This courtesy of the Wall Street Journal – America’s tech giants are broadening their sights from the digital to the physical world in a bid to expand their influence, and their bottom lines. They promise to reinvent everything from cars to thermostats to contact lenses.

Yet in a sign of how innovation is stalling broadly in the American economy, they are finding their new terrain far harder to control than their familiar digital turf.

Alphabet’s 58 self-driving cars have traveled 2.2 million miles, but they are still flummoxed by snow. Its high-altitude balloons designed to beam internet to remote areas have sometimes crashed in shreds, baffling engineers. Facebook is struggling to launch solar-powered drones to beam internet connections via lasers.

In software, programmers can control their environment. The physical world is messy and unpredictable.

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