Entertainment Superpower

U.S. broadcasters benefit from their economies of scale, and the United States dominates cultural copyright exports to Europe with a sizable trade surplus. In fact, the U.S. media and entertainment sectors are the only American sectors that boast a surplus balance of trade with nearly every nation in the world.

Military surveillance, targeting, and weapons systems use technology that was developed primarily for motion pictures and entertainment software or the consumer electronics market.

The U.S. government currently employs Panavision's 300x compound zoom lens for military surveillance. According to an interview I conducted with Bob Harvey, senior vice president of worldwide sales at Panavision, federal contracts with the U.S. State Department are the fastest growing segment of Panavision's business.

Hollywood and video games drive the development of high-speed, high-resolution digital image capture, management, transmission, and display that have implications for fields where these advanced technological applications would be economically unviable to develop on their own.

Entertainment software has led to faster introduction and deployment of processors, broadband networks, and high definition disks like HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. But, "IBM places value on chips made for entertainment software that goes beyond revenue and profits," says Dr. John Kelly, senior vice president and group executive for IBM Technology Group: "These chips help drive technology in other areas."

The Mercury Computer's CELL based blade server, for example, can handle the requirements of sonar and radar computation for military or scientific applications, because of its ability to process real time data streams. "The Cell BE processor was originally designed for the volume home entertainment market," says Craig Lund, chief technology officer of Mercury Computer Systems, "but its architecture of nine heterogeneous on-chip cores is well-suited to the type of distributed, real-time processing that will power tomorrow's digital battlefield."

The U.S. military hegemony is based on the ability of the U.S. Navy to dominate the world's oceans (due partially to the superior numbers and technology of U.S. naval vessels that are augmented by U.S. dominance in space-based reconnaissance technology) made possible in part by entertainment software consumers and movie goers world-wide.

Alexa O'Brien Alexa O'Brien is a investigative journalist. Her work has been published in The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian UK, Salon, The Daily Beast, and featured on the BBC, PBS Frontline, On The Media, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the UK and listed in The Verge 50.