Dear Mr. President: Let's talk tech
Top IT luminaries demand action from the next administration
Computerworld - Science and technology may not have been the focus of the recent debates between presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama, but both candidates have outlined some broad policy proposals and goals. That's a good thing, because, as some of the top technology thinkers in the United States today recently shared with Computerworld, the next president will have to tackle the country's ongoing decline in global technological competitiveness.
Obama says he'll "change the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology." He has promised to double federal funding of basic research over 10 years, to appoint the nation's first chief technology officer, to make the R&D tax credit for corporations permanent and to "restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees."
McCain has not said directly what he might do about the level of federal spending on research, but he has said he favors technology-friendly policies aimed at the private sector through "broad pools of capital, low taxes and incentives for research in America...and streamlining burdensome regulations." He says he'd make the R&D tax credit permanent and set it equal to 10% of the wages a company pays its R&D workers, and he says he'd allow companies to write off the cost of new technology and equipment in the first year.
Both candidates have outlined educational reforms that they say will make the U.S. more competitive in science and technology.
Computerworld recently asked nine high-tech luminaries to offer their advice to the next U.S. president. Their answers appear below. They represent the views of the individuals and not necessarily those of their employers.
Adjunct professor and executive director, Center for Open Innovation, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
The economic situation is as bad as it has been in decades. Innovation must be at the forefront of economic policies in [the new] administration. Innovation is widely distributed around the world, not concentrated in a few large firms in the U.S. alone. So policies must promote the division of innovation labor. These include support for start-ups and small businesses. Universities and national labs must be allowed to engage with industry on translating research results into commercial products. Markets for the sale and resale of intellectual property must be supported. Open initiatives must be promoted, especially where government can help set industry standards.
The environment for innovation must also be enhanced. More money must be appropriated for basic research. Ph.D. graduates should receive green cards to allow them to stay in the U.S. H1-B visas should be expanded. The R&D tax credit should be made permanent. And a new initiative in alternative energy led by the government -- but involving universities, industry, venture capitalists, nonprofits and research labs -- should be started immediately.
CEO, JLabs LLC; author of Closing the Innovation Gap
The future of our economy and our quality of life will depend on our ability to sustain a culture that supports and promotes the ability to innovate. The nation faces major challenges -- energy independence and climate change, national security and the need for affordable, quality health care -- that threaten our future. Each of these challenges also brings opportunities, if we give innovation the attention it deserves.
One of the most crucial roles of the next administration will be to foster the right environment for innovation through wise funding and smart policy. But it must also re-energize the nation by embracing these challenges, providing a vision to inspire and engage the country at large, and bring out the innovator in each of us.
Internet pioneer; chief Internet evangelist, Google Inc.
We must take a global leadership role on energy and global warming. We should:
1. Focus our national R&D capacity on developing renewable energy at costs competitive with coal.
2. Continue work on clean coal and restart nuclear power development.
3. Begin a major campaign for reduction in fossil fuel consumption: 100 mpg hybrids and all-electric transportation.
4. Charge DARPA with development of new, lightweight, strong materials for automobile, air- and spacecraft bodies.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Why Projects Fail
- CIOs are expected to deliver more projects that transform business, and do so on time, on budget and with limited resources.
- The New Business Case for Video Conferencing: 7 Real-World Benefits Beyond Cost-Savings
- This whitepaper provides insight into the value of video conferencing in today's business environment, and how organizations are using visual collaboration to find...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools
- The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution
- In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence... All Government IT White Papers
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- How to Protect Enterprise Data Yet Enable Secure Access for End Users Learn how BYOD, Big Data and the use of rogue applications and devices is putting corporate data at risk, best practices from IT...
- All Government IT Webcasts