The dangers of reducing federal funding - MIT report highlights impact on cybersecurity and more

The dangers of reducing federal funding - MIT report highlights impact on cybersecurity and more
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Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet. Chinese researchers, meanwhile, developed the world’s fastest supercomputer, and uncovered new ways to meet global food demand.

But as these competitors increase their investment in basic research, the percentage of the U.S. federal budget devoted to research and development has fallen from around 10 percent in 1968 to less than 4 percent in 2015.

Today MIT released a report in which faculty and other researchers detail specific impacts, within their fields, of this declining federal investment in basic research.

The report — “The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit” — was prepared by a committee of MIT researchers and research administrators. Examining how funding cutbacks will affect the future of scientific studies in the U.S., the report highlights opportunities in basic research that could help shape and maintain U.S. economic power, and benefit society.

CSAIL principal investigator Ron Weiss argued that synthetic biology research could lead to customized treatments for genetic diseases, engineered viruses that can identify and kill cancer cells, or climate-friendly fuels — but a lack of investment in laboratory facilities is leading to a migration of top talent and research leadership overseas.

Meanwhile, CSAIL's Howard Shrobe explained that the rising number of cyberattacks are not only a nuisance, but also pose a threat to national security. Shrobe notes that investment is needed to support the redesign of computer systems to eliminate major security weakness in areas such as computer architecture and access authorization.

Read more at MIT News: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/mit-report-benefits-investment-basic-research-0427