Grand Challenges of Today
The Grand Challenges are felt by every nation, as they are the most pressing global issues that need to be addressed by policy makers, thinkers, stakeholders and citizens. The issue of the global grand challenges transcends the public and private sector. The White House site adds to this by saying that “In addition to Federal investments, there are a growing number of companies, foundations, philanthropists, and research universities that are interested in pursuing Grand Challenges.” Highlighting some of the work done by The Gates Foundation, Google and IBM among others.
Futhermore, USAID highlights two points when looking at the grand challenges saying that:
“1) Science and technology, when applied appropriately, can have transformational effects; and
2) Engaging the world in the quest for solutions is critical to instigating breakthrough progress.”
Organizations and governments are planning for future technologies, but the grand challenges priorities vary country to country. In some nations the grand challenges may be more simple of complex than in others.
Lewis Branscomb is critical of just focusing on technological and scientific advances. He asked the question “But is this policy focus on science sufficient to the tasks at hand?” The tasks at hand being large society challenges that need to be solved.
Branscomb continues to point out that, historically, the United States government “would support academic science, engineering, and medical research, leaving the management and finance for transforming scientific discoveries into economic value to the incentives of private financial markets. By this route, the United States has built the most powerful science knowledge engine in the world.”
Looking at the past as Branscomb just did, allows one to see trends that may be repeated.
I agree with Branscomb’s points that the current science may not be enough to catch up to a rapidly changing society with many problems to be addressed.