society

America needs more scientists and engineers. Will a contest help?

Posted on June 5, 2012. Filed under: science & technology, society | Tags: , , |

Slate.com is engaged in a June  “full-court press” (it’s own words) to investigate why science education is lagging and how to improve it.  According to Slate “Inspiring the next generation of inventors, healers, and builders is perhaps the single most important public policy question of our time.”

In addition to stories that will run this month, Slate is soliciting proposals that you, I, and anyone can make and vote on.  This approach to idea generation has been used by government agencies and some private sector companies to decent effect, although typically the agency or organization has the power to implement the ideas that rise to the top.

So do I think a contest will help America begin to build back its cadre of scientists and engineers?  Not really.  Not this one.  But any effort to keep the conversation going is worth it in my book.  Your thoughts?

 

NKS Info Services, your research, writing and editing partner

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Global Technological Risks

Posted on March 3, 2012. Filed under: globalization, policy, society | Tags: , , |

Global risks don’t respect national boundaries.  That’s why it might be a good idea to pay attention to thought leaders like the World Economic Forum and it’s Global Risks 2012 report, 7th edition, released in January 2012.  The report analyzes 50 global risks, 10 each in economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological categories.

To quote Security Management, “You may need a stiff drink after reading this sobering report. If, instead, you’re of a mind to be dismissive of such projections, consider that this same group put “asset price collapse” as its number one global risk in 2007 and as early as 2006 had asset bubbles and the massive misallocation of capital in the U.S. property market as the number one global concern.” (source: Editor’s Note: Fighting Butterfly Effects with Starfish Resilience, Mar. 2, 2012)

So what are the ten global technological risks to monitor?  In more or less alphabetical order:

  •  chronic systems failure* (the technology “centre of gravity”)
  • cyber attacks**
  • the failure of intellectual property regimes
  • the mass dissemination of false information online
  • a massive incident of data fraud or theft
  • mineral resource supply vulnerability
  • the proliferation of space debris in satellite orbits
  • the unintended consequences of climate change mitigation, nanotechnology and new life sciences

* critical systems failure – highest impact, lower liklihood, but deemed technological centre of gravity because of its important influence and consequence

** cyber attacks – highest liklihood and high impact

Clearly these (and the other global risks identified by the World Economic Forum) canot be solved by a single business, industry, or even a single country.  But that does not mean individual businesses and industries should not be aware of these risks and considering potential impacts.  In fact, they clearly should!

Need research or writing assistance?  Perhaps I can help. 

~Nora K. Stoecker, NKS Info Services

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Outlook for America to Compete for Quality Jobs Has Deteriorated, Says National Academies

Posted on September 29, 2010. Filed under: policy, science & technology, society | Tags: , , |

In spite of the efforts of those in both the government and the private sector, the outlook for America to compete for quality jobs has further deteriorated in the past five years.  This according to its follow-on report Rising above the Gathering Storm Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5.   The executive summary can be downloaded at no charge from the NAS website.

The nation’s public school system has shown little sign of improvement, particularly in math and science, and the government has lost latitude to address the problem due to the growth of the national debt.  (Though, in my opinion, it was too slow to react in earlier years when more opportunity existed.)

This is a sobering report, and one we should all take time to understand. –nks

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