Americas biggest export? Well, the complexion of our export product and services mix has changed radically in the last century. We used to be a powerhouse in food, grain, steel, natural resources, and automobiles. But today it looks quite different. America’s ability to export goods and services that have value and have a tremendous impact on the rest of the world is one of the cornerstones of our economy.
Many people come to our shores for different valuable goods, but what are the really valuable things that we give to the rest of the world? What is America’s biggest export? Years ago I was a young engineer working for a major defense company and we were involved with this new project. It was called DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. And its primary goal was to connect computers together so we could get them talking.
The idea was that if computers were not one island unto themselves and we could make them talk we would be able to get more productivity out of them. Maybe even double their performance. It is funny now when you look back on it and see that yes people were hoping to double our productivity.
Now thirty years later More’s Law is still in effect. More’s law stating that technology will double in productivity every 2 years. The idea has become commonplace we don’t even think about it anymore. We look at the technology around us and assume it will just keep growing. And it does. But with the growth of this technology comes the responsibility to determine how we are going to keep our customers and consumers safe.
What Exactly Are We Exporting?
So looking at Americas biggest exports today we see things like cars still on the list, computer equipment, machinery, not as many raw materials and food. Companies like Ford, Procter and Gamble, and Intel, and Cisco. But at the root of these companies is technology American technology. It has led the world for many years and it still does. Whether it is a piece of computer equipment inside of a modern Automobile, it is primarily a piece of technology. Loaded with computers processors memory and software. This will not change. Expect to see a greater intensity of this moving forward.
And with all of this technology comes greater responsibility to maintain the security of it all. At this point, there is not a concerted industry-wide effort to make our new technologies more safe and secure but I believe it will be imperative in the future. We just have not gotten there yet. But necessity is the mother of invention and this will certainly become necessary sooner rather than later. So we better make sure we are not only exporting technology but also exporting secure technology.
Oh and that DARPA thing? Well, that was the internet. Yeah, it helped computers talk to each other better and did a whole lot more stuff. Now the whole world would not know what to do without the internet. How would they communicate, how would they use their cell phones, how would they conduct modern commerce, book a flight or order a pizza? Pretty cool how technology keeps America on the map. Now we just need to get better at keeping it safe.