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US Looks For Input On "The Next Big Things"

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the talking-fruit dept.

Government 309

coondoggie writes "What are the next big things in science and technology? Teleportation? Unlimited clean Energy? The scientists and researchers at DARPA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy put out a public call this week for ideas that could form what they call the Grand Challenges — ambitious yet achievable goals that that would herald serious breakthroughs in science and technology."

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309 comments

Like a junkie, loooking for the next fix. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41615867)

We always want to know what's next, what's the exciting thing we can dream will solve all our problems. But we don't want to finance it. And we don't want to finance the basic research for those big things without promise of a payoff.

Re:Like a junkie, loooking for the next fix. (3, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#41615903)

We always want to know what's next, what's the exciting thing we can dream will solve all our problems. But we don't want to finance it. And we don't want to finance the basic research for those big things without promise of a payoff.

These types of challenges encourage private financing. If it spurs innovation and costs very little to the taxpayer, what's the problem?

And no, I'm not saying we shouldn't fund science grants. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

Research (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616133)

Too much emphasis has been put into basic research.

I am not pooh-pooh the basic research, but we outta understand that basic research is just one of the many kinds of research out there.

Japan leapfrogged Europe and USA back in the 1970's to 1980's by NOT focussing on basic research. They just took what the West had researched and applied the knowledges to the things they made.

And now China and India are doing what Japan did 30 years ago.

Re:Research (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616159)

Yea well, the problem with that is you can't just copy basic research from someplace else, because there isn't anyone to copy from. With China catching up and most likely passing the US soon enough there will be. But that really means research will shift to China, and US will be the copycats. Good luck with your IP rights protection attempts and trying to copy things at the same time.

Re:Research (5, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616225)

Too much emphasis has been put into basic research.

Clearly a quote from someone not working in research. The problem facing research and development today is that there is not nearly enough focus on basic research - everything is about immediate, applied applications - which is the highest risk type of research you can do, since the goal is "build a very specific thing". And it doesn't broaden your horizons since you're aiming at specific targets informed by existing theory.

Re:Research (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616415)

The real issue facing R&D is niggers. Either we need to round them all up and ship them to Africa where they can live in the mud huts they claim to long for or we bring back slavery and put the newfound free labor to work for superior races.

Re:Like a junkie, loooking for the next fix. (1)

smaddox (928261) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616327)

Exactly. Probably the most important advancement currently being pursued is self-driving cars. Google/Stanford are getting very close. It's only a matter of time. And guess what? It started as a DARPA challenge. The first couple of contests were a complete bust, but eventually advancements were made, and then Google took over.

Re:Like a junkie, loooking for the next fix. (4, Insightful)

Dr Max (1696200) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616031)

But you guys defiantly want to patent it. Good thing for you is you don't need to research it or fund it, just write a brief paragraph about your dream then sue whoever does the hard work.

zero national debt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41615871)

Science fiction though

Plasma rifles... (1, Troll)

GrpA (691294) | about a year and a half ago | (#41615885)

I want to see a grand challenge to develop Plasma Rifles... And not the "Halo" kind, but a follow-on from the early development projects of the 1990's.

Re:Plasma rifles... (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41615925)

Do you really think humans need more ways to kill each other?

Re:Plasma rifles... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41615937)

Clearly the Plasma Rifles are for hunting purposes.

Re:Plasma rifles... (2)

GrpA (691294) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616005)

Do you really think humans need more ways to kill each other?

Yes. Because the more ways we have to kill each other, the less we are likely to use them...

Not so much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616097)

Do you really think humans need more ways to kill each other?

Yes. Because the more ways we have to kill each other, the less we are likely to use them...

I hope you were being facetious. History is rife with examples to the contrary. My personal favorite is the Maxim machine gun, the first automatic rifle.

But it should be noted that Maxim hoped to arm the world against war. He looked upon the Maxim gun as a deterrent; He felt the destructive power of his weapon was so great that nations would never again go to war.

Within scant few years, his invention would be called the "Devil's Paintbrush" [mca-marines.org] —responsible for millions of deaths in World War I, the greatest war the world had ever seen.

