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    27 Apr 2015

    Future postponed: The US will suffer from an innovation deficit if more funding is cut

    US businesses and organisations could be subject to cyberattacks as research into secure systems is “non-existent or too small”, a report from MIT has said.
    It is one of a series of stark warnings from the University that the US could drop behind other countries in the world and miss out on important technological developments because of funding cuts.
    Everything from brain technology to infectious diseases, defense technology and more are outlined as the 15 areas that will suffer the most.
    The report also warned that other countries, such as China, are putting more of their resources into research programmes and that funding cuts can cause “long term damage” to the country.
    One researcher, March Kastner, added that scientific findings may be “unpredictable” but pay off over time – in response to the report, The Future Postponed’.
    “Some areas of research are so strategically important that for the US to fall behind ought to be alarming,” the authors of the report said.
    “Yet Chinese leadership in supercomputing—its Tianhe-2 machine at the Chinese National University of Defense in Guangzhou has won top ranking for the third year in a row and can now do quadrillions of calculations per second—is just such a straw in the wind.”
    The academics went on to say that further in the future there could be damage to national projects as well as domestic ones.
    “Another is our apparent and growing vulnerability to cyberattacks of the type that have damaged Sony, major banks, large retailers and other major companies.
    “Ultimately, it will be basic research in areas such as photonics, cybersecurity, and quantum computing (where China is investing heavily) that determine leadership in secure information systems, in secure long distance communications, and in supercomputing.”

    MIT has produced the report in response to competitiors around the world increasing their investment in basic research and contrasting this with the US federal budget devoted to research falling to around 4%. In 1968, the university points out in a press release, the federal research budget was 10%.
    Thirty of MIT’s senior staff members formed a committee to evaluate ‘the innovation deficit’ and produced the 50 page report.
    Fusion energy, which could power the entire world,  was listed as one of the areas that US could fall behind on if more investment isn’t provided. This is despite recent US led advancements in superconducting wires and tapes – as well as more than 3,600 people being employed in the sector.
    “The US has world-leading depth in measurement, theory and computation for fusion research, but it cannot be sustained for long in the absence of new experimental facilities,” the researchers wrote.
    “No research program can guarantee a successful outcome, but the potential to accelerate the development of fusion as a source of clean, always-available electricity should not be ignored.”

    The report also said that while the US is the leading country in the world for using industrial robots, there is no US company that is a market leader in creating them.
    “The US is already relying on other countries to provide industrial robots,” the report said.
    “Staying competitive in rapidly growing and evolving new markets for robotics will require larger investments.”
    Despite the robotics research that is being completed by organisations such asDARPANASA and universities scattered across the country, the MIT researchers said that research opportunities can still exist to make robots more useful to humans.

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