Thomas Kalil, Chief Innovation Officer at Schmidt Futures and former Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Obama Administration, discusses some of the science and technology policy priorities of President Obama – including STEM education, identifying and pursuing 21st-Century Grand Challenges, such as the BRAIN Initiative, and increasing R&D in critical technologies such as robotics, advanced materials, and Big Data. He also discusses “lessons learned” from his service at the White House and address future challenges for U.S. science and technology policy.
Michael Barr on the Joan and
Sanford while dean of the Gerald R.
Ford School of Public Policy I'm really
delighted to welcome you all here for
our city foundation lecture and policy
talks at the ford school event today
featuring Tom Colicchio in 2000 the city
foundation through a generous and
dad gift establish the city foundation
lecture series the lecture series
honoring President Ford's long affiliation
with Citi Group brings prominent
policymakers from the national and
international arenas to the ford school
each year to engage students and faculty
in dialogue and to give a public address
Tom Colicchio is one of our country's
leading experts on technology and
innovation policy and it's an honor
to have him here with us today Tom
served in the Clinton administration as
the deputy assistant to the president for
technology and economic policy while
doing double duty as the deputy
director of the White House National
Economic Council working on technology and
communications issues and nanotechnology
initiatives he continued his role at
the forefront of science technology and or
President Obama as the deputy director for
the White House Office of Science and
Technology Policy working on initiatives
across the range of the White House
activities from learning technology
data science robotics to STEM education.
In that role and in these roles and
in other parts of his career
Tom serves as a role model for
an advocate of scientific advancement
let me take a moment to mention.
Many of you this room are part of the
Ford School of Science and Technology and
Public Policy Program on this is a program
that really takes on the ability to help
provide our students and our faculty with
the tools to analyze complex science and
technology policy issues deeply connected
to career and his I think distinguished
career that I've just given you little
highlights of today at his request.
Suggests the advancement of
the ways in which science policy
really needs to be
brought into this broader
room of social science ethics
values public policy and
economics today Tom is continuing
at work in the private sphere
as the chief innovation officer at Schmidt
futures an exciting new philanthropy
that Tom will undoubtedly mention
let me just say a word about format
we're going to have some time toward
the end from questions for the audience or
as Tom said maybe closer to the beginning
for questions from the audience I'm so
happy to engage with that we have
joy Rody here who's the Ford School
associate professor an interim
director of the Science Technology and
Public Policy Program to Ford school
students Celine says Carl had
she who will sift through your question
cards and pose them to our guest for
those of you who are watching
online police tweet your questions
using the hash tag policy
talks now it is my great
pleasure to welcome Tom Colicchio to
the podium Tom I turn it over to you.
Thank you is everyone fired up and
ready to go all right
so it's great to be here in an arbor and
Dean bar thank you very much for
that kind introduction
my father would have been proud and
my mother would have believed it.
So I'm going to talk about my
experience in the working for
the Obama administration in the area
of Science and Technology Policy and
give you some examples of
both specific initiatives
that President Obama was
involved in in launching.
And reflect on some general lessons
learned from that experience and
then I want to make sure that we have
plenty of time for for questions.
So just to say a little
bit about how I was up
as an advisor to President Obama and
The was really all a path dependent
consequence of a decision I made in
president campaign so I wanted up
working in the issues Department
which is sort of like boot camp for
people who want to work on public policy
because what would routinely happen
is that you're given some very short
period of time from a few hours to
if you're lucky a couple of days
to try to get up to speed rapidly
on some public policy issue and
then figure out what is the $1.00 to $2.00
pages that you think the candidate really
needs in order to be a wonder
standing issue and believe it or
not this was pretty Google you know so
dinosaurs were still roaming the earth so
we actually had to call people on
the phone and if you're running
the if you're in the issues department of
a campaign it means you're responsible for
coming up with new ideas so that the
candidate can say if elected I will do X.
we have to come up with the X.
To manage networks of outside advisors.
So that if some question came up
that would be there was someone that
would be able to turn to to
get the candidate ready for
debates to ensure that they are familiar
with the issues that they're going
to that voters are going to be asking
them as they travel around the country
so in 1988 they would get the candidates
would get questions of about the auto
industry if they went to Michigan or
the semiconductor industry they would
they went to Northern California.
Trying to ensure that the.
The campaign and.
Ads were at least reasonably accurate.
Then also we would get
flooded with questionnaires
by every interest group under the sun so
we could we would have to figure out which
of them we were actually going to answer
and which we're just going to punt on so
what you learn how to do is not
become an expert in anything but
you what you learn how to do is to rapidly
get up to speed so that you're ill East
conversant on the issue and in the amount
of time that you have so I did that in 8
in 92 I went down to Little Rock and
wrote a number of Bill Clinton's
position papers and then.
Got a job working for Bill Clinton
on the National Economic Council and
got a chance to work with Michael Barr
when he was also at the end he see in
the in the ninety's as we refer to them
those dark days of peace and prosperity.
When I worked for
the Office of Science and
Technology Policy the main thing
that I did was to build a team so
this is this is the folks
that I recruited to
the White House Office of Science and
Technology Policy right next
to me as was my boss John Holdren who
is the president's science advisor.
