Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon January 8, 2014 at 5:37 PM EDT
Watch today's "We the Geeks" at 2:00 p.m. ET right here, or on the White House Google+ page.
Here at the White House, while we’re beginning to thaw from this week’s bone-chilling deep freeze, our discussions about the science of weather extremes are heating up.
We know that no single weather episode proves or disproves climate change. Climate refers to the patterns observed in the weather over time and space – in terms of averages, variations, and probabilities. But we also know that this week’s cold spell is of a type there’s reason to believe may become more frequent in a world that’s getting warmer, on average, because of greenhouse-gas pollution.
Join us this Friday, January 10th at 2:00 p.m. ET for We the Geeks: "Polar Vortex" and Extreme Weather, for a conversation with leading meteorologists, climate scientists, and weather experts about why temperatures dipped to such frigid lows this week, how weather experts turn raw data into useful forecasts, and what we know about extreme weather events in the context of a changing climate.
- Posted byon January 6, 2014 at 5:37 PM EDT
Note: This live event has concluded. Watch the full video below, or on YouTube.
From early personal computers to the World Wide Web to the tablets and smartphones many Americans hold so closely today, we’ve come a long way in the development of technology for computing devices and it’s safe to say it won’t stop here. This week, all eyes in the tech industry will focus on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show 2014, or CES, where we can peek into the future as new computing breakthroughs will be unveiled and showcased.
In concert with CES, and building on the moment from December’s Computer Science Education Week, join us on January 8th at 2pm ET for We the Geeks: Future of Computing, as we explore what possibilities the future of computing may bring – from wearables to Holodecks – and what’s needed to get there!
Tom Kalil and Cristin Dorgelo from the White House Office of Science and Technology will join Mark Papermaster, Chief Technology Officer at Advanced Micro Devices, Alex Kipman of Microsoft Kinect, Alicia Gibb of the Open Source Hardware Association, and Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus Rift to discuss:
- What new computing advancements might we see in the next few years? What about 10-15 years from now?
- What are the technological breakthroughs that need to happen to get there?
- And finally, what might be the impact of the ever growing intelligent connection of people, processes, data and things?
- Posted byon December 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM EDT
OSTP Director John P. Holdren delivered remarks at the opening of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division's newly renovated wave testing basin on December 19, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Navy)
OSTP Director John Holdren joined officials at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD) yesterday to mark the opening of the renovated MASK Basin facility, among the most advanced in the world. The 360-foot by 240-foot pool, featuring depths of up to 35 feet, will be used to evaluate the maneuverability and stability of precisely engineered scale models up to 30 feet in length. Those models can be towed at a variety of angles at speeds of up to 15 knots—a capacity that promises to reduce development costs and speed the design and deployment of new ships and other advanced systems for the high seas.
“There should be absolutely no doubt that the investment the Nation is making here at Carderock in this upgraded facility will pay for itself many times over, as the MASK’s technical capacity gets leveraged with the ingenuity of the Navy scientists and engineers and their partners who will be working here,” Dr. Holdren said at yesterday’s ribbon cutting, which featured a dramatic demonstration of the multiple wave forms the tank is capable of producing. “I want to commend Navy leadership for having the vision—and the perseverance—to ensure completion of this important and exciting project.”
- Posted byon December 18, 2013 at 3:16 PM EDTEarlier this month, a group of more than 60 participants from across Mexico and the United States convened in Tlaxcala, Mexico for a two-day “TechCamp” to brainstorm innovative solutions to combat human trafficking. The workshop brought together expert technologists and civil society organizations that are working with victims on the ground to design low-cost, easy-to-implement tools to combat trafficking. The TechCamp was led by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of eDiplomacy at the U.S. State Department.This anti-trafficking TechCamp is part of a series of new commitments launched in September by the Administration to continue the fight against human trafficking.At the kickoff of the workshop, participants convened at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City where we were joined by National Human Rights Commission President Dr. Raul Plascensia, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Advisor Felipe De La Torre, and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne.During the next two-days, participants engaged in interactive training sessions, brainstormed solutions to combat trafficking, and developed projects to assist advocacy organizations and trafficking victims.Below are some of the project ideas that were developed throughout the TechCamp:• Utilize “data scraping” tools to survey local areas and populations to understand which are most affected by trafficking;• Create an online missing persons database, built using public input that can be submitted anonymously to protect participants, and targeted toward Mexican states that have notoriously high numbers of women and girls sold into the sex trade; and• Create a secure online platform that non-government organizations can use to share best practices and protocols for aiding victims, while ensuring the safety of victims and care providers.At the conclusion of the TechCamp, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico also committed to invest resources in tools, conferences, and other mechanisms to foster the work that began at the TechCamp.These tech camps are just one way that the Administration is leveraging technology to turn the tables on traffickers and provide much-needed services to victims and survivors of modern-day slavery. To learn more about what the President and his administration are doing to combat human trafficking, please visit www.wh.gov/EndTrafficking.We know there is much work to be done, and we are committed to continuing to bring more groups and individuals into the fight against trafficking so that we can put an end to this injustice both at home and abroad.TechCamp Mexico was led by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, in collaboration with UNODC, The White House, and the Office of eDiplomacy at the U.S. State Department.
