I had a chat today with a US colleague who complained that all the journalistic attempts to derail nanotech just drive any commercial benefits of US research into the hands of the Russians & Chinese.
Is that a price worth paying for democracy? Certainly my colleagues in more, ahem, regulated economies are quite happy to give up a small amount of freedom now for staggering economic growth and future prosperity, as I suppose was the US during the Cold War.
Given that commercialising any emerging technology requires a 15 year plan,which could involve three elections, are western style democracies at a disadvantage to ones which can make longer term strategic plans? If you can stand on the shoulders of giants, which is the more important factor, individual creativity or long term objectives?