researching how education, immigration, and entrepreneurship drive innovation. The fact that half of our population was being...

Why Obama should stop pushing nuclear energy on India

The White House is claiming victory for a breakthrough in the impasse with India over nuclear energy. Indian laws have held suppliers, designers and builders of nuclear plants liable in case of an accident and this made U.S. companies fearful of doing business there. During his recent trip, President Obama persuaded India’s government to create an insurance pool to compensate victims of a potential disaster...

Why 2015 will be the year of India’s next technology revolution

The multibillion-dollar valuations of India’s new tech stars, Flipkart and Snapdeal, are no pricing bubble, but a signal that the country’s technology boom has begun. The next five years will see a flurry of technology innovation that will transform India as much as cellphones have over the past 15 years. This will be enabled by the availability of low-cost smartphones, the digital identity that India’s...

2014 is ending, but this wave of technology disruptions is just beginning

Changes in technology are happening at a scale which was unimaginable before and will cause disruption in industry after industry. This has really begun to worry me, because we are not ready for this change and most of our leading companies won’t exist 15–20 years from now. Here are five sectors to keep an eye on: 1. Let’s start with manufacturing. Robotics and 3-D printing have made it cheaper to manufacture...

Venture capital takes a step in the right direction on diversity

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) announced Monday the formation of a task force to help its members increase opportunities for women and minorities. On the surface, this looks like just another news release by an industry under fire; but I think there is much more to it. The NVCA is providing true leadership and challenging its members to clean up their act. I have long been critical of the venture-capital...

Banning drones won’t solve the problem

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released a report detailing more than 190 safety incidents involving drones and commercial aircraft. In response, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has vowed to push legislation that would crack down on the commercial use of drones, also called Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). India’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation has already banned all use of drones...

Why I’m pleasantly surprised with Obama’s immigration plan

I had expected — or feared — that President Obama would once again let Silicon Valley down with his executive order on immigration. But he hasn’t. The president has done practically everything in his power to address the needs of the technology community. The larger problem is that this is a only band-aid. What is worse is that this will likely be the only immigration reform we see in the near future....

Uber’s legacy hangs in the balance: Digital robber baron or respectable innovator?

Uber, the leading ridesharing company, has earned the distinction of becoming one of the most hated companies in the technology industry. One of its executives, Emil Michael, recently suggested to a large dinner gathering that his company should allocate $1 million to dig up dirt on reporters who were criticizing it. Last month, it tried to entice riders in Lyon, France, with ads pitching free pickups from...

Snapdeal—the flourishing company America passed on—offers a lesson about immigration reform

After graduating from Wharton in 2007, Kunal Bahl wanted to become an entrepreneur. He couldn’t get a visa, so he had to return home to India. He started SnapDeal in February 2010 with the ambition of building India’s Groupon. Then he saw an even greater opportunity—to turn SnapDeal into India’s Amazon.com. Snapdeal already has more than 25 million customers and sells goods from 50,000 merchants. With...

Why baby boomers are an important part of technology’s future

Steve Jobs was 52 when he announced the iPhone. That was in 2007. Years later, the Apple co-founder introduced the MacBook Air, App Store and iPad. Tim Cook, who was 51 when he took over from Jobs, is building on his legacy. They both shattered a myth that the young rule the technology industry. Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists, however, speak openly of their bias toward the young. “People under 35 are...

Why we should believe the dreamers—not the experts

History is littered with the failed predictions of experts. Yet governments hire high-paid consultants to advise on policy; businesses use them to vet research and development projects; and venture capitalists have them make investment decisions.  Experts excel in looking backwards, protecting their turf, and saying what their clients want to hear. Their short-term predictions are sometimes right, but they...

We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers revived a debate I’d had with futurist Ray Kurzweil in 2012 about the jobless future. He echoed the words of Peter Diamandis, who says that we are moving from a history of scarcity to an era of abundance. Then he noted that the technologies that make such abundance possible are allowing production of far more output using...