Dear Mr. President

Top IT luminaries demand action from the next administration.

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Ed Lazowska

Professor of computer science and engineering, University of Washington, Seattle; former chairman of the President's IT Advisory Committee

1. Restore integrity to U.S. science policy. It is essential that federal policy benefit from the most complete, accurate and honest scientific and technological information available. The current administration has stacked scientific advisory boards, suppressed research that conflicts with its political agenda, prevented government scientists from speaking openly with the public and the media, failed to utilize the best available evidence to guide policy, and generally denigrated science, evidence and objectivity.

2. Double, over a 10-year period, the federal investment in fundamental research by key science agencies. Essentially every aspect of IT upon which we rely today traces its roots to federally sponsored research. The current administration has decreased federal support for fundamental research in all fields.

3. Make a national commitment to science education at all levels -- K-12, undergraduate, graduate and retraining. Nothing is more important than the education of the next generation. America is losing ground.

4. Make the R&D tax credit permanent.

5. Use technology to address these "grand challenges" of the 21st century: achieving energy independence; addressing climate change; feeding the people of America and the world; enhancing national security; further improving human health, life expectancy and quality of life; restoring and improving our urban infrastructure; protecting our environment. Each is critical; none is optional. Each requires major new advances in science and technology.

Victor Zue

Director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; adviser to the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation

At a time of worldwide economic, geopolitical and social challenges, the next president must ensure our continuing preeminence in IT and computer science. Historically, revolutionary achievements -- the Internet, mobile communication, parallel computing, graphical user interfaces -- typically originated from university research and often took more than a decade to realize a $1 billion market.

Therefore, the administration must significantly increase its budget for long-term, fundamental research, e.g., by doubling the NSF budget annually for the next four years. We must invest in educating the next generation of IT and computer science professionals. This will require introducing courses in high school and ensuring that those who would like to enter the field can afford it.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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