Eric S. Lander, the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, is worried that no one seems to be arguing about what needs to be done to ensure America's position as the world's leader in science and technology.
"For the first time since World War II, our primacy is in jeopardy," he writes in an opinion piece for The Boston Globe. "Choices we make today will determine whether we continue to reap the outsized rewards to our economy, welfare, and military power that come from being at the cutting edge."
Saying that "America's future is up for grabs," Lander raises six big questions:
- Do we care if China surpasses America as the leading spender on research and development?
- Can the United States afford to lose its edge in artificial intelligence?
- Will America be a leader in energy technology?
- Are we prepared to make the huge investments in basic and applied research needed to solve our health crises?
- Can we risk letting our universities slip?
- Are we prepared to expand science and technology opportunities for all Americans?
"In this week’s State of the Union, and in the congressional commentary that follows, I hope to hear our leaders tackle these questions, which will shape America’s greatness in the decades ahead," he concludes. "I might disagree with some of their answers. But that’s OK. It’s an argument worth having."