Dear Mr. President

Top IT luminaries demand action from the next administration.

The current economic turmoil obscures a long-term problem that may shape the future of America long after the present crisis is over.

By most measures, the U.S. is in a decade-long decline in global technological competitiveness. The reasons are many and complex, but central among them is the country's retreat from long-term basic research in science and technology.

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have expressed few personal views about science and technology, but they have outlined some broad policy proposals and goals, and both have outlined educational reforms that they say will make the U.S. more competitive in science and technology.

Computerworld asked nine high-tech luminaries to offer their advice to the next U.S. president. Their answers appear below, in their own words. These comments represent the views of the individuals and not necessarily those of their employers.

Vinton Cerf

Chief Internet evangelist, Google Inc.; Internet pioneer

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, aircraft and spacecraft bodies.

5. Initiate a crash program to analyze the effects of global warming on coastal regions and prepare responses.

6. Increase funding for weather data collection, analysis and prediction to cope with effects of global warming.

7. Develop a new K-12 educational program for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

8. Make permanent the R&D tax credit, and initiate a credit for use of renewable energy.

9. Strengthen the SEC and revisit banking regulations to prevent a repeat of the subprime mortgage and derivative security disaster.

10. Prepare for the massive wave of retiring baby boomers in the decade ahead.

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