While we all know about the US government’s big investments in agriculture research, their role as a big data and analytics provider is less well appreciated. Seeing the phrase ‘big data and analytics’ we think of machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other popu;ar 21st century concepts, but the US government has been providing important data and analytics to researchers, farmers and their advisors, and ag tech companies for over a century.
In the midst of a trend to credit the federal government with all of the great things that have been invented or built since WW II, it is important that we study the history and the lessons it has to offer. The WSJ has a useful op-ed about the start of the Internet that untangles some of innovation myths of the oft-cited endeavor. Government Successes in Innovation I give the US government massive credit for their role in fundamental research.
We have compelling reasons to drive for clean, cheap energy, but we lack the technology to get there today. Threats of climate change, national competitiveness and energy security (OK, “clean, cheap, domestic energy”) all contribute to the urgency of this innovation challenge. Given the scale of the challenge, coupled with the dire consequences of not succeeding, it is only natural that we’d look for reassurance and guidance from historical success stories of large-scale innovation.