TechCamp Mexico participants gather for a group photo at the end of the two day session (Photo by U.S. State Department) December 19, 2013.For more information on U.S. State Department led TechCamps, please visit http://techcampglobal.org.Vivian Graubard is an Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Pritam Kabe is a Technology Analyst at the Office of eDiplomacy at the U.S. Department of State
- Posted byon December 18, 2013 at 10:44 AM EDT
Today, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter report to the President about opportunities for advanced education technologies to improve educational outcomes and lower costs in higher education. The report, which builds on insights from PCAST members and additional outside experts, underscores the promise of new high-tech educational tools and advocates for continued experimentation in the education technology domain.
Access to higher education is an important pathway to success in almost any field. According to a report released earlier this month by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, over the past decade, tuition and fees at public, four-year colleges have risen 5.1% per year faster than the rate of inflation. This troubling trend puts a college education out of reach for many young people in America, especially those from middle-class or low-income families.
In its new report, PCAST explores the potential of recent advances in technology—with a focus on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)—to expand access to higher education opportunities and to address other challenges facing America’s higher education system.
PCAST recommends three key steps the Federal Government can take to derive maximum benefits from new education technologies:
- Let market forces decide which innovations in online teaching and learning are best. PCAST discourages the premature imposition of standards and regulations that could impede the power of competitive market forces to spur innovation in the educational technology sector, and recommends that the Federal Government encourage innovation by letting the market for these technologies work.
- Encourage accrediting bodies to be flexible in response to educational innovation. PCAST recommends that the Federal Government urge regional accrediting entities to be flexible in setting standards for online degrees to accommodate new pedagogical approaches and to avoid stunting the growth of a burgeoning industry.
- Support research and the sharing of results on effective teaching and learning. PCAST advocates for more research into how technology can best foster learning for the broadest possible range of students, taking advantage of the data-collection features of new high-tech tools. PCAST also calls for the development of a national exchange mechanism for these data to accelerate research and enable adaptation of teaching to suit the various types of learners.
NIH Announces $40M in Research Funding Opportunities to Advance the Administration's BRAIN InitiativePosted byon December 17, 2013 at 6:16 PM EDT
Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it is releasing solicitations that will provide $40 million in research funding to advance the Administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, which President Obama unveiled on April 2, 2013.
As President Obama noted at a White House launch event, the goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to give “scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember.” This initiative will not only improve our understanding of the how the brain works, it also promises to improve our ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases of the brain.
The new solicitations will provide funding for researchers to:
- Generate an inventory of the different types of cell types in the brain;
- Develop new tools to analyze the complex circuits that are responsible for brain function by delivering genes, proteins and chemicals to particular cells;
- Develop new approaches to record the activity of large numbers of neurons in any location in the brain, and improve existing technologies so they can be widely adopted by neuroscientists;
- Understand large-scale neural circuits by integrating experimental, analytical, and theoretical approaches; and
- Form teams to develop the next generation of non-invasive imaging technologies.
These solicitations support many of the research topics identified as priorities by an NIH working group on the BRAIN Initiative composed of leading neuroscientists, co-chaired by Dr. Cornelia Bargmann (Rockefeller University) and Dr. William Newsome (Stanford University). This working group is expected to submit its final report in the summer of 2014.
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