Government Accountability Office Wants to Get TrendyStrategic Plan for 2018-2023, Cites Declining R&D Investment

Mar 9, 2018

The need for more Research and Development (R&D) funding has become a seemingly ubiquitous conversation topic with the Federal Government. In a move that drives home its importance, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released its report on “Trends Affecting Government and Society: Strategic Plan 2018-2023,” which delves into the status of R&D within the Federal Government. The report encourages further funding and development of these technologies to ensure long-term American economic and financial security, as well as maintain global R&D supremacy. Earlier this year the National Science Foundation released its 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators report, which showed that China has rapidly scaled up its R&D funding over the last five years and challenging the U.S.’s status as a global leader. For the U.S. to maintain its status, further investment in R&D must be made.

The GAO report identified five emerging technologies that, if given more R&D funding, could have a potentially transformative effect on society. These five technologies are:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Blockchain technology
  • Genome Editing
  • Brain-computer interfaces and virtual reality

While the report lauds the positive influences of these technologies, it also makes a point of discussing their downsides. Looking at AI, as beneficial as the technological advances may be, developing machines to “think” and act more intuitively as humans do “could have potentially disruptive social impacts and create the need for workers with drastically different job skills, which could cause worker shortages.” Yet, despite the negative outcomes, at the end of the day it is still in the U.S.’s best interest to continue funding this research. As the report explains, “In an environment of increasingly constrained resources, particularly at the federal level, investing in R&D efforts in a strategic and coordinated way will be critical.”

To view the full report, click here: https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/690262.pdf

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