The US presidential election next Tuesday will shape the world for years, if not decades, to come. Not only because Joe Biden and Donald Trump have radically different ideas about immigration, health care, race, the economy, climate change, and the role of the state itself, but because they represent very different visions of the US's future as a technology superpower. As a nonprofit, MIT Technology Review cannot endorse a candidate. Our main message is that whoever wins, it will not be enough for him to fix the US's abject failures in handling the pandemic and to take climate change seriously. He will also have to get the country back on a competitive footing with China, a rapidly rising tech superpower that now has the added advantage of not being crippled by covid-19.
WASHINGTON – From his lab in Toulouse, France, Benjamin Sanderson models the range of extreme risks to humans from climate change, research he hopes can inform policymakers planning for worsening wildfires and floods. It is the kind of work he once performed in the United States -- and hopes to again soon. Sanderson is among dozens of U.S.-based climate scientists who shifted their research to France, or sought refuge in academia or in left-leaning states like California after Republican Donald Trump was elected in 2016. They worried his administration's distrust of science would impact their ability to finance and advance their work. Now, with the presidential election looming -- and Democrat Joe Biden ahead in the polls and promising to prioritize the role of science in policymaking -- some of these researchers hope for a return to the days when the United States was viewed as the best place on earth to do their jobs.
On Wednesday at noon Eastern, Future Tense will host an hourlong online discussion about the relationship between the U.S. government, national security, and private industry. When in 1791 Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton presented his plan to Congress to develop a U.S. manufacturing sector, he kick-started a debate about the role of the federal government in industrial policy that has run consistently through the history of the republic. In recent years, though, despite the examples of industrial policy enthusiasts like Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower, the prevailing political climate--driven by the Tea Party's influence on congressional Republicans--has been to largely reject the idea that government should "interfere" with the free market at all. In practice, the federal government has continued a wide range of measures that support industry, especially in the defense sector. Nevertheless, such has been the political climate that even the Obama administration's investments to promote recovery from the 2008 financial crisis (especially under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) became the fodder for bitter partisan controversy, with 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan declaring during the campaign that "the big problems we have today … [is] … [p]icking winners and losers in the economy through spending, through tax breaks, through regulations does not work." As a result, not only has there been a lack of public discussion, beyond a small group of academic and think tankers, about how the U.S. should run its industrial strategy, but there has been even less effort to optimize the federal government's ability to do that.
Until late Sept. 2020, no one had asked a candidate at a presidential debate about climate change for 12 years. Fox News journalist Chris Wallace ended the streak last week with surprise climate questions during the first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. But the often-ignored topic returned in the vice-presidential debate, too. On Wednesday night, USA Today journalist Susan Page allotted some 10 minutes to a topic that, year after year, is growing in salience as the planet continually warms. Yet the questions were rudimentary or unproductive, having not progressed much beyond assessing repeatedly proven, evidence-based science.
Vice President Joe Biden is more optimistic today than he has ever been in his entire career -- and he's certain we're on the cusp of of unprecedented scientific and technological breakthroughs that can change the fight against cancer. "We have an obligation to help, not later, not tomorrow -- now," Biden said Monday at the 2016 Social Good Summit in New York. "What I'd like to talk to you about is my hope that by the year 2030, we'll live in a world where cancer is ended as we know it," he later added. SEE ALSO: Joe Biden opens up about his son's death in emotional interview with Colbert To reach that goal, Biden announced three major steps through the National Cancer Moonshot initiative, an effort he has led since January, which aims to "accelerate progress toward prevention, treatment and a cure." "We have the resources to defeat #cancer and your generation is going to do it, God willing."