And one of the people that I
recruited is University of
Michigan's very owned trader
Kota who helped to lead
a number of our initiatives in
the area of advanced manufacturing so.
I don't expect you to be a list see all
this but this gives you a sense for
the structure of the White House Office
of Science and Technology Policy
we had 5 major divisions so
one that I led focused on tech and
innovation we had a U.S. C.T.O.
that was focused on things
like digital services being
developed by the United States government
a group working on national security and
international affairs so
the the link between S.
national security issues
things like cyber security and
then a group focused on energy
environment and overall
the role of O.S.T.P.
was to work on both science and
technology for policy and
policy for science and technology so
let me say a little bit about what
the distinction between those 2 is so
if the president and his or
her senior advisers are making a decision.
That has a scientific and technical
component Our job was to make sure that he
was getting the best possible advice so.
When Fukushima occurred he would want to
know what are the implications of this not
only for the people of Japan but
what are the implications of this for
the United States or if the you know
there was a year when the flu
vaccine was singularly ineffective.
And so the question he asked was how
do we ensure that we do better in in.
In in years to come so
that sort of science and technology for
policy how do we make sure that the
president has the best possible advice and
then policy for Science and Technology
which is what I'm going to spend
the majority of my time talking about
things like how much should the federal
government be investing in research and
development how do we encourage more
young boys and girls to excel in STEM
how do we create an environment.
That is fosters innovation and
promotes not only the formation
of companies but the rapid growth of
those companies in the United States.
So this is.
The this is the president
giving his inaugural address.
And one of the things that he said that
we were of course very happy with this is
the notion that we're going to restore
science to its rightful place and
in part that was because.
A certain level friction between.
The the Bush administration.
And the scientific community and
that arose from a couple reasons and
one was this notion of scientific
integrity and in particular.
When the scientists would say things like.
About Climate Change that were not
consistent with the ministrations policy
there were certainly instances
in which they were being
discouraged from talking to the press or
People in the White House were changing
the conclusions of scientific reports
before they were being
issued to the public and
the concern on the part of
the scientific community was not
well on any public policy issue
just listen to the scientists and
do whatever they say that you know
because public policy involves
juggling lots of considerations but
you should at least make sure that.
The the you know consensus or
the views of the scientific
community are being fairly and accurately
represented as part of the policy process.
So this was something that the president.
Taking office elevated the role
of the Office of Science and
Technology Policy and
signed an executive order.
On scientific integrity.
So I'm going to talk primarily about.
A Some of the elements of a framework for
the administration's policies
particularly in tech and innovation
that fall under the rubric of
the president's strategy for
American innovation which is
a document that he released in 2009 and
then updated in both 20112012 there are 3.
Broad areas where he thought that
there was an important role for
the government one was for
the government to invest in the building
blocks of long term economic growth and
job creation particularly around
human capital scientific research and
and 21st century infrastructure the 2nd
was to create the environment for
private sector innovation because
after all it's companies that produce
commercial products and services and the
in helping to achieve a broad range of
national goals like allowing Americans to
lead longer healthier lives work
celebrating the transition to a low
carbon economy so this last part
of catalyzing breakthroughs for
national parties attempts to answer
the question innovation for what so
what are the major challenges
that the United States face that
the world faces where we think science and
technology can make an important role and
so what I'm going to do for the remainder
of my talk is to give you some examples
concrete examples of things that we
launched that to advance this initiative
so one of the things that
the president said is.
If you win the N.C. double layer or
the Super Bowl you get to come to the
White House the same thing should be true
if you win a science fair or
This was one of the president's
favorite events of the year.
He had an opportunity to meet
with amazing students every year.
I remember one year he met with
a 16 year old girl who was already.
Doing research on functionalized
gold you know particles to attack
tumors while leaving healthy cells
untouched and it you know made the rest of
us feel like slackers because at
Dragons rather than working
on the cure for cancer and
here he is with Jerry who has
developed this marshmallow cannon and
the Secret Service is explicitly
told him not to fire it.
But the president comes up and he says.
Well does this work.
I'm sort of like that
the kid is torn because
you know the president of the head States
is asking him to like fire this thing.
Much to the light of
the of the Secret Service.
So this was one of the mechanisms that the
president used to highlight the importance
of STEM education and to inspire
more young people to excel in STEM.
Towards the end of the administration.
He launched an initiative called
Computer Science for all which is
making computer science and computational
thinking into BASIC at the K.
through 12 level and
one of the challenges in this area is.
That in other countries.
There is someone called
a minister of education
who can just do this right so
in Japan the minister of education can say
Computer science is going to
become a new basic in the K.
through 12 curriculum in the United States
we have 15000 school districts so in
order to make progress in this there was
no one we could call we literally had to
build a movement around this that involved
governors mayors high tech companies.
Schools of education
in order in order to
make progress in this.
Another thing that we worked on was with
the deans of engineering with something
called the Grand Challenge
So this is a program that in which
undergraduate engineering students
can organize their coursework
Research Service learning international
activities and entrepreneurial
activities around one of the 14
grand challenges identified by
the National Academy of Engineering.
Obviously improving STEM education
requires increasing the number and
quality of STEM teachers so
we had an effort called 100 K.
Which was an effort to prepare 100000 high
quality math and science teachers over
the next 10 years and this is
a goal that we're on track to meet.