But what, you may say, about nuclear weapons? Weapons of mass destruction only imbue stability at a state level. Conflict still burns, via asymmetric warfare and proxy wars. Mutually assured destruction has to be credible, comprehensive, and inevitable in order for it to be effective.

All that said, I prefer the march of progress, including weapons technology. If conflict comes, I hope my side has an unfair advantage. Drone pwn.

I just don't have any illusion that more efficient killing machines somehow lead to pacifying ethical crises in their potential users.

Re:Plasma rifles... (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616367)

Actually, we already have homemade portable rail guns, and lasers powerful enough to kill the things at which you point them. (Search gizmag.com for examples.)

In comparison, a plasma rifle -- even in the 40-watt range -- would probably be rather ineffective.

Predictions ... (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#41615889)

... are hard to make. Particularly about the future.

Re:Predictions ... (2)

Dantoo (176555) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616039)

Well I would like them to find a way to make Pizza taste as good the day after. Nothing you can do with it seems to bring back the consistency, aroma and taste that it has when it first hits the table.

I confidently make a prediction that this will never happen.

Re:Predictions ... (4, Informative)

MachDelta (704883) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616101)

Nuke it for 1/2-2/3rds the time you normally would, then finish it in the oven/toaster oven on broil.

It might take a few tries but you can get pretty close.

Re:Predictions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616307)

You can get a combo microwave/conventional oven that gets close too. It's basically a microwave with a griller element as well.

Re:Predictions ... (2)

smaddox (928261) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616315)

I prefer to put it straight into the toaster oven on toast. It comes out crispier than fresh, so not exactly the same, but incredibly delicious.

Re:Predictions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616111)

Well - we cam make one prediction...

Whatever it is, it cannot be anything involving software in the USA - because because the far to generic patents have killed any chance for innovation over there..

Re:Predictions ... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616335)

... are ridiculously easy to make. Particularly about the future.

Correct predictions, on the other hand, are a completely different matter.

Re:Predictions ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616431)

Easy enough. It's the cloud dudes : http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/10/11/0035259/kurzweil-the-cloud-will-expand-human-brain-capacity

simple things (5, Insightful)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about a year and a half ago | (#41615921)

How bout -

1. Cheap and easy ways to clean water for the world
2. Cheap and easy ways to provide light for the world
3. Cheap and easy ways to feed the world
4. Cheap and easy ways to maintain sanitation
5. Cheap and easy ways to provide education to the world.

That's what I'd like to see a focus on. Unfortunately, we're spending money on forcing the chevy volt on the world instead.

Re:simple things (1, Interesting)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616081)

Easy.

Thorium motherfucking reactors. Goddamn we've had this technology for how long and it isn't used because of some asshole president? Yeah I'm mad as hell. Practically free energy right at our fingertips -- completely free, virtually clean -- AND WERE NOT USING IT.

Re:simple things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616141)

Easy.

Thorium motherfucking reactors. Goddamn we've had this technology for how long and it isn't used because of some asshole president? Yeah I'm mad as hell. Practically free energy right at our fingertips -- completely free, virtually clean -- AND WERE NOT USING IT.

You beat yourself with your statement. Something that is already known, being developed, and kept in reserve can hardly be the Next Big Thing.

Re:simple things (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616249)

Easy.

Thorium motherfucking reactors. Goddamn we've had this technology for how long and it isn't used because of some asshole president? Yeah I'm mad as hell. Practically free energy right at our fingertips -- completely free, virtually clean -- AND WERE NOT USING IT.

You beat yourself with your statement. Something that is already known, being developed, and kept in reserve can hardly be the Next Big Thing.

That's not true: there's plenty of design and technical challenges to implementing Thorium reactors in a scalable way. And the concept could easily be expanded to a re-investment in the development of nuclear fission power generating technology - which, broadly, should go under the umbrella of a widespread investment in fusion projects of all types.

Re:simple things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616177)

yes Yes YEs YES !
LFTRs LFTRs all the way!

ooops sorry don't they have RADATION --- OMG no
we are all going to die because we talked about RADATION.

Re:simple things (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616187)

completely free

BULLSHIT

Re:simple things (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616155)

1. Cheap and easy ways to clean water for the world
2. Cheap and easy ways to provide light for the world
3. Cheap and easy ways to feed the world
4. Cheap and easy ways to maintain sanitation
5. Cheap and easy ways to provide education to the world.

