Anheuser-Busch Briefing Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H St NW, Washington, D.C.
Registration and Breakfast: 8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
The United States is the birthplace of great ideas. For more than two centuries, Americans have developed innovations and scientific breakthroughs that have grown into world-changing products and world-leading industries. Perhaps some of the most impressive achievements have taken place outside of the country, and indeed, the world. NASA was founded in 1958 – little more than a decade later, two Americans went for a walk on the moon. The speed with which the United States achieved this feat – which is still unrivaled four decades later – shows just how much America can do when it puts its collective heads and resources together. It also shows just how much the United States has not been doing of late.
The United States invented the space industry, but steadily over the last decade or more, the country has seen global competitors increase their capability to launch satellites and people into space, even as the United States has spun its wheels and gained little ground, stuck in the quicksand of bureaucracy and misaligned public and private interests. At the most recent Business Horizon Series program, “Free Enterprise and the Final Frontier,” a panel of investors who work in the space industry discussed what the United States needs to do to reclaim its role as a leader in space exploration and research.
Across the “final frontier” the stars have realigned when it comes to the private sector’s role in space. Long considered the domain of governments, the term “space commerce” is becoming a national and international reality.
Due to sovereign fiscal constraint as well as recognition of the private sector’s unique strengths and capabilities, space policy is focusing with increasing intensity on private enterprise. Legislation enacted in 2005 and 2010 significantly expanded the private sector’s role in all aspects of national space initiative – and with it the hope of greater entrepreneurship, innovation, discovery, and job creation. As a result, government is realigning to foster the private sector’s new role.
This transformation is taking place at a time that space is taking center stage in the technology-based global economy. Satellites and other space-based assets enable the delivery of modern communications, telemedicine, entertainment, navigation, and remote sensing. Space-based experimentation promises to produce transformational new insights in the physical, earth, and life sciences. Manufacturing in zero gravity will help spawn wondrous new products and capabilities; while space exploration, transportation, and tourism can revolutionize the human experience.
Cass Sunstein served as America’s “regulatory czar” as the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under the Obama Administration, and in his latest article for Bloomberg View he presents a strong case for cutting regulatory red tape across the globe.
Aligning regulatory regimes between major trading partners could translate into profound economic benefits. Here’s how Sunstein puts it:
“Over the last decade, American businesses have been emphasizing the need to increase international regulatory cooperation, thus harmonizing requirements and eliminating ‘non- tariff trade barriers’ (the technical term). At its best, such cooperation opens markets and promotes exports. As a result, it contributes to economic growth and job creation, and it can save consumers a lot of money.”
By promoting information sharing and cooperation, you also help protect consumers against risks. By simply opening the lines of communication, you also help counter the rise of trade protectionism veiled as consumer protection.
Using quantum physics, one University of Maryland graduate student was able to predict the winners and losers in last year’s “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournaments with surprising accuracy. Based on a phenomenon that scientists called superposition, this nerdy fan was able place a ytterbium ion in such a state that it had a 50-50 chance of flipping to one side or another. The result is truly random, and the accuracy of this student’s approach says a lot about the overall outcomes of tournaments like this. So, which team will come out on top according to this quantum physicist? The ions picked the University of Pittsburgh, a team that Nate Silver of The New York Times gave a 0.8% of winning it all. Whoever wins or loses in basketball, the point is that whatever division there has been between the hard sciences and the marketplace is falling faster and farther, and that is certainly something to celebrate.