And then we launched a series
of research initiatives and.
One area that a lot of campuses
including the University of Michigan
are moving in the direction of is.
Data science and so this is
an effort that we launched in 2012.
Really looking at how we could go
from data to knowledge to actions so
how do we go from having you know
huge amounts of data to deriving
insights from that data and
then taking some action based on that.
In April 2013 President Obama
something called the BRAIN Initiative.
This was an effort to do for neuroscience
what the Human Genome Project did for
genetics so one of the questions that I
would ask people in the research community
and other stakeholders is in
the same way that President Kennedy.
Decided that we should put
astronauts on the moon and
have him safely return
by the end of the decade
one of the similarly ambitious goals that
we should set in the 21st century and
a foundation had pulled together
in multidisciplinary group of
faculty in neuroscience nano science and
synthetic biology and
one of the ideas that grew out of that
workshop was what if we made an investment
in tools that would allow us to understand
the brain in action so that would increase
our ability to understand how the brain
in codes and processes information and
ultimately could lead to new tools that
improve our ability to diagnose treat and
prevent diseases of the brain and to lead
to new computational architectures and
algorithms that are informed by how
the brain works so you know at current
should directories supercomputers will
require their own dedicated powerplant
the human brain only uses 20 watts so
Mother Nature has
figured out something really important
about low power computation.
That engineers and
computer scientists can learn a lot from.
And if you look at the advances that have
been made in the area of machine learning
many of these work by
training in algorithm
by providing it with sometimes
literally millions of examples.
And obviously that's not how it ties.
I learned that you know toddler
burns their finger on the stove
you know they don't have to or they don't
have to repeat that a 1000000 times and so
obviously there's a lot more that we can
learn from how the human brain works
that could inform the next generation
of computer architectures and
algorithms so this enjoyed really
strong bipartisan support and
Congress passed a loss as part of
the 21st century cures act that for
the and I each component of this
initiative it also involves N.S.F.
and and die out DARPA and I are proud but
for the and I each component provides
because usually they only provide.
One year of support at a time.
The this is the natural box initiative
that President Obama announced in.
In particular looking at opportunities for
human robot interaction so
what can teams of humans and robots
do that neither can do individually.
We got a shout out for the materials
genome initiative from the University of
Michigan student here this was also
announced in $2011.00 and this is aimed at
reducing the time required to develop new
materials so it can take us long as 17 to
volume manufacturing of new materials.
And I believe.
Materials innovation deserves a lot
more attention than it gets if you think
about it entire epics of human
civilization are named after the material
system they used from the Iron Age to
the Bronze Age to the to the Iron Age to
now were you know living
in the silicon age and
a lot of the things that we need
to do in the area of clean energy.
The ability to generate energy the ability
to transmit energy the ability to
use energy are going to require materials
innovation and so this was an effort
to figure out how to use new computational
tools and informatics and machine learning
to reduce the time required to develop
new materials by at least 50 percent.
One of the areas that I got really
interested in was this idea
of incentive prizes and in the in the late
ninety's I read a book called longitude
which is about how the British because the
the British Navy was losing all the ships.
Had 825000 pound prize back when
that was real money in the 1700s.
And to develop a solution for
a more accurate
measurement of longitude when I worked for
President Clinton I was able to get
DARPA prize authority which they used for
self driving car competition.
Second time they ran this competition.
A team from Stanford one.
Larry Page was at the finish line and
he promptly acquired the winning team so
this is the origin of.
The alphabet car effort so when I came
back in the government I was able through
working for President Obama I was able to
work with Congress to pass legislation
that gives all agencies the ability
to support incentive prizes for
up to $5050000000.00 And if you go
to challenge dot gov you'll see over
$800.00 instances in which
agencies have used this.
And we referred to this.
As building on the insight from
Bill Joy who used to say no matter who
you are most of the smartest people work
for someone else so if you're a government
agency you you want lots of people to know
what problems you're trying to solve and
have an ability to contribute to them and
one of my favorite examples of this is
that the Air Force was interested in
solving the following problem which is
imagine that you have a vehicle
approaching a military checkpoint and
the the vehicle is not slowing
down like it's supposed to
you would like the vehicle to stop
without damaging the vehicle or
the occupant so
they put this problem out there and
the winning idea came from a retired
mechanical engineer from Lima Peru.
And the Air Force only spent
$25000.00 on this challenge
now had they used a traditional
procurement process I guarantee you they
would have spent a lot more than $25000.00
they might not have gotten the answer and
they certainly would not have gotten
the answer from a mechanical engineer from
Lima Peru so this is not a substitute for
other ways of supporting innovation but
I think it is a really interesting tool
in the toolkit that we should have for
We did a fair amount in the area
of commercial space and
that was a program that
was very successful.
Which was that the United States
retired the space shuttle
because NASA could no
longer certify its safety
at that point NASA had to
spend a large amount of money.
With the Russian government
in order to get a ticket for
a U.S. astronaut on the Soyuz rocket
to go up to the space station.
And there was an understandable
interest in having a U.S.
alternative So what NASA did was to
partner with companies like Space X.
and and they to their credit they they
didn't say you know here's the rocket that
we want you to build They said this is
what we want you to do we want to rocket
that will go up to the International
Space Station deliver and recreate
retrieve cargo and ultimately astronauts
but exactly how to do that is up to you.
