Last week, a group of high-tech CEOs converged on Washington to warn policy leaders that America's competitiveness is at risk because of profound changes in the global economy. The executives are part of a network called TechNet. They've created an Innovation Policy Agenda that they hope will help maintain U.S. global leadership through policies that encourage entrepreneurship, job creation, and economic growth by strengthening innovation. Among some of their troubling findings: the U.S. is way behind other countries in deploying broadband networks; R&D investment is flat here but soaring elsewhere; U.S. students are behind their counterparts in other countries in math, science. and engineering. These aren't brand-new worries or concerns, but ones that need constant attention.
Hats off to all promoting this aggressive agenda. Hopefully, the entire industry can embrace it, and it won't be left to policies that Congress must enact. Hats off, also, to the countries that are driving innovation through technology and educational advancements. They're helping build a robust global economy, but the U.S. shouldn't let its foundation of innovation crack.
Further evidence for concern can be found in this week's cover story by senior writer Aaron Ricadela, who explores the impact that funding cuts could have on U.S. supercomputing research centers. The National Science Foundation has created a new program called "shared cyberinfrastructure," which will direct investment toward establishing a nexus of supercomputers, high-speed networks, distributed databases, and middleware that can be shared. Critics say it's underfunded and puts too much emphasis on experimental techniques. Is the NSF headed down the wrong path? How much time does the U.S. have to figure out a consistent long-term strategy before it falls behind?
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