Thomas Kalil: U.S. Science and Technology Policy in the Past, Present and Future

February 15, 2019 1:12:13
Kaltura Video

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

policy 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
President Clinton.

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.

and Z.

we have to come up with the X.

and Z..

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.

and T.
and and

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.

There was.

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.

Very soon.

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
robotics competition.


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
nonprofit organizations

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
Scholars Program.

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.

We also.

Obviously improving STEM education
requires increasing the number and

quality of STEM teachers so
we had an effort called 100 K.

in 10.

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

promoting innovation.

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

approach so
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
administration has

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
are interested

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.

And so
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.

Mr Barr.

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
Technology 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.

and T.

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.

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.

and T.

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.

Yeah so.


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
that but

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.

You know.

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.

Big data.

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
addressing them.

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.

and D.
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
opportunities but.

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.

Concerning for.

Particularly for
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.

Just if.

You do an.