So as a result they wound up for
an investment of $400000000.00 getting
what would have probably cost $2.00 to
$4000000000.00 using a more traditional
in the United States we went from being a.
You know a laggard in the area of
the space launch industry to to one
of the leaders as a result of partnering
with commercial firms such as Space X..
We were also interested in making it
easier for immigrant entrepreneurs who
wanted to come to the states and
start businesses to do so.
We tried to work with Congress to pass
comprehensive immigration reform
legislation which would have
included something called the start
of visa were not able to do that so
this is something that we were able
to get done through executive action.
We worked with Congress
on legislation to allow
equity based crowdfunding So a lot of you
are primarily are probably familiar with
donation based crowdfunding where you
might contribute to someone's Kickstarter
campaign this was an effort to extend
that to equity based crowdfunding and
also to make it easier for small
companies to raise capital and go public
without having to comply with all the
regulations that may be appropriate for
larger companies but
may not make sense for small companies.
Some of you may recall that the.
We had a less than successful
launch of Health Care dot gov.
So what happened after that is that.
The administration recruited
people with technical skills
to come to drop everything
else that they were doing and
work almost around the clock
until it was up and
running again and
the president appropriately asked
why don't we have these people involved
at the beginning of a project.
And so we were able to convince a number
of the people that it fixed healthcare dot
gov to stay and they launched something
called the U.S. digital service which is.
Something that the the current
is continuing to support.
A project that.
An attachment Futurist is supporting is.
Something called coding it forward so
this was a project started by students for
students so a number of students are were
interested in using their summer.
Students that have skills and in computer
science and software engineering and
design and a number of other areas and
in working in the federal government and
so they watch this project called coding
it forward which is is getting thousands
of applications at this point 1st for
students who are interested in taking what
they've learned in disciplines like C.S.
and design and and applying them to
important public and societal challenges.
Our work was not just limited to
the natural sciences and engineering so
we also did some work in the social and
behavioral sciences so.
The woman in the.
Red Dress car.
Sent me an e-mail and said that you know
she was interested in working at
the White House and it turned out that.
She had been a child violin
prodigy with Itzhak Perlman
at one the major gala undergraduate
awards and was a Rhodes scholar so
I went out on a limb and
decided to take a chance on her.
And I said What do you want to do and she
said well the British have created this
behavioral insights team you
know I think that the U.S.
should have something like that and
so in short order.
She convinced an agency to How's
the team she recruited a team of 20 got
the president to sign an executive order
institutionalize and team and watched 60.
Aberrations with federal departments and
agencies taking advantage of insights from
fields like behavioral economics that have
the potential to improve public policy
and started this work
before her 30th birthday.
So I want to talk a little bit about some
of the different tools so no pressure.
I want to talk a little bit about
some of the tools that we that we had
in order to go from an idea to
something happening in the world.
So one was the preparation
of the president's
budget so obviously Congress
still has to approve it but
the president's budget is an important
starting point for those so when we had
something like the manufacturing
innovation institutes that shooter worked
on or the president's brain initiative
that that required additional funding.
We would ensure that those things
that were priorities were included in
the president's budget we would work
with the Congress on legislation so
are to give you the example of the.
Legislation that gave all agencies the
authority to support instead of prices for
up to $50000000.00 or the Jobs Act that
created an I.P.L. on ramp for emerging
growth companies we tried to identify
things that agencies could do with the.
Authority that they already had so
the international entrepreneur
rule is something that the U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Had the authority to do which was
which was to use an authority to
admit more immigrant entrepreneurs
into the states the president
also had the ability to convene and
so the president had an event and
we invited people generally would
rearrange their schedule to come.
I remember you know a lot of times our.
Communications team would not
want to have us invite people too
early because then worried about
what we were doing with leak.
And they wanted to save the news for
the president to announce So
we would routinely invite.
People on I you know Friday afternoon for
of over a holiday weekend for an event
that was going to occur on Tuesday.
And without telling them what
the event was going to be about and
they would still come.
the president used that not just to get
people to come to a meeting but
to take some action so a lot of what we
did was to build coalitions to
advance particular ideas and then.
Another thing that we could do
is to recruit great people.
So treater had a big impact in
the area of advanced manufacturing.
My I had a great impact on creating
this social and behavioral sciences team
the U.S. digital service was all about
recruiting the top talent in industry
to come to the federal government in
improve our ability to design and
build or or
purchase citizen facing digital services.
So these these are examples
of the tools that we had and
the reason I think this is really
important is that policymaking is about
creating a coherent relationship
between and and means right so
you have some goal that
you're trying to achieve and
then you're trying to figure out what is
the thing that the government can do or
that we can challenge other people to
do that will help achieve that goal.
We had a white board.
That was a collection of
of some of the aphorisms
that we had developed over time
about how to get things done.
And obviously I'm not going to go over all
of them but I want to talk about one in
particular that was one of my favorite
thought experiments which is.
To imagine that you have a 15 minute
meeting with President Obama
in the Oval Office.
President Obama says.
If you have an idea for
you know policy issue X..
