Sure, it was a lot to pack into a single speech.
Yesterday, President Obama covered everything from the Swine Flu to math tests in a speech to the National Academy of Sciences about his administration's innovation policy. But, there was some very specific significant news that came out of it.
Hint: This wasn't it...
Or many of the similar stories about the PCAST appointments.
Barack Obama on Monday promised to double public funding of scientific research to exceed the level Washington spent during the “space race” unleashed by Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy 50 years ago.
The US president’s pledge, made in a speech at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, included a promise to take ideology out of public research following what many scientists saw as the politicisation of science under George W. Bush – particularly in the field of climate change.
Under Mr Obama’s pledge, the US would increase to 3 per cent the proportion of gross domestic product it spends on scientific research and development – roughly the same level as under Kennedy.
Obama in his budget has proposed doubling the budgets for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He also introduced a new arm of the Department of Energy, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, designed to replicate the research success of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
In addition, he said he planned to triple the number of NSF graduate research fellowships.
Good for the FT and Information Week, but unfortunate that the Schmidt PCAST appointment, in particular, stepped on what should have been the headline of most of the coverage yesterday. Instead, we got analysis of Google's relationship with the Obama administration and paragraphs like this:
The role doesn't give Schmidt any decision making powers on the federal level. But it does place him in a seat of influence, potentially on issues that impact Google like network neutrality, privacy and copyright.
Actually, yes, no and no. Because, if this were the case, this fellow PCAST member would soon be deep in shaping the future of Internet policy...
Barbara Schaal is Professor of Biology at Washington University in St Louis. She is a renowned plant geneticist who has used molecular genetics to understand the evolution and ecology of plants, ranging from the US Midwest to the tropics.
The usually smart All Things D blog chimes in with: "(The Schmidt appointment) is one more indication–and the biggest one yet–that Google has become firmly part of the Washington establishment."
Not really and absolutely not.
You see, PCAST is a well-respected body that has been employed by most presidents in the last fifty years or so. But, it is, to its core, a top-notch blue-ribbon panel made up of academics, researchers and select industry folk. Check out what the PCAST team in the Bush White House developed here. And, here is a link to the Clinton PCAST page.
Saying that this is the cherry on top of Google becoming part of the "Washington establishment" is paramount to saying that the "Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University now has the same access to the Obamas as the first puppy." (Daniel Schrag, the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology in said department is also a member)
Even with an exponential increase in prioritization from the Obama Administration, PCAST will remain a helpful body that focuses on big picture research issues and ensuring that the country remains competitive by providing balance of innovation incentives and tools for learning. But, it will not be deciding the future of net neutrality.