white house

White House National S&T Council Addresses Future Artificial Intelligence R&D, Public Policy

As artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to become an increasingly large contributor to future U.S. economic growth, policymakers must be thoughtful about the technology’s implications related to federal R&D strategy, societal benefits, and public policy, according to two recently released reports authored by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence describes: how AI technology can help to advance social good and improve the way government operates; how regulations that affect AI technologies can be adapted to encourage innovation while simultaneously protecting the public interest; how to best ensure how AI applications can be fair, safe, and governable; and, the importance of developing a skilled workforce around AI technology. The report is accompanied by a National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan, which outlines the government’s role in funding AI R&D.

Cancer Moonshot Requires Funding Infusion

While progress has been made, challenges remain in the goal to advance cancer research, according to the Cancer Moonshot report Vice President Joe Biden delivered to the White House on Monday. The “Cancer Moonshot” is the current administration’s effort to accelerate 10 years’ worth of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment into just five. The Washington Post detailed remaining challenges, including a lack of coordination among researchers, outdated funding cultures and slow dissemination of information regarding new treatments. The White House has urged Congress to approve $1 billion in funding for the effort, along with money for other health initiatives and the National Institutes of Health.

White House Announces Proposed New Rule for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Immigrant entrepreneurs would be allowed to remain in the United States for an initial period of up to two years, and, conditional upon meeting certain benchmarks, could potentially stay in the country for one additional period of up to three years under a newly proposed rule by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As part of the International Entrepreneur Rule, which is now open for a 45-day comment period, certain international entrepreneurs would have an opportunity to start or scale their businesses in the United States.  

White House: Student Loan-Debt Helps U.S. Economy

A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers provides a broad overview of student loan-debt in the United States and yields some potentially surprising conclusions: while the $1.3 trillion in total student-loan debt in the U.S. may seem like a staggering amount, the authors of Investing in Higher Education: Benefits, Challenges, and the State of Student Loan Debt contend that this is helping, not hurting the nation’s economy. The authors posit that college is best viewed as an investment that typically yields a high return, even with the high upfront costs.

White House, Civic Partnerships Celebrate National Week of Making

This week, the White House is celebrating its third National Week of Making – an important part of its Nation of Makers initiative that seeks to expand opportunities for students and adults to engage with the maker movement. In addition to numerous commitments and announcements made at federal agencies, several other projects rooted in strong partnerships were announced. These include the distribution of a million microscopes to children from around the world by Foldscope Instruments, the investment in 100 new makerspaces by Google and Chevron, and the release of the Maker City Playbook.

Winner of New Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, New MII Competitions Announced

President Obama announced  the creation of the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (Smart MII) – a $140 million public-private partnership to develop smart sensors for use in advanced manufacturing. Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) – a consortium of nearly 200 partners from academia and industry as well as nonprofit organizations – will lead the Smart MII. The Smart MII is the ninth MII awarded by the Obama administration. The president also announced five additional MII competitions, which are intended to invest nearly $800 million in combined federal and non-federal resources to support transformative manufacturing technologies in four areas:

White House Rolls Out Plans to Connect Young Americans With High-Skill Jobs

The White House recently released a preview of its plans to build a stronger pipeline between K-12 education and high-skill employment. The President’s Computer Science for All Initiative would boost investment in states, districts and teacher training to improve computer science (CS) education for K-12 students. The three-year, $4 billion plan would also call on multiple federal agencies to focus investments on improving CS skills. The president also proposed nearly $6 billion in new funding to help young people acquire skills and access to high-quality job opportunities. Much of this support would come through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act youth formula program, with $2 billion in additional support though programs for at-risk students, $200 million for apprenticeship programs and $20 million for the Summer Jobs and Beyond program. Funding for both initiatives will be included in the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget request next week.

President Turns Spotlight on Innovation in Final State of the Union

In the days leading up to his final State of the Union Address, President Obama hinted that in lieu of the usual wishlist of policy proposals he would lay out his take on the issues that will define American public life over the next few decades. These issues took the form of four big questions, the first two of which directly relate to the work of tech-based economic development professionals. First, what are the building blocks needed to ensure that all Americans have access to opportunity and security in the new economy? Second, how do the U.S. and the world best employ technology to solve the biggest challenges facing mankind? Though there were few specific policy ideas, the White House has provided information on ongoing projects and accomplishments related to all four questions asked by the president at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/01/12/back-work-what-comes-after-presidents-final-state-union-address.

White House Announces Four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs

As a part of the Obama administration’s Big Data Research and Development Initiative, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced four awards this week, totaling more than $5 million, to establish four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs). The four BD Hubs divide the U.S. into regional collaborations, each focused on different Big Data challenges:

White House Updates Strategy to Bolster U.S. Innovation Economy

This week, the National Economic Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released an update to the White House strategy document on fueling the U.S. innovation economy. A Strategy for American Innovation includes a model of the nation’s innovation engine that sheds some light on how the federal government views its role in research and economic growth. For example, digital government initiatives play a key role, alongside investing in basic research, digital infrastructure and STEM education.  In a related post, OSTP framed the release as the culmination of several weeks of events around the idea of open innovation. The strategy emphasizes the use of crowd-based models and prizes for scientific breakthroughs. Read A Strategy for American Innovation


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