In order to make your idea 1st of all what
is your idea why why are you excited about
that idea in order to make your
idea happen who would I call and
what would I ask him to do.
So you know I can call anyone
in the car in the world
it can be a conference call so there
can be more than one person on the line
if it's someone inside the government
like the Treasury secretary
that I can direct them to do something
because I'm their boss if it's someone
outside the government then I can
challenge them to do something so
there were a couple reasons for
this thought experiment one is that.
Psychologists have this
concept called agency.
And what it means in the in the when
you're working in the White House is that
you have the ability to send the president
of the states a decision memo and
have them check the box
that sense yes right so
that means that there
are more things that.
That you see in your environment that
you view as potentially changeable
because they're the result of human
action or inaction as opposed to
something fixed like the laws of physics
that we really can't do a whole lot about.
So you know how do you give
someone else that sense of agency
that you as a White House staffer feel so
that that's one reason.
And the 2nd reason is that.
If you're trying to do something that
is complicated it's highly likely that.
You're not going to be able
to do that by yourself but
you're going to need to build a coalition
so it's not like there is a single
individual out there who would
be able to accomplish the goal.
Well it's very difficult to build
a coalition if you can't articulate number
one who are the members of the coalition
and again it could be entities and
individuals both inside and outside
the government and one of the mutually
reinforcing steps that you want them
to take in order to achieve a goal so
if you can say this is my idea in order
to make my idea happen this is who would
need to do what than policymakers
are more likely to be responsive
I had lots of people who would come in to
my office and say we had we would have
some variant of the phone conversation
they would say My issue is important and
I would say great like what do you want
me to do about it and they would say.
You should make it a priority.
And so you're far more likely to be
have an impact on on policy if you can
articulate this so answer this question
in order to make your idea happen
who would you call and what would you ask
the do and then you can begin to assess.
To what extent the members of that
coalition would be willing and
able and if not is there something
you can do to change that so.
For those of you who are interested in
learning a little bit more about some of
the other lessons that I learned I wrote
an article called policy entrepreneurship
at the White House which is about how
do you have influence without authority
that it's an open access article so
if you if you
put that into your favorite search engine
you should be able to to locate that.
And with that I would be delighted to
answer any questions that you have about
Science and Technology Policy thank you.
Karo has a for sure M.P.P.
student here at the ford school and
I'm also a part of the Science and
Public Policy certificate program so
thank you so much for being here and
we're gathering our questions but
I'm going to kick it off with this one
what were some of the biggest barriers
you faced in accomplishing your goal at
the office of science or technology
policy well so one issue is that.
Our founding fathers came up with
this idea of checks and balances.
Which I now increasingly
view as a good thing.
But you know when you're in the executive
branch it can be very frustrating if you
have an idea and you're unable to convince
the Congress that it's a good idea so
one of the I.D.'s I was excited about and
one of my colleagues who
eventually became our deputy secretary of
education was excited about was to create.
A DARPA within the Department of
Education So as you know DARPA's was
created after Sputnik and is invested
in things like the Internet and
cell technology many other agencies
lack similar capability to
support high risk high return research and
we thought that there was a case for
doing that in the in the Department
of Education given the importance of.
Education to our wellbeing and
to citizenship in the 21st century and
economic growth but
were we were unable to convince.
Key members of Congress that this was
a good idea so so that that's certainly.
One thing that.
I certainly understand the need to have
this sort of division of power but
when you're when you're in the executive
branch it can be very frustrating.
Thank you for that response Tom My
name is 70 I am a 1st year M.P.P.
with the Ford school and a part of the
science technology Public Policy Program.
From the audience I given
today's political climate
what do you see opportunities for people
who want to affect science technology
policy on a larger scale Yeah so.
One of the things about science and
technology policy is that there's not
necessarily this sort of clear or career
trajectory that exists in some other areas
I think one route that a number of
people have used is the AAA US S.
fellowship program so
that is one mechanism that people have
used to sort of get some experience
in Science and Technology Policy.
And I I would say.
That the administration is taking
a fairly hands off approach with
respect to many of the science agencies
like the National Science Foundation
the National Institutes of Health.
So you know there's there's good
work that is continuing to go on and
in the science agencies I know
that there are some states
that are creating fellowship
programs at the state level so
I don't know if Michigan is doing that or
are thinking about doing that but
the more foundation for
example has been supporting a S.
policy fellowship at
the at the state level for
both state agencies in
the state legislature.
Thank you now we have
an intellectual property question
what are your thoughts on companies
that buy pens to sue other companies and
how can we reform the system.
Well this is not really an area
that I am an expert I know that.
That that intellectual property
is difficult because you're
trying to balance competing
goals you know on the one hand.
You want to have sufficient protection
of intellectual property so
that firms are going to be willing to
invest in research and development.
I think one problem that we have
with our patent system is that.
It's a it's what's referred
to as a unitary system.
And I think that leads
to some problems and
what I mean by that is that intellectual
property of plays different roles
in different industries so
for example in the.
In the pharmaceutical industry I think
you can make a much stronger case that in
the absence of having this period of
exclusivity a drug company is not going to
invest $2000000000.00 in getting a new
drug candidate all the way through.