All solved problems. Just use the developed world approach. A couple centuries ago, most of the developed world was as least as bad off as the Third World is now. What changed is that they built the infrastructure which allowed all that. It might not be as cheap and easy as you'd like, but it is cheap and easy enough.

Re:simple things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616467)

Brilliant! What country do you think it'd be best for them to invade first? I think the easiest target would be the Vatican, their current army could be taken out by a few hundred of AK-bearing kids in a single day. But then they'd have to be careful not to put the new slaves anywhere close the child slaves, so making use of the new workers would be a logistical challenge.

Re:simple things (2)

gQuigs (913879) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616175)

Donate some CPU cycles to the cause:

There are World Community Grid projects for Clean Sustainable Water, Energy, and fighting lots of diseases. They previously had projects looking into improving the nutritious content in rice. http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/ [worldcommunitygrid.org]

It's powered by BOINC. http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ [berkeley.edu] which also let's you donate to so many other worthy projects. http://boinc.berkeley.edu/projects.php [berkeley.edu]

Re:simple things (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616251)

How bout -

1. Cheap and easy ways to clean water for the world
2. Cheap and easy ways to provide light for the world
3. Cheap and easy ways to feed the world
4. Cheap and easy ways to maintain sanitation
5. Cheap and easy ways to provide education to the world.

Yeah, the last Savior only took care of the first three.

Re:simple things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616377)

How bout -

1. Cheap and easy ways to clean water for the world
2. Cheap and easy ways to provide light for the world
3. Cheap and easy ways to feed the world
4. Cheap and easy ways to maintain sanitation
5. Cheap and easy ways to provide education to the world.

That's what I'd like to see a focus on. Unfortunately, we're spending money on forcing the chevy volt on the world instead.

How do you think first world countries got all that stuff, magic? You can't just make all that happen somewhere else, while respecting their sovereignty.

It's like "fixing" homelessness by giving someone a house. Are you going to pay their bills, give them a job, keep them from fucking it up, drive them around, buy them work clothes, kick their habits, etc? There's only so much you can solve by throwing money at a problem, the rest needs to come from within.

We didn't get where we are overnight, so it's stupid to look at a developing country and ask why we don't just make them the way we are. You don't control them.

Re:simple things (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616393)

The next great goal is blindingly obvious and when we start solving it many problems created by our activities will be resolved, 'GRAVITY'. A real understanding of gravity and the direct manipulation of gravitic fields or gravitons, will make a lot of technological dreams possible and now war required, simply the desire to expand humanity to the other planets in our system as well the orbits about them. Cheaply and effectively getting high mass objects out of our pesky gravity well the obvious goal. Likely a great deal of focused energy will be required to achieve it but logically access to even greater amounts of energy became possible. Of course we could start bumping into the powers that be and some behavioural adjustment might be required so as not to be perceived as a pest that needs to be controlled.

Re:simple things (3, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616567)

I'd settle for a cheap and easy male contraception pill. If that came on the global market soon then I think the other 5 problems you mention would disappear within 25 years.

Unlimited clean energy? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41615939)

Well, it better not be cheap.

Because cheap (or free), clean, unlimited energy would collapse the economy overnight and the ramifications of that would change the world as we know it. I'm all for unlimited clean energy because I'm sure that stuff is great for the environment, but not at the expense of my life style. So if someone does come up with this, it better cost a few hundred million (or more) bucks to build a reactor and get it online.

If it turns out to be some whacky rig that any redneck can assemble with duct tape and a few supplies from Home Depot, well, that's going to be a wee bit of a problem.

Re:Unlimited clean energy? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616063)

I don't see the problem. People still have to do stuff with that energy. Energy suppliers would go out of business, but things like oil will still be useful for fertilizers, plastics, or lubrication of machine parts. Trade of goods would continue, and it would be more brisk, as everyone would have limitless energy to move goods from one locale to another.

Re:Unlimited clean energy? (5, Interesting)

bertok (226922) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616069)

It would change things for the better, not worse.

There might be some very short-lived havoc in the markets caused by the sudden devaluation of energy company stocks, but that's it.

First of all, most energy consumers aren't using fungible energy forms like electricity, but specific forms such as coal (smelting) or oil (fertilizers, fuel). Even if electricity was made free overnight, petrol would still cost money the next day! Converting all factories to purely electricity and building plants to generate hydrocarbon feedstock from CO2 and electricity would require massive investment in capital works. The markets would recover, and the result would be a boom like no other. Engineers that lost their jobs in the oil extraction industry would retrain and find jobs in the oil generation industry, or the oil-to-electricity plant conversion industry.

On top of that, whole new industries would pop up or get a massive boost. For example, recycling is mostly a question of energy. Currently, it's just not worth it for a lot of things. Given unlimited free energy, the local rubbish tip suddenly becomes an worthwhile source of rare metals.

To see how stupid your statement is, imagine living on a Moon base. What if somebody proposes a new technology for the free production of Oxygen:

"Because cheap (or free), clean, unlimited oxygen would collapse the economy overnight and the ramifications of that would change the world as we know it. I'm all for unlimited clean air because I'm sure that stuff is great for people, but not at the expense of my life style. So if someone does come up with this, it better cost a few hundred million (or more) bucks to build a reactor and get it online."

See how stupid that sounds?

Is the Earth's economy endangered by an endless supply of free Oxygen?

How about the endless supply of free sunlight?

Re:Unlimited clean energy? (4, Insightful)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616463)

It would improve your quality of life.

Cheaper energy lowers how much people have to pay for electricity. This in turn gives people more money to spend on other things. So instead of having to pay $120 on your next electric bill you pay $60, meaning you use that extra $60 however you please. Like buying new clothes or going out to eat more often.

Free energy wouldn't necessarily be free to consumers, since they still have to pay for the upkeep of the system + labor costs, but I'd imagine a normal electric bill to be just a few dollars. But now you basically have an extra $115 in your pocket every month. And could you imagine the sales in electric cars? The market would explode because people would save tens of thousands of dollars by owning an electric vehicle. You need engineers and factory workers to build those.

Oh, and thanks to the unlimited virtually free energy, businesses have lower operating costs, meaning the price of items across the board would drop.

Next thing: Fixing the economy (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41615941)

Then we can worry about what kind of toys we want to play with.

There people are really, really stupid (4, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about a year and a half ago | (#41615971)

Breakthroughs cannot be planned. You can put a whole lot of smart people to work, give them everything they want, and maybe you will get lucky. But any attempt to plan and direct breakthroughs will only serve to prevent them. That was one of the lessons from the soviet economy. Don't people ever listen?

That's a false example. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41615991)

Research is directed all the time and we get more out of it than you suggest. It does not serve to prevent them. The Soviet economy failed for other reasons. This had nothing to do with it.

Lots of wonderful things come from allowing researchers a little freedom, but no direction whatsoever is hippie talk.

Re:There people are really, really stupid (4, Interesting)

fearofcarpet (654438) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616303)

Breakthroughs cannot be planned. You can put a whole lot of smart people to work, give them everything they want, and maybe you will get lucky. But any attempt to plan and direct breakthroughs will only serve to prevent them. That was one of the lessons from the soviet economy. Don't people ever listen?

I think the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Program worked pretty well. Ditto for the oodles of federal dollars targeted at semiconductor technology in the mid 20th Century. Anti-retro-viral drugs were most certainly the result of large amounts of targeted funding. There are entire foundations dedicated to funding research for a specific type of cancer and survival rates have gone up dramatically as a result. I'll grant you that you cannot predict where or when a major discovery will occur, but with finite resources, research must be directed. Research funding is, in every country, highly targeted because a breakthrough will never occur in a field in which no one is working.

Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616537)

There are methods to predict success in certain fields. Even without a breakthrough, a technology almost always yields benefits. The space program is one example. The technologies range from a ballpoint pen to higher tech.

Research takes tens of years to reach consumer and to have an economic impact. for example, hard disks, databases, and communication technologies (Internet) all took more than ten years to have the theory reach its potential. Cruise missiles have been actively developed and modified since 1950s.

With limited funds there is always a need to give preference to one project over another. One good example is health care and the Genome project. The benefits will need several more years to be solidified and tens of years to reach potential.

