Gary Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), spoke at the MerITocracy American Innovation Forum on July 21 where he shared insights on the innovation imperative, and why he believes American innovation is a “people story.”

Shapiro explained that the United States thrives on diversity, and that having “the best and the brightest around the world” creates an environment for innovative ideas to thrive.

“Basically, our culture is of diversity. And that is our strength and it should be a national policy as innovation,” Shapiro said. “That should be our national, global five, 10, 15-year strategy in how can we innovate out into the world.”

“Our strength is our immigration. Getting the best and brightest from around the world,” he added.

Shapiro went on to say that the United States is not a country that has been around for thousands of years and agrees on everything. However, he said that’s good news because our differences make us stronger.

“We have the most diverse population in the world,” Shapiro said. “I think the fact is that we are different, and that’s what makes us stronger – so we can disagree with each other.”

When it comes to innovation itself, he explained there is an “urgency” to advance American innovation through technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, self-driving vehicles, biotech, and other cutting-edge technologies in order to compete with other countries.

“The urgency is there because the battle is being fought out,” Shapiro said. “And it’s not just the U.S. versus China; it’s the rest of the world versus some of these totalitarian countries like Russia and China and others.”

Additionally, Shapiro said American innovation is “not just a matter of our standard of living. It’s more to me, it’s a matter of our fundamental view of the world, and the value of individual liberties to possess – the fact that we have freedom.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.