Clinical trials in the absence of
exclusivity in other industries like I T.
they are competing much more
on the basis of time to market
an IP is used more for defensive
purposes rather than anything else so
you know I think it's worth
exploring whether or not.
We should look at the role that IP and
patents are playing in different
industries and being able to have
something that is more tailored to the
role that IP plays in different sectors.
Earlier today you mentioned 2
market based approaches Space X.
and NASA and the inceptive prize
Are there any specific industries that
a market based approach is uniquely
suited to advance versus government.
There's a set of tools that the global
health community has developed that I
think are really interesting and should be
used outside the global health community
so they have had to deal with
the following challenge which is that
there are innovations in global health
that have a high social return and a low
private return a canonical example of
this is vaccines for diseases of the poor
left to their own devices drug companies
will work on that seems for poor people so
an economist by the name of Michael Kramer
came up with a clever solution for
dealing with this problem which is known
as an advance market commitment so
this is essentially the the governments or
Philanthropists saying to
the to the drug industry
if you develop a vaccine which is safe and
effective then we will purchase X.
dollars per dose.
And so the reason that finance minister is
really like this idea is that at the drug
companies not delivered the governments
would have been out the Euro Dollars
right so the the way the federal
government is currently set up.
The government tends to make financial
commitments that are contingent on failure
so we have $2.00 trillion dollars of loan
guarantees on the federal books so that's
the government saying if you go bankrupt
then Uncle Sam is going forward with this
advance market commitment the government
is making it financial commitment that is
contingent on success right saying hey if
you develop a vaccine which is safe and
effective then mobility so I think we
should be doing a lot more of that but
what it requires is the capacity
to do 3 things One is
to identify an unmet need you know in the
case of a vaccine it's like 1000000 kids
under the age of 5 die every year from
a vaccine preventable disease Novak's.
Currently exists so that's the unmet need
the 2nd is to develop a performance based
specification so again the government is
not saying it's not dictating the how
it's just describing the what So
in the drug industry for example this
is called a target product profile this is
a description of what it would mean for
there to be a safe and effective
vaccine and then the 3rd thing is
if there is a market failure if there is
a large gap between the social return and
the private return then what type of
incentive would be necessary to get
the private sector to work on this problem
so again that approach is not going to
work in all instances but in particularly
in those areas where the where.
You can have a reasonably clear
definition of the problem and
what an effective solution would look like
using these approaches like incentive
prizes or milestone payments or
advance market commitments maybe
one way of addressing those.
Next question is in terms of long term
security instability specific to global
competition and national security how
do you weigh risks in the speed and
open accessibility of emerging
technologies while still attempting
to maintain our position as
a global leader very carefully.
I think one thing is.
That you when you are.
Dealing with emerging technologies
to say to really think at
the beginning about what the risks
could be a specifically with these.
And in some cases.
You know that may lead to.
Some selective departures from.
Open publishing and so an example of
this is that there was a big debate.
In biomedical research associate with
something called gaina function so
for example if you're trying
to understand why a virus.
You know or
bacteria would be more virulent.
You know on the one hand you want to
understand what those mechanisms are so
that you can be on the lookout for
other hand if you like just publish that.
Then there is the risk that that
knowledge could be misused so
I do think that there are some instances.
That the National Academy of Sciences
called experiments of concern
where there are clearly do you use
applications Assissi with these and
that you may need to have a review process
either before the research is funded
or certainly before
the research is is published
we just saw an instance of an organization
doing this voluntarily so open and I.
Published some results on the use
of natural language processing to
generate fake news and they said we're not
going to publish the algorithm we're going
to we're going to publish.
We're going we're going to describe the
results and we're going to go around and
brief policymakers so
that they have some sense for
this how this technology is occurring.
Another example of a regime or a set of
norms that the research community has come
up with is if you decide if
you identify a vulnerability
associated with you know an operating
system or some other form of information
technology let the vendor
know give them an opportunity
to fix it before publishing it so
that you don't have this situation of
know examples of an effort to.
Balance some of these considerations but
it is a really important area and
unfortunately there is no set of
principles that you can articulate that
will allow you to figure out what
the right thing to do is and reasonable
people will disagree about where you
should draw the line number one and
number 2 we will
inevitably be surprised so
we may be able to come up with some
examples of you know how this technology
will be both used and misused but
I think a certain amount of.
Humility is needed because Will.
We might have some theories but
we will inevitably be surprised by
what happens in the real world
it's a great great question.
Thank you in the last couple of
months we've seen a growing.
Cyber security breaches of
Facebook scammers analytic and
the deterioration of data privacy
what is the role of policymakers and
the federal government in ensuring that
this doesn't happen again if any or
do we expect Facebook to self regulate.
Yes So certainly other countries are not
taking that approach so that is not
the approach that the European Union
is is taking and so they have launched
a comprehensive privacy regulation
through something called the G.D.P. our.
I think another thing that people
have looked at is increasing
the potential sanctions
that are associated with
various data breaches so
you know one way to get companies
to do less of something is to increase the
penalties that are associate with that.
And a minimum.
To ensure that they have a duty
to disclose when they're
when there has been a data breach.
I think that the pendulum is
beginning to shift with with
more companies actually saying there
are probably needs to be a national.
You know privacy framework and
in part what they're interested in
heading off is having each of the 50
states have their own state level
privacy legislation that would make
things a lot more difficult for them.
