From an essay by B. R. Inman and Daniel F. Burton in the January issue of Scientific American:

The once commanding U.S. advantage in technology has slipped away. The culprit? International competition. The consequences? U.S. government and business relationships have been fundamentally altered, with major implications for U.S. science and technology policy. Although the repercussions are still being sorted out, the basic message is clear: when it comes to technology, U.S. public policy can no longer afford to be preoccupied with basic research and military issues; economic security and industrial competitiveness are also vital considerations. ...

If the collapse of consumer electronics could be dismissed in some circles as a low-wage, commodity industry without real importance to the U.S. economy, semiconductors could not. ... Following on the heels of consumer electronics, the sequence of events seemed all too familiar. Invented in the United States, semiconductors captured a worldwide market. In 1976, however, Japan launched the Very Large Scale Integration program. Ten years later the Japanese had captured 65 percent of the world market for computer memory products. The lesson learned was a hard one: even high-tech U.S. industries could be devastated in short order by foreign competition. The decline of the U.S. semiconductor industry reaffirmed the fact that leading-edge product technology by itself is not enough; process technology, world-class manufacturing capability and government-industry cooperation are also essential. ...

The broad contours of a responsive technology policy are beginning to take shape. The challenge ahead is to implement specific policies and programs that produce concrete results.