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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
June 24, 2004

Richard Russell
Thank you for joining me on Ask the Whitehouse -- I look forward to answering your questions.

Tom, from TX writes:
What demos did the President see today?

Richard Russell
Thanks for your question. I'm going to "cut and paste" this one. The following is what was provided to the press:

The President will view demonstrations of broadband and wireless technologies and deliver remarks on innovation.

Dr. Craig Sable of Children's National Medical Center will demonstrate the center's pediatric tele-cardiography program. Simulating a patient in a rural hospital or clinic, Dr. Sable will diagnose a child at Children's hospital by remotely reviewing a patient's echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).

Using broadband, Dr. Sable can simultaneously monitor the patient's echocardiogram, direct the technician on site to operate the device and talk to the referring physician, patient and mother.

The technology enables accurate and instantaneous diagnosis, prevention of emergency transportation of healthy patients to Children's while ensuring that serious problems are identified and treated immediately.

Michael Gallagher, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information at the U.S. Department of Commerce, will demonstrate various wireless and broadband technologies: a video phone which uses the Internet or what is known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP); mobile wireless broadband technology on a laptop computer; special electrical plugs which allow consumers to receive broadband transmitted through power lines, from any outlet in their home; and household monitoring cameras and sensors that can use broadband to remotely alert homeowners to problems ranging from burglars to water in their basement.

Raul Fernandez, Chairman and CEO of ObjectVideo, will provide a demonstration of VEW, a video surveillance software product. ObjectVideo personnel will stage a mock attack on a power generator located behind ObjectVideo's offices in Reston, VA.

The demonstration will show the power of this intelligent video surveillance technology, which can distinguish humans, vehicles and objects left behind, together with the ability of broadband to relay information from a remote site to a central command location, in this case the room in which the demonstration takes place.

Because of the speed of broadband, and the ability of the software to provide only information that is necessary to assess the threat potential, the security professional is provided the ability to take action against the threat in real time.

Nancy Sturm with the Center for Educational Technologies will demonstrate how distance learning programs are allowing rural students access to improved educational opportunities.

Students at Southern Columbia High School in Catawissa, a town of 1700 people in northern Pennsylvania, will be connected to a simulated NASA center at Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia to participate in a simulated space mission during which time they will conduct scientific experiments and solve mathematical problems in real time.

The simulated mission uses broadband Internet connection to create a live link between the students and the simulated mission. The school is part of a partnership of 280 rural schools that leveraged an initial USDA grant for $500,000 from USDA's Distance Learning and Telemedicine program with $12.5 million in state and federal monies.

MaryElizabeth, from Denver writes:
I don't get it. Why are we going to Mars?

Richard Russell
The President's space vision is not about going to Mars. It is about enabling space exploration that can benefit all. The first step is a return to the Moon to undertake activities to enable sustained human and robotic exploration of Mars and more distant destinations. Mars is the next logical step after the Moon for human exploration.

The President's vision for space exploration is that of "a journey, not a race," a concept that differs profoundly from the Apollo paradigm of a single massive project requiring a large budget spike and a demanding schedule.

The new vision calls for an affordable and long term, sustainable, effort to achieve access to space, and in the President’s words: “…extend the human presence across our solar system, making steady progress one mission, one voyage, one landing at a time."

jack, from rhode island writes:
Why did the President cut science spending. How can he be for innovation and against science?

Richard Russell
This is not true. Since the President has been in office, funding for R&D has increased 44%. Funding for basic research has increased 26%. Funding for nanotechnology has doubled. R&D funding has been a priority for this administration, and will continue to be so in the future.

David, from Oakland writes:
There seems to be a lot of hype around nanotechnology and nanotechnology research. Does the administration support this? Is it really important science?

Richard Russell
Nanotechnology is simply science working at the molecular and atomic level, and has the potential to revolutionize materials, electronics, medical technology, and energy and environmental technologies. It has been a funding priority of this administration.

Numerous products resulting from nanotechnology advances are already on the market. Everything from tennis rackets that incorporate carbon nanotubes to self-cleaning windows that use nanocoatings.

The Administration is working not only on new nano-based technological advances, but also on the implications of nanotechnology on human health and the environment to ensure that the technology is developed responsibly.

Ed, from Washington, D.C. writes:
How has SpaceShipOne's plight influenced government funding of NASA missions?

Richard Russell
Burt Rutan and his team had an incredible achievement. This achievement is completely consistent with the President's vision. The President has emphasized in his vision the role of the commercial sector, and private sector innovation.

This also emphasizes the power of a prize. The Administration recognizes this, and has requested $20 million in the Fiscal Year 2005 NASA budget in prize money to spur nontraditional ideas and innovative thinking.

Peter, from Lansing, MI writes:
What exactly does the president have in mind for technology innovationin for the next four years?

Richard Russell
As the President discussed today, he believes innovation is critical to the Nation's future prosperity. In his speech, he touched on three specific areas.

Energy, and his plans to enable pollution-free hydrogen-powered vehicles to become a commercial reality; health care information technology, to provide more cost-effective and higher-quality health care for the American people; and broadband.

In addition to the policies he outlined today, the President has also committed to funding research and development. The President has made an historic commitment to research and development funding. He has requested $132 billion in research and development funding for Fiscal Year 2005.

This total represents more than the rest of the G8 countries combined. Included in this total is funding for priority areas like nanotechnology and information technology.

Cynthia, from Fairfax, VA writes:
I know that the President would like to see Broadband deployed fully across the United States and made available to everyone who would like to have it. Is the President aware of and supportive of the emerging technology, Broadband over Power Lines (BPL)?

Richard Russell
Personally, I am energized about Broadband over Power Lines. Today, the President spoke about the potential for BPL. The Department of Commerce has made over 10 million measurements that will help address interference issues associated with BPL. By addressing these issues, we hope that Broadband over Power lines can be rolled out responsibly and create another broadband channel into the home.

Shirlee, from USA writes:
Now that broadband is available in many homes across the U.S. - what do you see as the next step? What is the future of broadband?

Richard Russell
Broadband enables new technologies such as voice over internet protocol (VOIP), which will allow you to make phone calls over your broadband connection. It also makes it easier to work from home, share pictures and large files. As more broadband rolls out and we see new applications, many applications like distance learning and telemedicine, including remote diagnostics, will be available to home consumers.

Mike, from Mt. Hood writes:
Why is it that we are not leading the world in broadband? Shouldn't we be ahead?

Richard Russell
On a per-capita basis, the United States is currently 10th in the world. Broadband has been rolling out very quickly in the United States. Between the end of 2000 and the end of 2003, broadband subscriber lines have increased from 7 million to 28 million.

However, as the president has stated, the US shouldn't be 10th in anything, and he is committed to making broadband universally available throughout the US by 2007.

Richard Russell
Thank you all. I enjoyed having a chance to chat with you today. I hope to be able to chat with you again in the future.

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