And we've seen as technologies emerge and
as big dating creases that vulnerable
populations can be disproportionately
affected how did your office prioritize or
consider these effects and
vulnerable populations and how can we
do better moving forward you know.
We issued several reports looking
at the interaction between.
Learning and privacy and civil
liberties and vulnerable populations.
And let me give you one example
that people are concerned about so
as many of you know the way these
recent advances in machine learning
have occurred is that algorithms
are trained rather than programmed so
if we want an algorithm to be able to
distinguish between a cat and a dog.
We give the algorithm lots of examples
of label training data and it.
In one case you know forms
this network that is
constantly adjusting the weights between
the nodes in the network until it does
a highly accurate job of mapping
between input and output so
one thing that people have
noticed is that if the training
data itself is reflects
existing bias sees that and.
Then you know algorithmic
decision making can reinforce
those biases so
there is now a active research community.
Called fairness accountability and
That is trying to address these
issues at the design stage so.
The research community is not saying this
is someone else's responsibility they're
saying we should be addressing these
issues head on that are charity and
research results to both understand
if these biases exist but
also to come up with some mechanisms for
The Science and Technology Policy scholars
worry that the decentralized Meacher of
science technology policy has
resulted in a research and
system that provides good support for
research but doesn't always connect that
research to social outcomes for example
great medical research but lack of access
to high tech care how can we do a better
job of innovating for the public good.
Is a great question so
one of my concerns is
that the ability of different federal
departments and agencies to interact
with the research community varies
widely across the federal government so
there are 5 agencies that account for
roughly 90 percent of the federal R.
budget and that's the department of France
and I H Department of Energy NASA and
the National Science Foundation so.
Agencies that have the responsibility for
worrying about the bottom half
of the income distribution.
So it in cities like HUD or
the Human Services parts of H.H.S.
or the Department of Labor have little or
no capacity to interact
with the research community and so as I
think an interesting thought experiment
is to imagine that one of those
agencies had a research arm.
And asked Number one what goals
would it set up a number to
what are examples of projects that would
support in order to achieve those goals so
we just put out a working
with the a nonprofit
organization called jobs for the future.
A call for ideas for what we're calling
a unicorn for the middle class so as you
know in Silicon Valley the status symbol
is a startup that has a market cap of
$1000000000.00 We challenge people to come
up with ideas that would increase the ink.
Homes of 100000 non-college
of workers 510000 dollars so
that would get you that's a unicorn for
the middle class so
there are certain types of research
questions that are not even being asked
because there's no private sector
incentive to invest in these
number one and number 2 the relevant part
of the federal government the relevant
mission agency like the department
labor for example has limited or
essentially no capacity to interact
with the research community and
think about science and technology
as one of the potential tools so for
example if you get if you talk
to people about housing policy.
You'll get into a discussion
about zoning and.
And you know building
additional public housing or
you know it's more subsidies or something
like that the way an engineer would think
about the problem is well how could you
make the house itself less expensive right
now that might not be the right answer but
it's at least my view is that
it's at least one of the ideas that ought
to be considered when we're thinking about
solving some of these problems and
because of this imbalance.
A lot of these questions
are are not even being asked and so
I actually think there's a role for
for research universities.
To you know go to their alumni and
say hey you know we think there's
an opportunity here the federal government
isn't immediately going to fund this but
we have an opportunity to like demonstrate
what might be possible if we made this
is SAGAL And an active area of research
what differences have you found in your
ability to shape or impact as N.T.
policy from O.S.T.P. versus.
Schmidt features Yeah so.
The federal government
has a different scale so
one of things that I worked on for
President Clinton was the launch
of something called the National
in our technology mission and
this is resulted in a cumulative
investment of 20 $3000000000.00 in the no
skill sense in engineering so the federal
government has an as an opportunity to
operate in a scale that is different
from from private philanthropy.
The advantage of private plane therapy
is greater flexibility and speed.
So someone who is working for
flare purposed does not have to get
So so that I think allows
a philanthropist to respond
more rapidly to emerging challenges and
Private philanthropy is in no way it's
a substitute for federal investment in
in science and technology because of
the I think the necessity to have.
You know Democratic voice in public
parties and just the different different
scale that the federal government operates
you know the executive the executive
branch agencies have a total
budget of 4 trillion dollars So
that's not something that is going to
be replaced by private philanthropy.
From our viewers on other
Lifestream in Twitter
how can we filter fact from fiction fake
news information in this world of mass
data communications any advice.
I got an algorithm one
way e-mail it to you.
I you know there are.
A number of interesting experiments that
are going on so one is one experiment that
I'm aware of for example is is trying to
leverage training in critical thinking and
crowdsourcing So training people and
in critical thinking in the ability to.
You know tag or identify weaknesses in.
In in arguments.
And just training a lot
of people to do that.
So I don't think that you know
there's going to be a quick
technical fix to this but I think it is
and it is an active area of research.
And you know I have to say that.
That in in the ninety's.
I was really excited about this idea that.
That we were going to have you know
the equivalent of a printing press and
a radio station and a T.V. station for for
everyone who is like
connected to the Internet and
you know I think I'm now more
aware of some of the challenges
that that poses What advice would you
give to people not working in scientific
fields who want to effect change.