You just need some one or some group with a vision and a strong foot hold in science. There is no possibility for advancement while holding a Bible, a Quran or other religious doctrines.

The Next Big Thing is Obvious: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41615987)

Red Giant

Regenerative Medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41615989)

Stem cell research and the like is very promising and necessary. I believe our next world-transforming goal is to prolong life expectancy and reduce and/or eliminate aging by means of regeneration of all human tissue/bone etc.

New financial system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616007)

Recent unrest in the world is due to the unjust fact that today pepole born with money dont need to work and will only become richer by the virtue of having money.
The world can not detirate any more torwards a place where's someones job is to be rich and nothing else while thoe born into poverty have no way at all of climbing out of it.
I'm calling for rersearch into a system which would more closely link the benfit one brings to society and his financial situation and diminish the link between inherited assests and future financial success.

If it all possiable the system should achive this all while mainting incentives for parents to work for their childrens futrue and allow the greatest amount of personal freedom.

Free Market (2, Insightful)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616011)

So, Government takes my money under penalty of violence and then spends it asking "So, uh, what exactly should we do with all this money?"

Solutions are best found through variation and selection, processes that are quashed and stifled by central planning; the power structure should be decentralized and localized as much as possible, and that is precisely the point of the Free Market.

Re:Free Market (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616253)

Free markets find solutions to things that allow one to make boatloads of money. Sometimes the best solutions aren't "boatloads of money" solutions.

Re:Free Market (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616269)

So, Government takes my money under penalty of violence and then spends it asking "So, uh, what exactly should we do with all this money?"

Solutions are best found through variation and selection, processes that are quashed and stifled by central planning; the power structure should be decentralized and localized as much as possible, and that is precisely the point of the Free Market.

Yeah, 'cause everyone knows business are just lining up for an opportunity to spend their money on the kind of basic research the Federal government has funded for the past 60-70 years.

Re:Free Market (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616497)

Maybe it would have taken longer, say, to land on the moon under a Free Market; however, when the Free Market did get us to the moon, it would be for something a lot more purposeful than sticking a flag pole in the dust and hauling back some rocks that nobody really cared about—mostly for the purpose of glorifying the State, no less.

You are counting only the triumphs taught to you by Government officials, while ignoring the unrealized ventures and the massive amounts of waste and strife. Evolution, not revolution, is the key to progress in society with as little strife as possible.

Re:Free Market (5, Insightful)

fearofcarpet (654438) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616363)

Solutions are best found through variation and selection, processes that are quashed and stifled by central planning; the power structure should be decentralized and localized as much as possible, and that is precisely the point of the Free Market.

The Free Market has no idea how to conduct scientific research or to do anything that requires long-term planning; markets are excellent at efficiency and optimizations for short-term gains. Look at the pharmaceutical industry, which is constantly complaining that the early stages of drug-discovery are too costly and risky and that it should be the responsibility of universities to find promising targets because they don't work under the pressure of quarterly earnings reports and shareholder value.

That is, in fact, the basic model of technology transfer; academic labs (funded by centralized federal agencies!!!) do high-risk, fundamental research. When someone runs into a "hit," venture capitalists fund their start-up. Most fail, but the few that succeed bring us amazing innovations, and are usually absorbed by a larger company to whom you credit the discovery and jump up and down screaming "Free Market! Free Market!"

Do you know how science was done before the scary Government started pooling our collective resources and directing them towards research efforts? Only rich people were allowed to do science, they were self-funded, and they generally got into it as a means to become famous. Where would a middle-class guy like Einstein have wound up without government funding?

Re:Free Market (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616513)

Where would a middle-class guy like Einstein have wound up without government funding?

Probably buried in Germany, having lived a prosperous and peaceful life with the rest of his fellow Germans.

Re:Free Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616533)

You're no different from religious fundamentalists. You have a solution (The Free Market TM) and instead of applying it only to adequate problems you try to fit it into every aspect of life.
Private entities (obviously) do research, but you'll never see them investing a significant amount of money in some types of research because they would never see their money back. The government will do it anyway, because if it doesn't nobody will.

so ez (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616017)

driverless cars, uav/ugv swarms, quantum computers, genetic modifications of *, bio-hacks/synthetic biology , graphene graphene everywhere, etc...

