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Good news. The computer industry is not dead

SAN FRANCISCO -- A small, but attentive audience gathered here for the morning keynote by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author ("[Closing the Innovation Gap](http://www.theinnovationgap.com/)) Judy Estrin here at the Software Summit sponsored by the [Software & Industry Information Association.
](http://www.siia.net/softsummit/2009/schedule.asp)

[Estrin ](/bus-news/article.php/3808971/Confronting+the+Tech+Innovation+Deficit.htm)warned the audience of software developers and others that there are a number of fundamental problems wrong with the economy and infrastructure that are holding back innovation and the larger economy. And while computers and communications technology have long been the main drivers of growth, that's changing.

"I believe in the future the key drivers will be different, said Estrin. "Clearly energy and the environment are key areas and also healthcare -- that's different than just medicine but the delivery of those systems and how to provide it. And there are other drivers we don't even know of yet.

"That doesn't mean the computer industry is dead. But you have to be thinking more about interdisciplinary ways to address these new problems."

Estrin doesn't think globabilization is bad for the U.S. economy in theory, but it could be if we don't start measuring up.

"Closing the innovation gap is not about the U.S. versus other countries, we want the whole world to be innovative. But it's a disaster if others are innovative and we're not. You don't partner well from a position of weakness, but one of strength."

**Beware patent trolls**

Estrin also had a few choice words about patents which she said are not a good measure of innovation at a company. "It shouldn't be the sole measure of innovation because a lot of companies don't do anything with those patents," she said. "And there's a lot of innovation in open source and elsewhere that isn't patentable."

She also called for patent reform, noting so-called "patent trolls" are becoming a big problem. "This is patenting without bringing a product to market. It' just like the trading and flipping we saw on Wall Street. This is activity that does not drive innovation."

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