Computing Research Policy Blog

What about “insourcing”?

Another perspective on the outsourcing issue, from an editorial in The News & Observer on February 2nd. Makes the point that even as some computing programming jobs have headed offshore, a large number of “heavy industry” jobs, including the manufacturing of vehicles, computers, electronics and other machinery have actually been “insourced” because “U.S. is still an attractive location for the siting of plants matching advanced technology and equipment with highly skilled labor and modern research.”
Click below for the full editorial….

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Science Committee to Hold Visa Policy Hearing

Just learned today that the House Science Committee is planning a hearing for February 25, 2004, to consider the impact of the current US visa policy on science. CRA has been among many groups within the scientific community that have raised concerns that tighter visa policies post-9/11 have affected international collaborations, conferences, and the participation of foreign students and faculty in US research efforts. No word yet on hearing witnesses, but I’d think the committee would be looking for folks who can speak broadly about the policy implications across disciplines.
More details as they emerge….

Software Bug Contributed to Blackout of 2003

Demonstrating the critical role software plays in the nation’s critical infrastructure, a software bug in a widely-used energy-management system appears to have suppressed an alarm that should have alerted one of the first utilities involved in the blackout early enough for them to have averted its spread. Security Focus has the story.

Highlights from the House Science Budget Hearing

The biggest news from the annual House Science Committee budget briefing was confirmation that NSF Director Rita Colwell was indeed resigning and that NIST Director Arden Bement would become interim director beginning February 22, 2004.
Colwell will become head of the newly created Canon U.S. Life Sciences, Inc., and accept academic appointment with UMD and Johns Hopkins University.
Other budget hearing highlights:

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More on Colwell

The Chronicle for Higher Ed reports that NSF Director Rita Colwell will announce her resignation today and that Arden Bement, current director of NIST, will take over NSF on a temporary basis beginning Feb 21. Here’s the scoop: The Chronicle: Daily news: 02/11/2004 — 02
I’m headed to the Science Committee budget hearing today, so I’ll fill in the rest of the details when I get back.

Hollywood May Seek Legislation to Plug “Analog Hole”

If the entertainment industry can’t agree with hardware, software and electronics producers on how best to protect digital content, they will look to Congress again this year for legislation mandating a technological solution, the National Journal (subscription req’d) reports.

 The problem “can be fixed with legislation later this year,” requiring technology companies to apply anti-piracy technology to the analog outputs of computers, digital televisions and digital videodisc players, said Ron Wheeler, senior vice president of content protection for Fox.
“I would guess that Congress would do what it takes to help the United States’ number one export industry,” said Mitch Singer, executive vice president of Sony’s digital policy group. “At some point, we are going to need help. We may see some interesting assistance from Congress.”

Wheeler and Singer, who dominated a panel on the piracy of feature films, said more anti-piracy tools must be mandated. Wheeler said he believes a proposal will be put forward later this year to require computer companies to use technologies that detect invisible watermarks on analog content and stop the copying or redistribution of that content.
The mandate would apply to “devices that digitize analog inputs of all kinds” and require them to apply digital copyright restrictions “on all analog-to-digital conversion,” Wheeler said. He said the technology would help close the analog hole and fight movie piracy from Movielink, from digital video recorders or from DVDs.

Fortunately, the entertainment industry didn’t get the action they wanted in 2002 when they last tried this (though they did get a favorable FCC decision in 2003 requiring digital TV manufacturers to honor a “digital flag” protecting content). The technology community was united in opposing it. We’ll see if the alliance holds this time around….

Study of Visas and Students

–India Remains The Top Sending Country-
— IIE Online Survey Suggests Visa Application Process and Sluggish Global Economy Are Affecting Fall 2003 Enrollments —
After five years of steady growth, the number of international students attending colleges and universities in the United States in 2002/03 showed only a slight increase over the prior year, up less than 1%, bringing the 2002-03 total to 586,323, according to Open Doors 2003, the annual report on international education published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
For more: Open Doors: International Students in the US

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