American technology leadership: We can’t take it for granted

The speed and power of technology is advancing at a rapid pace and making our lives better, whether it is in our pockets, embedded in our clothes or runningsmarter cars and cities. Driven by Silicon Valley and the other great technology and R&D clusters in America, this should be a great source of pride to us all.

We often attribute the exponential advancement of technology to Moore’s Law, which predicts the regular doubling of computing power. But Moore’s law is not a law of nature, it’s an aspiration realized only through effort and commitment. As a country, we cannot take it for granted. American technology leadership depends on a national commitment to invest in science, push its limits and inspire our students with the marvels of what we can accomplish.

{mosads}Congress has an opportunity to rise to this challenge. The America COMPETES Act will help strengthen the foundation of America’s technological and economic future. The Senate CommerceCommittee’s bipartisan Innovation and Competitiveness Working Group, led by Senators Cory Gardner and Gary Peters, has come together to advance America’s vital economic interests in today’s innovation-based global economy.

Signed into law by President Bush in 2007 and reauthorized by President Obama in 2011, the America COMPETES Act provides critical investment for research and development at labs and universities across the country; supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education; and encourages public-private partnerships that help translate groundbreaking research in the lab to development in the real world.

We know how important this is because for nine years since the America COMPETES Act was first enacted, we have seen it work. And we can’t slow down now. Investment today will determine America’s future place in the world.

The America COMPETES Act, with champions such as Senators Lamar Alexander, Bill Nelson and John Thune, will increase and expand national investment in STEM education, supporting teachers and training the next generation of American innovators to compete. A bicameral and bipartisan commitment is a paramount consideration now to move the greater scientific interests of our country forward.

Investment in research and development is the catalyst for world-changing advances. The first transistor built by Bell Labs in 1947 was put together by hand. Since then, relentless innovation and billions of dollars in private sector R&D have created a world run by microchips. Today, more than 6 million of Intel’s 22 nanometer tri-gate transistors could fit in the period at the end of this sentence. While the practical applications are obvious—and all around us—today, decades of physics research and exploratory science led to that first transistor.

The next transformational beginnings – the discoveries we don’t expect – will come from pure science, the basic research that has long term potential, but limited near-term commercial applications. Public-private partnerships are critical to success, and the America COMPETES Act plays a significant role in supporting collaboration between industry and government, including organizations like NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy Office of Science.

Working together, we can lead the world not only in innovation and economic growth, but in tackling the big challenges we face – climate change, healthcare and energy. If we don’t work together, we risk ceding the next transformational breakthroughs to competing nations around the world.

The United States has pioneered world-changing technology innovation for decades, driven by an entrepreneurial scientific spirit and unprecedented national investment in research and development. By providing steady and sustained funding through reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act, Congress has an opportunity to secure that future for the next generation.


Peter Cleveland is Vice President of Intel Corporation’s Government and Policy Group

Tags Bill Nelson Cory Gardner John Thune Lamar Alexander

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