FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bush, Kerry Put Tech on Back Burner

Hear much about the presidential candidates' views on technology lately? Me neither. The omission hasn't gone unnoticed, as the Washington Post has noted.

At the Gartner ITxpo in Orlando this past week, Intel head Craig Barrett issued a scathing assessment of the candidates' positions on technology. Barrett argues that this lack of attention to technology is causing the U.S. to lose its competitive edge:

"I visit 30 countries a year and the country most blasé about IT is the one I'm in now," Barrett said. "Even the French believe in the Internet." Barrett added America lacks the "enthusiasm" for technology that he so often sees in Asia, Eastern Europe and even Africa...

To get back in the game, the federal government should increase the $5.57 billion budget of the National Science Foundation, which researches infrastructure, Barrett said, and reduce the approximately $25 billion in agricultural subsidies...

"We're still in denial," he said. "The U.S. is good at ignoring the incremental messages, and eventually we'll wake up and realize we need to compete."

Meanwhile, ExpressIndia notes that in terms of technology relations between the U.S. and other countries such as India, even aggressive change will move slowly:

Whoever wins the tight presidential election, which is less than two weeks away, there is bound to be significant change of personnel in the US Government.

Even if President George W. Bush returns to power, there would be movement in and out of the Administration. If Senator John Kerry wrests the White House, his administration could take months to settle down. In that event, little political business between New Delhi and Washington would be conducted before next summer.

Under Kerry, there is the prospect of a comprehensive review of the Bush policies. Given the intense polarization of American politics today, delays in expanding high-technology cooperation under a Democratic Administration must be expected in New Delhi.

Perhaps things will change as the campaign moves into its final weeks. Much will depend, though on how hard the candidates stump in tech-heavy states. So far, much of the emphasis has been in the so-called "swing states" where the candidates are talking about preserving non-technology jobs. Discussing technology too much may be seen as a risky move because it bring up the spectre of job elimination through outsourcing and automation

Student Pugwash, a group affiliated with MIT, offers a comprehensive voters' guide to the candidates' stands on technology issues.