Remarks: Presidential Advisory Committee for High-Performance Computing

Remarks of
The Honorable John H. Gibbons
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology

to the

Presidential Advisory Committee for
High-Performance Computing and Communications,
Information Technology, and the
Next Generation Internet

Washington, DC
Thursday, February 27, 1997

On behalf of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, I want to thank all of you for the effort you have made to help us in one of this century's great endeavors. The Vice President will have the opportunity to thank you personally when he meets with you tomorrow.

The technology of information lies at the core of many of our hopes for America's future -- in industry and commerce, in education, in medicine, in the way we talk with each other, in the way we organize knowledge. The President made his interest clear in the emphasis he put on science and technology -- and information technology in particular -- in the first state of the union address of his second term. He said:

"To prepare America for the 21st Century we must harness the powerful forces of science and technology to benefit all Americans. This is the first State of the Union carried live in video over the Internet. But we've only begun to spread the benefits of a technology revolution that should become the modern birthright of every citizen."

We must build the second generation of the Internet so that our leading universities and national laboratories can communicate in speeds orders of magnitude faster than today, to develop new medical treatments, improved sources of energy, new ways to make things and new ways of working together.

But we cannot stop there. As the Internet becomes our new town square, a computer in every home -- a teacher of all subjects, a connection to all cultures -- this will no longer be a dream, but a necessity. And over the next decade, that should be our goal.

Several things seem clear as we consider how this new revolution must be built.

First, while the rate of innovation in computers and communication has been astonishing over the short two and a half decades that we've worked with microprocessors, it is clear that we are only at the start of the tidal wave of invention that will characterize our pace into the next century. We are only beginning to learn how to use the powerful tools already available through powerful computers and gigabit networks -- and the technology keeps improving.

Second, it is obvious that most of the invention and investment that will drive this revolution will come from the private sector. The government's primary role is to support research that is our common heritage and to ensure that markets operate efficiently, and fairly, so that private innovation can prosper. We are proud of our track record in creating an efficient market for information technology through thoughtful, technology-sensitive telecommunication regulation, protection of intellectual property, and other means.

Third, it's also obvious that there are areas where the government itself can help stimulate investment through building partnerships between businesses and universities and providing funds for key activities with high societal rates of return that individual investors could not justify doing on their own. We can be proud of the success of ARPA-net, NSF-net and the achievements of teraflop computing and gigabit networks that resulted from the High Performance Computing and Communication initiative the Vice President helped to launch while in the Senate.

But we know that times are changing and our programs must change with them. Industry has changed, international competition has changed, and technology has changed. We have reshaped our own programs as a result. Having achieved the original technical goals of the HPCC program, we have reshaped the program around new goals -- goals that will be addressed in this morning's briefings. We have turned our attention to a new generation of the Internet and also to research directed to understanding the performance of complex systems and the way complex information can be harnessed to help the real needs of people -- information in usable form; information when it is needed and where it is needed.

These are tasks of extraordinary complexity. They need to be approached with research efforts tailored to contemporary and emerging needs. The government recognizes its responsibility to help, but also recognizes its limits. And the drive to achieve a balanced budget by the year 2000 gives us a particularly acute recognition of these limits. The fact that the President has asked for a $100 million increase in FY 1998 funding for the Next Generation Internet in these extraordinary tough budget times underscores the importance we attach to these timely opportunities.

We very much need your help in setting priorities and helping us craft programs that most effectively attack them. We need your guidance to design programs that serve both public needs and the needs of the companies that we must rely on to transform ideas into products, income, and jobs.

Clearly, there are many issues that will shape markets for new information technology and we'd like to tap your wisdom on all of them. But the unique task of this group, and the task that guided our selection of the many talented people who have agreed to serve, is to devise effective research and development programs that can be carried out by the agencies participating in this discussion today. There are many forums for discussing issues related to specific regulatory, trade, security, and legal issues of information. But this group is unique in having the ability to guide the research programs that will not only define information technology for the 21st century -- technology that will continue to redefine our society, including the legal and regulatory problems that we face, in profound ways. Design of an efficient and coordinated research program in this area -- coordinated across government and in partnership with the private sector -- is one of the most important challenges facing government today. If we succeed we will have given the next generation tools of enormous power. It's essential that we find effective ways for businesses, universities, and government agencies to work together inventing and testing a faster Internet with higher quality of service. We face a daunting set of challenges as we reach beyond teraflop computers to machines perhaps a thousand times faster. And we are only beginning to understand how to apply these tools to modern applications in medicine, education, complex environmental systems research such as global climate, manufacturing, and other fields. Many of these applications will require new software strategies, new ways of approaching interoperability, new ways to design and test reliable complex systems that are secure against accidents and intentional attacks, new ways to represent knowledge -- not just information.

We appreciate the effort you have made to be with us today and we all look forward to working with you on these fascinating and important issues in the years to come.

1997 Remarks

Remarks: Stresses on Research and Education

Remarks: Presidential Advisory Committee for High-Performance Computing

Remarks: Technology Partnering

Remarks: Council on Competitiveness

FY98 R&D Budget Review

Statement to Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs, HUD, and Independent Agencies

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