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Invigorating Scientific Innovation, Advancing American Brilliance

Big Picture

Investing wisely and heavily in scientific innovation is key to remaining abreast of global development, and central to improving the standard of living for all Americans. However, at its current pace, the U.S. will soon fall far behind other countries. By spearheading global scientific development, America will solidify itself as a leader in scientific innovation. 


Operative Definitions

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI): According to Investopedia, “the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions.”

  2. Quantum Information Science (QIS): A new interdisciplinary field that draws from physical science, mathematics, computer science and engineering, which explores the processing and transmission of information as understood by the principles of quantum mechanics. 

  3. STEM: A common abbreviation for the four areas of study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

  4. Research and Development (R&D): Stages of work geared towards the innovation, introduction and improvement of products, especially in scientific and technological fields.

  5. Innovation: The action or process of creating new ideas, improving existing products and combining methods in new ways.


Important Facts and Statistics

  1. The technology sector accounts for roughly 10% of the U.S. economy and is the third largest contributor, behind government and manufacturing.

  2. Immigrants account for roughly 16% of the inventor population and 22% of total patent applicants.


Four-Point Plan

(1) Create a Technology Development Agency (TDA) under the Department of Commerce.

The TDA would focus on the economic and labor aspects of technological innovation. It would serve both to educate lawmakers on the state of technological growth and its impact on the labor market and to prepare reports to appropriately allocate funding to programs related to the field. This agency would promote both technological and economic growth and would also ensure the preservation of jobs in science and technology. Because of recent increases in technological spending by other countries, particularly China, there must be an agency dedicated to determining the ways to most effectively spend to maintain America’s position as a worldwide technological leader.


(2) Increase federal R&D investments and allow the TDA to oversee all spending. 

The U.S. used to allocate 1.9% of GDP to R&D, but that percentage has steadily declined to a low of 0.62, as of 2018. The U.S. has also overcomplicated the R&D tax credit process. Now, it acts as a deterrent for small businesses looking to apply for credit. To solve these problems, the tax credit must be simplified by allowing the TDA to exclusively oversee all spending. The U.S. must return to peak allocation percentage if it wants to regain its supremacy as the center of innovation. The U.S. must dedicate a sizable portion to AI and QIS, with the latter being the foundation of future technologies (quantum computing, nanotechnology, etc.), and Thorium and Molten Salt Reactors, which are the future of nuclear energy.


(3) Create information campaigns targeted at young students detailing the need for STEM research within the United States.

Although the number of STEM students and professionals has increased this decade, we must prioritize this specific area of innovation. The push for future graduates in this field will increase global competitiveness while also allowing them job security. By developing information campaigns,  we can spike interest in the STEM field, yielding more individuals delving into this specific area of study. Information campaigns could take place throughout all levels of education at public schools and would inform students about employment opportunities in STEM fields.


(4) Increase the amount of immigration visas available for workers in STEM. Increasing visas granted to skilled immigrants in STEM will spur American growth and innovation while aiding industries with labor shortages. If an individual attempting to go through legal immigration harbors a skill set in an exceedingly useful STEM area, they will have their immigration process sped up dramatically. While there is a cap of only 65,000 total H1-B visas granted per year, this number could be increased, while having the new visas preferring applicants in STEM fields. 


Why This Initiative is Important

Maintaining a lead in technological innovation is key to maintaining America’s position in the world. AI will be fundamental to every aspect of our lives as it will radically change healthcare, infrastructure, employment and other facets of the economy. The federal government must have a coordinated plan to ensure that AI is used properly and safely and to ensure that the U.S. can efficiently use R&D funds to encourage innovation. Because of China’s rapid increase in scientific spending, China's pace to overtake the U.S. as the world's largest economy has accelerated in recent years. By simplifying the R&D credit process and creating one entity to oversee all spending, the U.S. will be able to increase its pace of technological innovation and grow its economy at a record rate.


Economic Impact (from our student economist team)

Innovation is a primary driver of economic growth; funding science creates business and employment opportunities for the future. This proposal remains within the current budget and will benefit the national economy as these reforms are realized.

Go to JoinONC.com to see how we came up with these numbers.


Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual authors.


The following student(s) worked on this nonpartisan proposal: Royce (Rice) Williams, University of California, Davis; Pragya Jain, American University; Shree Khanolkar, Concord-Carlisle High School; Zahra Said, University of California, Berkeley; Jessica Dine, Grinnell College; Rahul Hebbar, Rutgers University.



Sources

Frankenfield, Jake. “Artificial Intelligence: What It Is and How It Is Used.” Artificial Intelligence (AI), Investopedia, 6 July 2022, https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/artificial-intelligence-ai.asp

J., Jeffrey. “Rebuild the Trans-Pacific Partnership Back Better.” PIIE, 30 Nov. 2020, www.piie.com/blogs/trade-and-investment-policy-watch/rebuild-trans-pacific-partnership-back-better

Pradhan, Nitin. “Do We Need A U.S. Department Of Technology?” InformationWeek, 1 Aug. 2013, www.informationweek.com/government/leadership/do-we-need-a-us-department-of-technology/d/d-id/1111003

“Quantum Information Science and Engineering Research at NSF.” National Science Foundation: Where Discoveries Begin, www.nsf.gov/mps/quantum/quantum_research_at_nsf.jsp.

“Technology & Science.” U.S. Government Accountability Office: A Century of Non-Partisan Fact-Based Work, 

“TRANSFORMING TECHNOLOGY IN CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT THROUGH STRATEGY, INNOVATION, AND DELIVERY.” CA.gov, cdt.ca.gov/.

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