How about patent reform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616021)

Want the next greatest thing? Reform the )(*@#(* patent system.

The big problem: It's DARPA (1, Interesting)

Casandro (751346) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616023)

And it's very hard to subvert that. Whatever kind of technology you give to them, it _will_ be used to kill people first, then maybe for other users.

Other ideas which would be beneficial to the world will probably be ignored. I mean the US is spending close to $700 Billion on "defence". If you'd simply divide that by 7 Billion (number of people), you can give everyone $100 a year, enough to afford them basic education. Or we could probably even settle on the moon and work on interstellar flight.

Re:The big problem: It's DARPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616079)

Like that damn internet. Nothing but an unstoppable killing machine from day 1.

Re:The big problem: It's DARPA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616267)

Yes, DARPA researched internet communication technology decades ago specifically so you could post youtube videos of your Cheetos stained cat today. It had nothing to do with wanting to maintain communications in the event we and the Soviets obliterated each other with nukes.

well sure (1)

swell (195815) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616029)

Why shouldn't we give our billion dollar ideas away?
And who is more deserving than our military establishment?

3D Printing and the End of Mass Manufacturing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616033)

Advances in 3D printing may mean the end of factories other than assembly lines, and even then we may see a generic, programmable assembly function via general purpose assembly robots. Creation of devices can then be stripped down to (a) materials extraction and (b) design. Home fabrication could replace the need for many items in retail stores, but will most likely instead replace stockrooms, since an all-purpose (i.e. any material) 3D printer is a *long* ways off.

In the intermediate time period, we'll probably see some stores replaced with small workshops. (We'd probably more of a web presence with fabs replacing warehouses than 3D printers replacing part of Wal-Marts.)

It will be one more step towards a world in which labor is made irrelevant in the face of ownership of capital or of ideas (for better or worse). I predict social turmoil as a result.

Re:3D Printing and the End of Mass Manufacturing (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616279)

This is a good one: general research in micro-scale materials extraction and processing is exactly what we need, since it's the big unanswered challenge to 3D printing: creating a group of machines which, working together on a small scale, can replicate all the processes needed to manufacture them.

You can really go long with this idea too: I for one have always wondered where the limits on small-scale semiconductor manufacture might lie. Namely: could sand and rock be used to ALSO create the logic circuits for such a thing (or maybe we'd do it some other way - inkjet printed assemblies of nanoparticles?)

DARPA is asking the public? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616059)

Isn't DARPA asking the public what the future holds really just them saying "Hey, can you guess what we invented 2 years ago?"

Fiber Optic Internet (2)

JediPhreaK (1309461) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616061)

We need to invest in increasing Internet transmission speeds. There are a lot of reasons high speed internet everywhere in the USA and then eventually abroad would be a great investment. For one it would create a lot of jobs to get such a system in place and build a Internet that will have future proof speeds for years to come.

Already people are watching more streaming media than ever before, youtube, netflix, the list goes on. There are numerous other benefits, such as various businesses able to work more quickly and in conjunction with one another. Sending data, like video from various surveillance cameras. Various Entertainment companies sending massive amounts of data such as movies that are being worked on between several companies back and forth to facilitate and streamline the editing process etc.

A lot more people would start to store their data in the "cloud" since a faster internet would enable them to stream their stored media etc in a central and mostly safe location. The demand for that service which has already started to become a big thing would become an amazing and competitive business, it would grow so much faster. Other companies could also deposit other things into your cloud storage, like say if you gave them family videos to convert etc. They could as soon as the process was done send you it in digital format if that's what you wanted.

There are also numerous other reasons such as Telemedicine, Distance Learning and so many other things. A better and faster internet is good for everyone businesses and private users. How many people who also don't have access to high speed internet would potentially buy services from these US businesses which would in turn make more jobs.

Re:Fiber Optic Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616127)

"high speed internet everywhere in the USA and then eventually abroad"

We are already doing this in Australia http://www.nbnco.com.au

Re:Fiber Optic Internet (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616287)

"high speed internet everywhere in the USA and then eventually abroad"

We are already doing this in Australia http://www.nbnco.com.au/ [nbnco.com.au]

And we have tons of people insisting that it's totally not necessary at all!

