Jay Sidie: The government should support scientific and technological innovation in a variety of ways.
First, create a supportive environment for research and innovation to take place. Findings using reliable scientific methods should not be dismissed outright because they may not align with the government’s ideology. Constructively question and criticize, yes. But ignore, hide or dismiss, no.
Second, appropriately fund this research and do so using different funding models, including programs funded through public and private grants, and initiatives sourced through partnerships between industry and government.
Third, actively adopt innovative scientific and technological solutions into government processes to better serve “customers” and be more productive overall.
Jay Sidie: We cannot ignore the crazy climate change variability that is occurring all across our planet.
In response to this, we need to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and work hand-in-hand with other nations to tackle the root causes. We also should focus on developing environmentally friendly technologies, creating renewable energy sources (like wind and solar) and adopting environmentally safer practices and products. The United States only stands to gain from developing these technologies, as we create jobs, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, which are ever-depleting, and damaging to our planet.
Jay Sidie: Cyber security and privacy protections must be key areas of focus for our government in the immediate future. We should look at adopting nationally the stringent privacy rules put in place by the European Union. America needs to place tough restrictions on how personal data is collected, stored and used.
In the area of cyber security, we must focus on adopting solutions that combat phishing, fraud and ransomware. We also need to work on increasing the monitoring and auditing of networks to combat cyber-attacks and the misuse of consumer information.
Jay Sidie: There are so many benefits to early diagnosis and intervention. Related to this, we need to develop integrated treatment plans with the goal of empowering those struggling with mental health issues, putting many on a road to recovery.
We also need to address the epidemic of homelessness in America. We need to develop and support services that address long-term homelessness. We should also look at short-term financial help, job-training opportunities and transitional housing assistance.
Jay Sidie: We definitely need to expand STEM education access, especially for young women and people of color. I also would support increased teacher training in STEM education as well as the expansion of programs that offer STEM-based education and training.
Jay Sidie: Water is life, and there are many steps we can take to ensure that this sustaining resource remains available and clean. We should continue and expand water-quality monitoring so that the water we are drinking is healthy and safe from chemicals and contaminants. Given the climate changes we are seeing, we should redouble our efforts to address states’ approaches to drought and water-supply planning. We also should look at water usage, we should educate the public about using water more efficiently and effectively.
Jay Sidie: A key area to consider when managing American agriculture is how and where we use pesticides. Identifying alternatives to the toxic chemical pesticides that came into wide use in the ‘60s would be a focus of mine. We must develop farming techniques that protect the both environment and the public.
We also should invest in the development of urban farming techniques, and in the education and training of the next generation of farmers.
Jay Sidie: Space exploration is difficult and expensive but often allows for important, scientific discoveries, and has been the reason for many of our best technological advances.. We need to work with other nations to develop a framework for future travel. We also should consider robotic exploration ideas and projects jointly funded by government and industry.
Jay Sidie: For protecting and rejuvenating our oceans, we need to focus on stopping pollution and curbing over fishing. Plastic pollution – in particular, micro plastics – continues to have devastating consequences to sea life. I would love to see an increase in volunteer beach cleanups and regulations reducing the availability of single-use plastics, like straws and grocery bags, for example. In this area, I believe we could also build in more grants and other government funding to incentivize effective ways to fix the disastrous effects of our reliance on plastic on our oceans.
Jay Sidie: The importance of scientific research for informing policy decisions cannot be overstated. Rather than reducing our budget for basic scientific research, I would work to increase it. Hostility toward researchers and their research results needs to be stopped. This means we need to elect leaders who respect the scientific process and understand the value applied scientific research brings to our citizenry, our nation and our planet.
Jay Sidie: These are some additional issues important to address:
Antibiotic resistance. A growing number of infections are becoming resistant to antibiotics. We need to look at alternative ways to treat infection (drug research), as well as regulate the current overuse of antibiotics in livestock (chickens, cows, pigs, etc.).
Artificial Intelligence. Not just its use in phishing or spreading fake news (mentioned in the responses above) but how it can be used for making weapons more destructive and for increasing the ability of even just one person to cause widespread violence and mayhem.
Nuclear safeguards. Given our current high-stakes relationships with North Korea and China, we must work to minimize threats. We should also review our policies about how to respond to what looks like a nuclear attack.
Obesity. More and more American adults and children are suffering from obesity, and we know that this can cause a great number of diseases that are costly to treat. It also can negatively impact emotional well-being. Obesity is a complex problem, but we should look at the educational component as well as ways to motivate behavior changes, like implementing soda taxes. Mexico, for example, has curbed soda consumption with a soda tax. But recently, California bowed to pressure from the industry and banned local soda taxes. That should raise an alarm.
Medical marijuana. Marijuana has medicinal benefits and has been used to address chronic pain, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and inflammation, among other inflictions. We need to nationally legalize medical marijuana, as well as complete some larger-scale research studies that look more closely at the impact of the plant on treating the health-related issues, including how it might help with the current opioid crisis.
Organizations Who Developed the Questions: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Council on Competitiveness, IEEE-USA, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Media Partner: Scientific American