One of the goals of President Obama's Strategy for American Innovation is to harness science and technology to address the "grand challenges" of the 21st century in areas such as health, clean energy, national security, and education and life-long learning. Grand challenges are important national goals like putting a man on the Moon or sequencing the human genome that require advances in science and technology to achieve. They also have the potential to drive sustainable economic growth and the creation of quality jobs.
Examples of specific goals that have been previously articulated by the President and others include early detection of dozens of diseases from a saliva sample, solar cells as cheap as paint, and educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and effective as a personal tutor.
In February 2010, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council released a "Request for Information" to collect input from the public regarding the grand challenges identified in the President's innovation strategy, other possible grand challenges, and the partners (e.g. companies, universities, non-profit organizations) that would need to collaboration to achieve these ambitious goals. The deadline for responses is Thursday, April 15th.
Harnessing the expertise of the American people is a key element of President Obama's open government agenda.
I'm delighted that Expert Labs, a project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has developed some great tools to help the government (and anyone else, for that matter) capture the ideas and insights of participants in social networks. For example, you can send your idea via twitter by replying to @whitehouse and including the #whgc hashtag (a tip: check out other ideas with this search).
You can also email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are really looking forward to reviewing your ideas, and to sharing the progress that we make in the weeks and months ahead to reach these ambitious goals.
Thomas Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy