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China Fast Forward: The Technologies, Green Industries and Innovations Driving the Mainland's Future by Bill Dodson

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Afterword

The Curse of Steve Jobs

The world is in no doubt about the contributions to personal technology innovation that Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple Computer, made to modern society. The iPad, for instance, finally pried open the market for notepads after decades of promise. The device gave me handy and timely access to news, information, and entertainment that was otherwise very difficult to access on the wrong side of the Great Firewall of China. With Jobs’s passing, thousands of Chinese laid wreaths at Apple shops in China and passed their condolences on to store staff. Some fans openly wept. Millions of others lamented through “tweets” on the Chinese online Weibo service that China had no Steve Jobs to offer the world.

The chairman of the Chinese Museum of Finance, Wang Wei, responded bluntly in the wake of Jobs’s death in 2011: “In a society with an authoritarian political system, monopolistic business environment, backward-looking culture, and prevalent technology theft, talking about a master of innovation? Not a chance! Don’t even think about it.”1 However, creating a social, political, and economic environment that could foster individuals with the vision of a Steve Jobs may be misdirected. Serious challenges lay ahead in the continued development of China’s society and for post-industrial society at large. Jobs preached and practiced money-spinning gadget-innovation. This approach to invention is not the right sort to resolve the pressing issues of ecological degradation ...

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