Last week the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released an Exit Memo that highlights the impact that the administration has had in “reinvigorating the American scientific technological enterprise.” Dr. John Holdren, Director of OSTP, and Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, offer actions that are needed in the near term to broaden participation in science, technology, and innovation to continue driving prosperity. The first action identified is:
Investing in fundamental research, the fundamental, curiosity-driven inquiry that is a hallmark of the American research enterprise and a powerful driver of new technology and innovation in the medium and long term.
Holdren and Smith also highlight 20 science and technology frontiers to continue driving US innovation and address major societal needs. The computing research community plays a significant role in many of these frontiers, and the CCC has been actively working on several of these frontiers, including:
- Investing in neuroscience and neurotechnology. Since April 2013, the BRAIN Initiative®—Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies —has catalyzed more than $1.5 billion in public and private funds for novel neurotechnologies aimed at revolutionizing understanding of the human brain.
- Building smart communities and the Internet of Things. The White House Smart Cities Initiative has invested nearly $350 million from multiple Federal agencies in research and technology deployment in communities, with over 70 participating communities.
- The CCC has produced two white papers, System Computing Challenges in the Internet of Things and Smart Communities Internet of Things.
- Understanding the potential of AI, machine learning, and big data. The Administration published a public report on AI, Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence, accompanied by a National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan.
- The CCC also has an active AI and Robotics Task Force, which provides a mechanism for articulating both the state of the art and technical limitations of AI. The CCC co-hosted an AI Workshop, Artificial Intelligence for Social Good, with OSTP and AAAI. In this workshop, the successful deployments and the potential use of AI in various topics that are essential for social good were discussed, including but not limited to urban computing, health, environmental sustainability, and public welfare. An initial report can be found here, with a full version to be released soon.
- Developing robotics and intelligent systems. Robotics and intelligent systems are technologies that seek to advance physical computational agents that complement, augment, enhance, or emulate human physical capabilities or human intelligence, and have the capacity to improve lives and advance the Nation’s economy. The National Robotics Initiative (NRI) was launched in 2011 and renewed in 2016, as a multi-agency initiative.
- In 2009, the CCC released A Roadmap for US Robotics, From Internet to Robotics (Robotics Roadmap). The Robotics Roadmap explored the capacity of robotics to act as a key economic enabler, specifically in the areas of manufacturing, healthcare, and in the service industry, 5, 10, and 15 years into the future and was influential in developing 2011’s National Robotics Initiative (NRI). An updated version of the Robotics Roadmap was released in November, 2016 and it expands on the topics discussed in the 2009 roadmap as well as addressing the areas of public safety, earth science, and workforce develop. You can read the full 2016 roadmap here.
- Investing in strategic computing. The National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) was created in July 2015, at President Obama’s request, to ensure continued U.S. leadership in high-performance computing (HPC) and to maximize the benefits of HPC for the economy, scientific discovery, and national security.
- This CCC whitepaper, titled Opportunities and Challenges for Next Generation Computing, articulates some opportunities and challenges for dramatic performance improvements of both personal to national scale computing, and discusses some “out of the box” possibilities for achieving computing at this scale.
The CCC will continue to drive innovation by catalyzing shared interests among the public, industry, government, and computing research community. We welcome opportunities to work with these stakeholders to advance science and technology frontiers that meet the needs of our nation and society at large.