Science and technology have utterly transformed human life in the past few generations, and forecasts of the future used to be measured in decades. But big changes arrive faster and faster these days. So here we've shifted our forecast to the near-term, because we're right on the verge of some extraordinary stuff. These are the trends and events to watch out for in 2013. See them all here.
With his second term secured, President Barack Obama can now turn his full attention to advancing the priorities that will help define his legacy. On the stump, Obama championed science and technology. Under his administration, those fields, particularly renewable energy and medical research, should continue to enjoy significant federal support over the next four years.
John Holdren, Obama's science and technology adviser, told Popular Science: "We are committed to continuing our focus on ensuring that science, technology, innovation, and education have the support they deserve in order to fuel America's economy, prepare the tech-savvy workforce and science-savvy citizenry of tomorrow, and meet the manifold challenges of health and biomedicine, energy, environment, and national security."
Although the lion's share of federal research dollars still goes to defense—56 percent in fiscal year 2012—7.5 percent is devoted explicitly to "general science and basic research." Close to half of that finances the Department of Energy's Office of Science, which supports work that advances the development of new fuels, materials, and technologies.
Assuming it escapes sequestration at the end of 2012, funding for health research, which accounted for 22 percent of R&D dollars in 2012, should also remain strong. Advocates of stem cell research are particularly elated over Obama's win. An executive order he signed in 2009 lifts some limits on the use of such cells for federally funded research.
Federal support for research and development has been declining in absolute terms since 2010; the National Science Foundation's R&D budget fell from $7.6 billion in 2009 to $5.5 billion in 2011. Obama has proposed spending $142 billion on R&D in 2013, about $1.7 billion more than last year—but the Republican-led House will likely attempt to cut nondefense research dollars, as it has for the last two years.
Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says his group is optimistic. Even given current politics, Leshner is confident Obama can protect R&D from the budget ax: "Investments in science, everyone agrees, are investments in the future that have paid off handsomely in the past."
One way the USA can be other 3rd world countries that work for dollars a day and make cheap products in our computer, automation and robotic manufacture of products.
The down side to this automated manufacturing is its encouragement of employment. So what's a country to do? Well we need to raise the level of what is free and available education in our country, so the public is more adaptable economic changes of now and the future.
College and Technical schools should become as free as all the other education below that is currently free.
We need to invest in the people of USA and their future, giving all of us adaptability and more opportunity!
We are a technology society and this time has arrived!
On a plus side of receiving more education reduces violence in society as well.
One way the USA can beat other 3rd world countries that work for dollars a day and make cheap products is our computer, automation and robotic manufacture of products.
Thank you Mr. President. This country needs all the funding possible for scientific endeavors and that all important edumacation.
Science funding would be served a lot better by a functioning economy than a president issuing loans/grants without a budget...
3% excise tax on Medical Device companies? Yeah its not like that's essentially a full drug trail per year or anything.
$13 Billion and counting loaned to in-trouble or bankrupt "green" companies? Oh well.
The President doesn't have power over scientific funding. He can suggest loans be made through executive departments, in which case you should thank the tax payers that fund it, not the president. And you should lament the amount of research that could've been done with that money privately in R&D, rather than in a government system (though thankfully government research and loans aren't nearly as inefficient as entitlements).
And Robot, that's a nice sentiment, but that won't work well. There is a Higher Education Bubble brewing right now, and it's going to cause our University system (best science-producing system in the world) to explode, in one way or another. Our graduate universities are the envy of the world because of the private research, general freedom, business partnerships, and inter-university competition. We could nationalize higher education, but we would get poorer STEM results.
As for making college free, it would only accelerate the ballooning of our system. Right now just the illusion of it being free is building a student debt tsunami and inflating tuition. If it was made free, it'd begin to rival Medicare, Medicaid, and SS in % of Federal expenditures.
It's already easy enough for people to get loans for profitable STEM degrees. What we need to reduce is the overvaluing of college (a culture perpetuated by teachers and parents) and we need to reduce or remove the flood of government grants and loans that are driving up tuition.
Let the universities have to compete for students again; make them have to control their ballooning administration sizes, and be worried about losing students because of massive tuition. Grad research is supported by undergrad operations. Fix the problems driving up cost and inefficiency at the undergrad level, and you'll clear up what is gunking up both the undergrad STEM fields that produce engineers and technicians vital to industry, and the grad STEMs vital to R&D and scientific development.
Bah! Where was this when I needed it? Tuition prices practically tripled for my community college and many of the classes that I needed were reduced to so few. I couldn't even transfer to a university for spring.
I'm not normally this irritated, but this was a bit late. Education should stay a priority in my book.
I reject your reality, and substitute my own.
Robot comments that we need to make more things free in this county. What is free bud?
You mean you want the government to confiscate more of my hard earned money and distribute it to others?
How about leaving my money alone and working for the funds or asking for donations rather than taking what is not yours. Just because the goverment gives itself the right to do so does not make it right. I already pay more than my "Fare" share.
Taking words out of context and exaggeration just makes your own point week.
Please say what you’re going to say as your opinion (you are entitled to your own opinion), back it up with facts if you like too, and make it clear.
I want more education to people, so they can adapt to a fast industrial technical economic fluctuating life, grow and prosper in life and not receive FREE handouts, while the country as a whole prospers too!