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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Richard Russell
Senior Director for Technology
February 9, 2004

Richard Russell
Hello. It's a pleasure to have this opportunity to speak with you all. I look forward to your questions. Let's get started.

Davis, from Arlington, Virginia writes:
With the high-tech community so critical to job creation and broadband deployment and technologies so critical to the growth of high-tech, industry would like to see more goal-setting and proactivity by the Executive Branch on these issues (not the FCC, which is an independent regulatory agency). Broadband and it's many applications will also help Americans improve the quality of their lives and bring rural America into the mainstream. In addition, the U.S. has fallen out of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of penetration rates for broadband.

There was some disappointment in the high-tech business community again this year that the President did not address or even refer to any broadband-related goals in his State of the Union address. Can we expect the President to set some broad-based national "goals" in the near future and make this critical fledgling technology a national priority? Please be very specific in your answer if possible.

Richard Russell
Thank you for your question about the importance of broadband technology. While I cannot speculate on what the President may or may not wish to say in the future, I can tell you what the Administration has done to promote broadband deployment. The President has signed into law a two-year extension on the moratorium on internet access taxes and has urged Congress to make the moratorium permanent. The President's tax relief has also given businesses important incentives to invest in broadband technology. The Administration has also made radio spectrum available for wireless broadband technology and supports making permanent the research and experimentation tax credit. You'll also be interested to learn that the President has spoken forcefully on this issue at his economic forum in Waco, TX. The text is available on the website.

Andy, from Washington, DC writes:
What three technologies do you believe hold the most promise over the next Ten years??

Richard Russell
Let me give you four: Nanotechnology, Hydrogen technology, biotechnology, and information technology. These four fields have been a priority for the Administration, and we expect them to yield great economic and societal benefits in the future.

Jonathan, from New York writes:
What has been your main goal over the last four years working with President Bush?

Richard Russell
To harness technological innovation, to improve our economy, to protect the homeland, and to enhance national security.

Craig, from Kaneohe writes:
Do you think that we should pursue a more environment friendly energy source?

Richard Russell
Thank you for your question. The Administration has been pursuing environmentally friendly energy technologies, including the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, which promises to help speed the commercial availability of clean-burning hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the future. The President has also announced the US Government's intention to join ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which is the next step on the path to making fusion power feasible. In addition, the Administration has committed to creating clean energy from our most abundant, US-based fuel supply (coal), through the creation of the first zero-emission, coal-fired power plant.

Albert, from UK writes:
Hello Mr. Russell, I would like to know when you think it will be routine for people to have truely general purpose robots in their homes, and how much you think they might cost.

Richard Russell
Great question. In fact, in this month's Technology Review, Rodney Brooks wrote an article "The Robots are Here", which addresses this very question. He argues that robots are already starting to enter home use with robotic vacuum cleaners and grass cutters. He suggests that robots today are where computers were in 1978 -- just about ready to take off and become a fixture in the average household. At this point, it is too early to speculate on the cost of a home robot, but having grown up on "the Jetsons", I am hopeful that they will be cheap and readily available soon.

Benjamin, from Ithaca, WI writes:
Will the space vision that the President set forth recently create more jobs in the technology sector? Thank you.

Richard Russell
Yes. The President's vision outlines a path for the future of human and robotic exploration of space. Each step along the way will require new capabilities and new technologies. As part of the vision, NASA will pursue investments in robotics, fault tolerance systems, advanced power systems, improved life support, and nanotechnology. Each of these investments will serve to enable the vision, to make life better here on the earth, and to strengthen the economy.

Ray, from Tampa, Florida writes:
What major technology developments do you expect to happen in the next few years?

Richard Russell
It's always difficult to predict the future. But one thing is certain, that there will be tremendous technological advances as a result of research and development conducted in the US. That is why the President has strongly supported R&D funding in the federal budget, and has championed making the research and experimentation tax credit permanent. This year the President proposed spending $132 billion for research and development across the federal government. If Congress enacts this total, the President will have presided over a 44% increase in R&D funding since he took office. Over the past four years, the President has prioritized funding for research in breakthrough areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, hydrogen technology, and information technology.

Richard Russell
Thank you all for participating. I enjoyed taking your questions. I hope to have the chance to do this again in the future. If you're interested in following what is happening in science and technology in teh Administration, you can visit our websites at and

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