My articles and research on ‘Public policy’

Theranos teaches Silicon Valley a hard lesson about accountability

By Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld and Vivek Wadhwa The Theranos saga hit another low last week when the company informed regulators that it was voiding two years of tests from its Edison blood testing devices and sending of tens-of-thousands of revised tests results to doctors. This means that thousands of patients received incorrect results and were likely given the wrong treatments. Surely the doctors and the...

Trump’s demand that Apple must make iPhones in the U.S. actually isn’t that crazy

Donald Trump has promised that “we’re gonna get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries.” He said this at a speech at Virginia’s Liberty University and several other events. It is very likely that he is not serious; Trump tends to say things he couldn’t possibly mean. But he did raise an intriguing question about whether Apple — and other...

How open science can help solve Zika and prepare us for the next pandemic

With the advent of synthetic biology and gene editing tools, there are amazing breakthroughs being made in medicine, energy and food. Within a few years, we will see cures for debilitating diseases, new biofuels, and grains that can be grown in extreme climates. We will also have many new nightmares: bioterrorism and well-meaning experiments that get out of hand. Imagine a superbug that can cure — or kill...

Apple vs. FBI: The tip of the iceberg as laws can’t keep up with tech

The battle between the FBI and Apple over the unlocking of a terrorist’s iPhone will likely require Congress to create new legislation. That’s because there really aren’t any existing laws which encompass technologies such as these. The battle is between security and privacy, with Silicon Valley fighting for privacy. The debates in Congress will be ugly, uninformed, and emotional. Lawmakers won’t know...

Why Apple’s Defeat to Samsung Was a Victory for Innovation

Apple just suffered an important legal defeat to Samsung in its battle over patents. This is good because Apple’s claims were frivolous; its patents were questionable; and its use of litigation to hold back a competitor set another wrong precedent for the industry. Because of these patent wars and patent trolls, technology companies are divesting huge resources to defend themselves rather than advancing...

Technology and the growing economic divide

Yelp Eat24 customer-support representative Talia Jane recently wrote a heart-wrenching blog about the difficulties she faced in living on her meager salary. “So here I am, 25 years old, balancing all sorts of debt and trying to pave a life for myself that doesn’t involve crying in the bathtub every week”, she wrote.  Her situation was so dire that, on one occasion, she could not even come up with the...

Apple picked the wrong battle in privacy war

Imagine if the government required you to have a combination lock on your door and to give it the key. It would create security and privacy risks for you and your family. This is what could happen if we required the technology industry to add back doors to its software and devices. Hackers, criminals, and foreign governments could crack the code and abuse it. This is what the technology industry is rightfully...

Why Facebook and Marc Andreessen misunderstood India—and inadvertently started a revolt

Facebook is being compared to the treacherous East India Company, and director Marc Andreessen is being accused of being anti-Indian, a racist, and worse.  It won’t surprise me if Indian activists launch a “Quit India” movement to expel Facebook from India, modelled on Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts against the British in 1942. All of this is because of a failed effort by Facebook to provide Internet access...

The urgent need for Silicon Valley to lead a smart and civil conversation on inequality

There are very few issues that Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton all agree on.  One of them is the growing problem of inequality in income and wealth.  From the extreme left to the extreme right, everyone is angry about the one percent who have the majority of the wealth.  There has always been an income and wealth gap, but the divide between average worker and the very wealthy has...

Free Basics And Facebook’s Waterloo In India

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India made a wise decision by banning Facebook’s Free Basics internet service. The project was ill-conceived and showed a lack of understanding of India’s culture and values. Mark Zuckerberg surely had good intentions in wanting to provide Internet access to hundreds of millions of people who lack access.  But he went about it in the wrong way. In the process, he alienated...

The many reasons to be excited about America’s future

Every 30 or 40 years, Americans become incredibly pessimistic.  They begin to believe the nation is falling behind in competitiveness and innovation, that their children will not be as well off as they themselves have been, and that some other country will own the future.  They fear that the U.S. will go the way of the British Empire in the 20th century. This may be the country’s greatest advantage, because...

India deserves better than Mark Zuckerberg’s watered-down Internet

Mark Zuckerberg is taking intense fire in India over an initiative that his organization Internet.org launched, to provide limited Internet access to the masses. He seems genuine in his desire to bring digital equality to the world: in an op-ed for The Times of India, he defended this initiative, called Free Basics, citing the example of a farmer named Ganesh, who would be able to find weather information and...