(which I find staggering in a country dominated by distance and sparse population, in a world where the largest growing sector is coming from internet business startups).

3d Printing (3, Funny)

zbobet2012 (1025836) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616089)

Dunderheads. We are on our way to being able to print anything we need. 3d printing will probably make traditional manufacturing a bygone technology in the next twenty years.

Re:3d Printing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616107)

3d printing will probably make traditional manufacturing a bygone technology in the next twenty years.

Not if the copyright maximalists that control our government--or at least those that do--have anything to say about it.

Re:3d Printing (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616301)

3d printing will probably make traditional manufacturing a bygone technology in the next twenty years.

Not if the copyright maximalists that control our government--or at least those that do--have anything to say about it.

Trying to enforce Fabrication Rights Management seems like it'll be even more of a comical failure - not to mention far more likely to raise the ire of the general public.

Re:3d Printing (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616353)

Trying to enforce Fabrication Rights Management seems like it'll be even more of a comical failure - not to mention far more likely to raise the ire of the general public.

Cubify [cubify.com] already has a DRM-crippled 3D printer. They have an "app store", from which you can download designs you can only print once.

Re:3d Printing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616185)

Yeah, all we really need is 3d printers capable of printing ICs, electronics, motors, steel parts, rubber parts, plastic partst of all kinds of plastic, wooden parts, ceramic parts, etc. Any day now.

Mark my words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616091)

The next great commodity is Truth in the post-truth era.

Ponder that. Take all the time you need. Please.

Hey, I've got a great idea! (5, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616105)

Oh wait, some NPE just sued me for patent violation. Never mind, guess I'll go develop it in some other country.

VR and AR (1)

ShadowC001 (611179) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616121)

Augmented reality and true virtual reality using mobile devices with some such wireless tech. Personally I was hoping for a holodeck.

i know rank 31 in math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616137)

GO FOR IT we know you yankies can do it...ready set count....

move on (1)

fonitrus (1763632) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616139)

we have done enough here. now its time to fk up Mars. irst we need to terraform it so we can ruin its atmosphere all over again.

US *Govt Looks For Input On "The Next Big Things" (1)

markz0r (1718746) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616145)

I am definitely not against gov't intervention in cases of market failure. I don't, in this case, understand how the heavy overhead of gov't intervention in this case is efficient. The Gov't is using tax payer money to review and possibly fund ideas from tax payers. It is the reallocation of resources based on the opinions of a small number of people who are not directly (financially) responsible for their decisions. Maybe they will hit home runs but I would content that the iterative process of the private sectors has a better track record (I probably should find something to support that...)

Re:US *Govt Looks For Input On "The Next Big Thing (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616323)

Very few businesses ever invest in fundamental research, and even fewer in trying to open up new fields of inquiry. This is sensible - it's standard business logic - stick to your core business.

The history of the modern world is that all the big ideas were funded by the government and spun off into tech companies once commercial viability had been proved, but this was not a quick process, and there's plenty of stuff which never is - that's the whole point of Linux and GNU to some extent: they're basic computer tools which are so fundamental that everyone benefits from them existing, but would be very difficult to justify creating if they had to be created by just the one company, or a group which needs to show immediate commercial viability.

What good are big ideas when.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616149)

What good are big ideas when funding for science gets cut year after year?

Think of ways to get rid of money.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616169)

Cause it is the root of all evil...

Re:Think of ways to get rid of money.. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616277)

Cause it is the root of all evil...

You can send it to me. I'm specially trained to handle it.

Artificial General Intelligence (1)

StefanWiesendanger (687733) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616181)

Those could help us solve all the other problems faster and better. Or well, at least be our new overlords...

The next big thing is freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616237)

The internet has made it far more difficult to sustain a lie, and without the ability to lie and make it stick, it's game over for the ruling class. They're trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle, but it's too late. Governments will be held accountable for their crimes.

