One of the most important things that the U.S. can do to improve economic growth is to invest in artificial intelligence, or A.I., said the White House, in a new report. But there's a dark side to this assessment as well. A.I.-driven, intelligent systems have the potential to displace millions, such as truck drivers, from their jobs. But potential negative impacts can be offset by investments in education as well as by ensuring there is a safety net to help affected people, the White House argued, in what will likely be the Obama administration's final report on technology policy.
Researchers facing a severe shortage of government and foundation funding are increasingly using crowd-funding to get their projects off the ground. It works like this: An idea or research project is posted online, usually with a catchy video telling a story. People then donate money to fund the project. Each project has a deadline for fundraising. So if scientists don’t meet their goals, they don’t get any of the donated money.
The NDAA authorizes a total of $618.7 billion in spending, including more than $67 billion for a war fund known as the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account. That’s $3.2 billion more than Obama requested for OCO, which will be used for base budget items such as a 2.1 percent pay raise for troops and increases in the number of troops for Army, Marines and Air Force.
Federal departments and agencies, including the science agencies and programs, will now face uncertainty about the total funds they have to spend for the upcoming year. They will likely respond by spending conservatively in the first months of 2017 as a precaution. In addition, they will be barred from starting new programs or stopping old ones and from implementing funding increases submitted in the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget request.
The U.S. remains a powerhouse of research and development. As the National Science Foundation reported in September, total national R&D funding from all sources reached nearly $500 billion in 2015, more than any nation has ever spent on it in one year. The share supplied by industry also reached a record-high 69%. This is excellent news.
The White House announced on Monday new initiatives to bolster computer science in K–12 education. Citing the rapidly expanding demand for technology jobs, the Obama administration outlined new efforts by two federal agencies: The National Science Foundation plans to spend $20 million on computer science education in 2017, on top the the $25 million it spent in 2016, with an emphasis on training teachers.
The awards, made through the NSF Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR) Core Research Program (ECR), focus on projects that help the educational community understand, explain and address challenges in STEM learning and participation. EHR funded a total of 67 projects through ECR awards in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, with the goal of accelerating the directorate's efforts to strategically and broadly improve STEM teaching and learning.
Wednesday, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced $76 million in research grants through its Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program to study the scientific, engineering and socio-technical aspects of cybersecurity. The grants support 241 projects across 36 states and 129 institutions, and touch on all aspects of the field.
The House on Wednesday passed a medical innovation bill aimed at curing diseases, with the measure securing bipartisan support after months of negotiations. The legislation, known as the 21st Century Cures Act, passed 392-26. It seeks to speed up the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of new drugs while investing new money in medical research.
Congress is poised to approve a massive piece of legislation that would provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with $4.8 billion over the next decade for a set of research initiatives, including brain and cancer research and efforts to develop so-called precision medicine treatments that are tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup.