News: AAAS 2013 Annual Meeting News
William H. Press: How Much Should We Spend on Science?
Investments in science do not always yield predictable returns the way a bank account does, said AAAS President William H. Press, but countries that are “patient investors” in R&D stand ready to reap tremendous rewards.
In remarks before international reporters to open the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Press said the scientific enterprise is “the greatest mechanism ever invented” to turn human creativity into economic benefits. But, countries like the United States may not be able to capture these benefits if they cut off funding for basic research, he warned.
Press, a professor of computer science and integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin, said his presidential address tonight will discuss some of the most productive strategies countries might use to invest in both basic and applied research, and how universities and other institutions should be equipped to recognize the best new ideas and “ensure that they make it into the economic stream.”
Press, who also serves as a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), said that U.S. President Barack Obama has been very supportive of R&D funding, as the 1 March deadline for automatic, across-the-board, U.S. federal budget cuts known as sequestration approaches.
The science community is “hoping for the best” as the U.S. Congress works toward a budget solution to avoid sequestration, he said. “On most issues, support for science is bipartisan.”
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