Down the list (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616297)

1. Lack of safe drinking water. - a solar panel, 2 filters, a UV filter - can make water for 100's.
Beyond that you need to build it right.
2. Continuously monitors an individual's personal health-related data - big blood test at a clinic - chip system once problem area is found.
3. Generates off-grid water and energy for a small village derived from human and organic waste. NGOs have had this for years and years...
Small and large scale, gas, solar in a box, wind, led....
4. Autonomous underwater vehicle - NSA and US nuclear subs/mini subs have done that many times...
5. At risk foster children - read the stats on state abuse and care, spend cash on better care.
6. Invasive and brain sounds like infection and risks low moral - better to surround the head and fit a super computer near the "pilot".
7. Distances greater than 200 miles - sounds like an isolated fire base is running low on juice? Air to air can get close, if you have distances greater than 200 miles that are not yours, you have a mini Stalingrad and are losing ... energy is then a small issue.
The bad guys can usually work out where the juice is going too.. not the best idea.
8. Point-to-point passenger travel system - give cash to France and the UK - they did Concorde right vs the flying tourist bus and sr71...
9. Optical networks - if the US let basic blue sky optical research slip to need to ask that question - game over. Buy from South Korea, China, Brazil, South Africa, Ireland when they have a product to sell...
10. A mainstream platform for low-cost fabrication and packaging of systems on a chip for communications, sensing, medical, energy, and defense applications? You have the internet '2' - thats fast- communications, sensing, medical, energy, and defense applications your Universities can pump that out with funding any day of the week... US telco/medical 'brains' are one area that the US has covered many times over.
"low-cost fabrication" is the Soviet Union in the 1980's question - pay more+++++ for sealed local labs or let Australia, UK, Canada, NZ bid for trusted sealed labs - If your "defense applications" need "mainstream platform" something has gone wrong with your massive hardline mil optical/sat networks- too expensive? not looked after? too much data been collected? Only loser countries like Australia are poor and have to mix "mainstream platform" and "defense applications"...a very strange question for the USA to have to consider.
11. "high-bandwidth free-space communication, laser strike, and defense against missiles?" Just like the US did in the 1960's70's80's90's - spend lots of cash on sats, think big, send lots and lots up.. Get next gen "Cray, IBM, Honeywell" to place massive amounts of CPU power in Australia, UK, Canada, NZ as the raw data flows... use massive new optical/sat networks to send data back to the US in small sorted encrypted amounts ... spend big to rule the world... its not hard work - ask the NSA for ideas.
12. Cost parity across the nation's electric grid for solar power - the US lost its solar in early 1980's when solar was removed from the White House.
Any US public investment in that area will be in a lab in Germany, France, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, China in a month and been mass produced under old and new brands months later. If the US wants solar, offer real cash buy back from solar homes (FIT), stop states from over charging for site 'engineering'/'code' inspections adding $1000's onto costs. Buy in China and watch US suburbia be covered.
13. increased resolution in manufacturing? Give massive cash and tax breaks to Intel? Give massive contracts to Intel.

state in mind of the people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616309)

the mind control state.

peace. or more realistically, space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41616383)

seriously, let's start terraforming and colonizing the moon and Mars.

get rid of patents (1)

shentino (1139071) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616395)

Hey, genuises in office.

How about some patent reform to stop megacorps from locking innovators out of the market?

Patenst are supposed to make people go forward, not keep others back.

Re:get rid of patents (1)

runeghost (2509522) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616425)

lol. The 'genuises in office' are owned by the megacorps. We'll see patent reform only once the megacorps are dead and buried.

Ceres (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616459)

If Mankind has a greater future than for ever increasing populations to devolve into fighting over food and other resources, a better end than the dinosaurs, the only path goes through Ceres. Ceres is key to exploiting the solar system and is the gateway to the stars. It has vast resources of water in near zero g. There can be no higher goal for Human science than to forestall the end of Man. Before we lose the resources to do so we must exploit Ceres. If we fail in this our end is set. We need to convert a good fraction of that water ice to rocket fuel and bring it back and that takes energy. The US has until the Dawn mission's arrival at Ceres to prepare for the gold rush that will follow. Now would be a good time to prepare.

I know I know! (4, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | about a year and a half ago | (#41616527)

Something about alarm clocks that turn off when you tell them, but then 10 minutes later they won't turn off until you're in the shower.

Also, a card that has your computer desktop password linked to it and you take it from terminal to terminal I think.

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