An outspoken group of information and communications technology innovators is worried that the United States is falling behind the rest of the world in technological innovation because fewer dollars are being allocated to long-term research.
Many in the research community also believe that the research being conducted today is too focused on short-term, market-oriented results. The current DARPA policy, which mandates 12-month “go, no go” research milestones for information technology, has shortened deadlines, thus discouraging long-term research. And with more research focused on national security, programs formerly open to academics are now classified. DARPA has also slashed spending on academic research.
“Traditionally funding in computer sciences has come from the U.S. government,” Kleinrock said. “And it’s contributed to some remarkable advances, such as the Internet and artificial intelligence. They (the government) used to step back and with some direction let you go develop something new. But that’s not the case today. And DARPA is no longer thinking long-range.”
More competition, fewer dollars
The effects have been significant. In the last five years, IT proposals to the National Science Foundation jumped from 2,000 to 6,500, forcing the agency to leave many proposals unfunded. Other agencies, such as NASA, have also reduced spending on communications research. Since most government funding comes only from these two sources, researchers are flocking toward the NSF as DARPA cuts back or changes its priorities.