The American Association for the Advancement of Science has sent a letter to Senators Obama and McCain, urging whoever becomes the next President to appoint a cabinet level science adviser, and to do so by Inauguration Day. The AAAS hopes that the next President will “…seek out and rely upon sound scientific and technological advice I and often in the next administration.” It’s a stance on good science that has been profoundly lacking over the past eight years, with topics like stem cell research and climate change treated as political fodder rather than valid scientific issues.

With McCain choosing a woman who thinks genetic testing on fruit flies is some sort of cockamamie scheme put together by the French and may not believe in dinosaurs, it’s no surprise that the GOP candidate has been fairly quiet on the role good science would play in shaping the policies of a McCain administration. But how would this position mesh with the Chief Technology Officer position that Obama would create in his cabinet?

Poorly.

The CTO cabinet position would be primarily an economic advisory one, concerned mainly with job creation via the expansion of broadband Internet throughout the nation, a much less holistic position than the one being urged by the AAAS. Though one of the top presumptive candidates for the position, Princeton computer science and public affairs professor Ed Felten (who has not officially been approached) assumes that the position would also act as a “cybersecurity czar” of sorts. But with it’s main focus being entrepreneurial and it’s technological aspects leaning heavily towards communications, the CTO isn’t exactly what the AAAS had in mind. It remains to be seen if an Obama administration would be open to the addition of another new cabinet post concerned with biotech, burgeoning green energy technologies and the rest of the science world that’s easily as important to both policy and economic development in the U.S., and how these advisers would interact with the heads of current bodies like the FCC and FDA.

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