President Joe Biden announced Wednesday the members of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) tasked with advising him "on policy matters where the understanding of science, technology, and innovation is key."
Some of PCAST's members will be more familiar to enthusiasts than others. AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su is the most prominent example, but Nvidia chief scientist Dr. William Dally, Microsoft chief scientific officer Dr. Eric Horvitz, and Google Cloud chief information security officer Phil Venables have also joined the council.
The Executive Order establishing PCAST said it will also advise "on matters involving scientific and technological information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics."
Honored to be named to the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to work with an amazing group of people on important issues impacting our nation. https://t.co/6qZEIRcVuBSeptember 22, 2021
PCAST is led by three co-chairs: California Institute of Technology's Dr. Frances Arnold, MIT's Dr. Maria Zuber, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy director Dr. Eric Lander. The council's other 27 members hail from universities, companies, and other organizations related to science and technology.
There is no direct compensation for participating in PCAST; the White House noted that its members "are Presidential appointees" who are "reimbursed only for travel, meals, and accommodations in accordance with government regulations." The possibility of influencing policy could be valuable, though, especially for tech execs.
Along with the revelation of PCAST's co-chairs and members, the White House also revealed "the President's key science questions," which it separated into five items:
- What can we learn from the pandemic about what is possible—or what ought to be possible— to address the widest range of needs related to our public health?
- How can breakthroughs in science and technology create powerful new solutions to address climate change—propelling market-driven change, jump-starting economic growth, improving health, and growing jobs, especially in communities that have been left behind?
- How can the United States ensure that it is the world leader in the technologies and industries of the future that will be critical to our economic prosperity and national security, especially in competition with China?
- How can we guarantee that the fruits of science and technology are fully shared across America and among all Americans?
- How can we ensure the long-term health of science and technology in our nation?
Those issues reflect the challenges Biden has faced during his presidential term: a global pandemic, an ongoing chip shortage that's affected practically every industry on the planet, and continued tensions with China are just some of the issues he's faced in the first year of his presidency. (Not to mention cryptocurrency regulations.)