I’m currently enjoying the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference, but thought I’d quickly point out a story in Tech Daily (subscription required), about Intel CEO Craig Barrett’s comments as part of the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation event on the Hill yesterday. Here are some of the choice bits:
As Intel CEO Craig Barrett announced a joint task force of technology companies and academia that favors more government funding of basic research, on Tuesday he criticized U.S. budget priorities and called on policymakers to “make investments in the 21st century.”
While emphasizing that the task force’s mission is not about “physical research versus agricultural subsidies,” Barrett took exception to the $30 billion in annual agriculture subsidies appropriated by Congress. He also said some of the $250 billion in the transportation bill pending before Congress would be better spent on physicists and engineers than roads and bridges.
“It’s a choice between a bridge to an island or a bridge to the future,” Barrett said at a news conference. He said the huge sums appropriated in such bills represent “an investment in the industries of the 19th century.”
Noting that funding for basic research has remained flat in inflation-adjusted dollars and cut by 37 percent as a share of gross domestic product over the past 30 years, the task force said such a trend will have dire consequences for American economic growth, global stability and prosperity.
They noted that technologies like the World Wide Web, fiber optics and magnetic resonance imaging all originated as basic research projects. Funding of such work at U.S. universities helped launch thousands of spin-off companies, employed hundreds of thousands of workers and generated billions of dollars in sales, the task force concluded.
The semiconductor industry alone had global sales of $166 billion last year, the task force stated.