So you know.
Dean Barr will tell you that
effective public policy
requires people coming together
with lots of different skills so
you know I just talked about this this
idea of advance market commitments
that's an idea that came out of
the the economics profession.
The the you know the whole idea of.
Taking insights from behavioral economics
and applying them to public policy.
The idea of mechanism design which has
been used to reduce the waiting line for
a kidney transplant so lots of different
disciplines have the ability to
contribute to public policy and
the other thing is that you need people
who can help translate between scientists
and engineers and policymakers and
the public so many times scientists and
engineers are not particularly
good at explaining the importance of
what it is that they're working on.
And having people who can understand
what they're what they're doing and
why it's important but
still have the ability to
communicate with the public can
play a really important role.
We talked about the rise
of AI machine learning and
we know that it's going
at a very rapid pace yes.
There is contention within the public
in the American system currently that
robots are going to replace people in
the workforce kind of how do you qual
those those I guess specific myths and
what role do robots have in
the workplace in the coming future.
Yeah so some of the analysis
that is been done is an effort
to try to address that question at
the level of tasks rather than jobs so
to say what are the tasks that that
that people are currently engaged in and
which of those tasks
are susceptible to automation.
And some of the Nelsons
that's been done I think is.
non-college educated workers though so
it's not to say that everyone.
Will not be affected by
this at some level but
it would be in particularly hard for
for non-college educated workers so
I think that's an area that
deserves a lot more attention.
The United States is.
Near the bottom.
When it comes to public sector
investment as a share G.D.P.
in what economists call active
labor market policies so
this is things like help with job search
and and job training and and rescaling So
I think that's definitely an area
that needs a lot more investment but
we need to figure out how to make
that effective so I don't think
I wouldn't be in favor of just you know
throwing a bunch more money at the current
system I think we've got to look at
the workforce development system and
figure out how to make it more effective
because I think in many cases there
are not very strong connections between
training providers and employers so
the training providers are are running
with someone through a program but
there's no guarantee that they're
going to get a job at the other end so
I think we have to ensure that
the workforce development system is a lot
more demand driven than it currently is.
To build off a question how can the U.S.
government better serve tech companies
through each one visa reform for
You know I don't necessarily think it
needs to be done through each one B.'s So
I think one of the problems
with the H one B.
is that it creates.
An equal power dynamic between
the employer in the employee so.
President Obama had
a number of proposals to
just increase the number of green
cards for highly skilled workers.
So one of the ways that you can
do that is to have every visa.
That you're providing not only cover
the worker but his or her family so
that's one way of doing that so
I think there are ways to increase.
So the you know the problem
with the each one B.
visa program is that it's
a it's temporary and B.
It creates this unequal power
dynamic between employer and
employee so when we looked at
this issue our view was just to
increase the number of of green cards and
also make it easier for
graduate students who are getting
a STEM degree if they want to stay
in the United States we should we should
staple a green card to their diploma and
not force them to go overseas if they
want to stay in the United States.
During your tenure add always T.P.
what was involved in initiatives to ensure
the public has free open access to
outputs of scientific research what do
you think is the role of governments in
promoting open access to knowledge and
what is the role of foundations
like space futures sure.
So there had been a policy.
And I each and
Congress pushed which basically said
if you're getting if you're
taking federal money for
your research then the publication
should be open access within a year.
And so we we extent of that policy to
the other major science agencies so
that was one thing that we did and
the 2nd thing that we did this say that
this policy should not just apply to.
The publication but
to the underlying data.
Now you know that's been more difficult
publications and is a lot more
straightforward so it can seize are taking
steps in this direction but that's that's
an area where I think we have a lot more
work to do and I think that the case for
doing this is even stronger given advances
in machine learning because what machine
learning certainly if you're talking about
supervised machine learning is driven by.
Access to data and so
if we make that data available and
we make it usable that that's going to
accelerate the pace of scientific research
this will be our last question
in working in essence the policy
how important are soft skills including
communication in team building
compared to scientific
literacy very important so.
The you know so some of the important
soft skills as I said are is
the ability to communicate across
the technical non-technical.
Divide I think that's one the 2nd is.
The ability to build coalitions you know
there are very few things that you do by
yourself that it requires eliciting
collaboration cooperation between people.
With people that do not work for
you or do not report to you so
the ability to do that is really important
the ability to develop relationships
that are based on trust mutual
understanding and reciprocity so
it would I would not be effective
if I was constantly sending a one
sided stream of requests for me to other
people in the in the federal government
it would be like if you had a friend
when you only heard from them when
when they needed help moving it would
get I would like get old after a while.
So one of things I would do is I
would have coffee or dinner or drinks
with people to try to understand what it
is that they were trying to accomplish and
how I could help them so
it was not just sort of
like me constantly calling up up and
saying hey you know can you do X, Y, and Z.
So I think that those skills
are very important and
there were you know a number of brilliant
scientists in the federal government
who I think had challenges
because they were less strong.
In in some of those areas and so
as a result were were less effective so
and if the the piece that I
wrote policy entrepreneurship
talks about some of the skills that
are that are particularly helpful.
And that's really great and natural for.
Us to get I think that.
You do an.