On June 19, 2017, the 4th Academic Salon for Ph.D. Students in Theoretical Economics in 2017 (the 32nd in history) was staged by China Center for Special Economic Zone Research (CCSEZR), Shenzhen University (SZU) at Maoshuli Café near the West Gate of SZU. Prof. Hallam Stevens, a Harvard Ph.D. degree holder, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, and a visiting scholar at CCSEZR, delivered an inspiring speech titled “Silicon Valley and California Ideology”. The academic event was chaired by the CCSEZR deputy director - Prof. Yuan Yiming, and attended by some teachers and graduate students at the CCSEZR. Prof. Yuan Yiming started the salon by extending a warm welcome to Prof. Hallam Stevens on behalf of the CCSEZR for his speech and two-month academic visit at SZU.
Prof. Hallam Stevens started his speech with the following questions: Why is Silicon Valley the womb of many technological breakthroughs? Why has Silicon Valley been dominating the advances in global information technology since 1950s? Why are capital, talents, and innovation elements from around the world heavily concentrated in Silicon Valley? Prof. Hallam Stevens unfolded his speech by addressing these questions one by one.
Prof. Hallam Stevens pointed out that the US economic zones were initially concentrated in the East Coast while the West Coast was a less favored area for economic activities. Frederick Terman, who was then a professor at Stanford University with unique professional visions, debuted his Stanford University based “Venture Capital Investment” cause and later led the establishment of the Stanford Research Park, the first high-tech industrial park near a university. With a low rent, the park housed a few small tech start-ups that later grow into giants including Intel, AMD, and Amelco by applying the cutting-edge technologies developed in the university. Gradually, the US technology hub shifted from the East to the West Coast.
Following the review of Silicon Valley’s development history, Prof. Hallam Stevens moved on to his next question - “Why did Silicon Valley become such a hub for technological innovations and wealth creation in the second half of the 20th century?” He revealed that the innovations in Silicon Valley are closely associated with a value dubbed “California Ideology”, “Cyber-utopianism”, or “Cyber liberalism”, a type of spirit unique to Silicon Valley.
Meanwhile, Prof. Hallam Stevens shared his ideas on the pros and cons of technology, suggesting that whether a technology is good or bad depends not on the technology itself, but on where it is applied. Our mission is to make the world a better place and to allow everyone to live a more valuable life with the help of technologies. He further explained that “California style” innovations are developed under specific spiritual ideology and Silicon Valley innovation model has deep-rooted meanings as it was shaped at a specific time and place as a result of historic development. That sheds light on why some have unsuccessfully reproduced the success of Silicon Valley. Talking about Shenzhen, Prof. Hallam Stevens stressed that Shenzhen’s distinct values might be the key factors underpinning the innovations or even economic development of Shenzhen.
By combining interesting texts with compelling images, Prof. Hallam Stevens’s presentation of Silicon Valley innovations has aroused strong interest of audience in the boom of Silicon Valley of the USA. After the speech, he actively engaged in the discussion session, sharing his views on questions raised by the audience, including the distinctiveness of Silicon Valley innovations, lessons that Shenzhen can draw on from Silicon Valley innovations, and the values of Shenzhen innovations. Prof. Yuan Yiming, on behalf of the CCSEZR, thanked Prof. Hallam Stevens for delivering such an inspiring speech. The salon was concluded amid thunders of applause from the teachers and students present. (Correspondent: Lai Zehua)
Prof. Hallam Stevens delivers the speech
Prof. Yuan Yiming chairs the salon
The scene at the salon for Ph.D. students
Prof. Hallam Stevens and the CCSEZR graduate students
during the Q & A session