GOBAMA Optimism

Obama gives good speech... mostly because we need optimism more than anything else these days.

Here is a Wired view: President Barack Obama made technology innovation a centerpiece of his economic agenda during an address to Congress that was heavy on lofty goals but short on specifics.

His speech compared Google and Facebook to Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers, and Obama declared that “the first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.”

In an eyebrow-raising rhetorical flourish, Obama said that America had reached its “Sputnik moment,” referring to the Soviet satellite whose 1957 launch embarrassed the United States and eventually spurred President John F. Kennedy to vow to beat the Soviets to the moon, a race the United States won.

“Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the space race,” Obama said. “We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology and especially clean-energy technology, an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet and create countless new jobs for our people.”

In order to pay for his ambitious innovation agenda, Obama said he would ask Congress to cut billions of dollars in oil-company subsidies.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own,” Obama remarked to laughter. “So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

Energy was a key component of the speech, and Obama laid out a far-reaching 25-year plan that he said will “give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail.”

He also said that within the next five years “we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans.”

“This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls,” Obama said. “It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”

At one point, Obama seemed to scold Congress for letting China and India make such competitive gains against the United States in technology innovation.

“Just recently,” the president observed, “China became home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.”

An optimistic kick in the pants... Like that Rolling Stone cover