Innovation may be “the only national strategy” the U.S. can have, but what about the jobs?

When you’re the head of the Consumer Electronics Association – the trade body for much of the U.S. tech industry – what gets you up in the morning? Innovation, of course, as CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro said on Wednesday, in the first session of this year’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco.

But of course, things aren’t quite so simple – as Shapiro acknowledged.

On the one hand, he noted how “every innovation is affecting someone else’s business model,” and proudly proclaimed the U.S. tech industry’s best moment as the time in 2012 when it stood up to defeat the copyright-industry-backed SOPA and PIPA bills. “Innovation is the only national strategy we can have,” he said.

However, when asked by Om about the thorny issue of jobs being displaced by technological innovation, he agreed that was a problem.

“I keep wondering about that,” Shapiro said. “I have been in factories around the world, and these factory jobs – and I’ve worked in a factory – these jobs are not jobs that educated Americans will want to take… [but] we can’t just become a society of security guards and fast-food workers.”

“I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I do believe that’s not a reason to stop innovation from occurring.”

Indeed, this tension is perhaps one that has always been and always will, but each time it comes around, it requires fixing. This new wave of innovation is no different.

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:
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A transcription of the video follows on the next page