Following in the wake of news stories and OpEds in the New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News editorializes today on the negative impact of DARPA’s shift away from university researchers in computer science and engineering.
Of all the government sources of funding for basic technology research, few have delivered more breakthroughs for Silicon Valley and the U.S. economy than the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.
That’s why a shift away from basic and university research in DARPA funding is alarming for the valley and for the future of innovation in the United States. Long-term casualties could eventually include America’s competitiveness and military readiness.
The shift at DARPA is all the more troubling as it goes hand in hand with decreases in funding for basic research across the Pentagon and at the National Science Foundation. What’s more, these subtle yet significant changes have occurred without a national debate.
The time to have that debate is now. If these trends continue, America will pay dearly for them.
Fortunately, it appears that Congress is getting interested in having that debate. In early May the House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the issue. Testifying before the committee will be John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Tony Tether, Director of DARPA; Bill Wulf, President of the National Academy of Engineering; and Tom Leighton, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist at Akamai Industries, and Chair of the PITAC Subcommittee on Cyber Security, which just released it’s review of the federal government’s cyber security R&D programs. We, of course, will bring you all the details.
In the meantime, read the full editorial.