U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra Visits Silicon Valley To Talk Tech And Innovation With The Woz

Today, Aneesh Chopra, US Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director for Technology for the White House, spoke at a forum held by TiE, an entrepreneurship organization based in Silicon Valley. Chopra was joined by a panel of Silicon Valley execs and VCs, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Chopra made his debut to Silicon Valley a few weeks ago at the Churchill Club, addressing the future of innovation and Federal investments in technology.

Chopra outlined the Federal government’s technology agenda, calling attention to the challenges the government faces. He says that in terms of innovation, the U.S. has a lot of room for improvement. The government recently did a survey of where countries rank as innovators over the past decade. The U.S. ranked dead last in the rate at which innovation sped up over the past ten years, according to Chopra’s data. In the area of e-government options, the U.S. ranked last as well.

The role of the US CTO is to invest in innovation, including smart and secure infrastructure (i.e. cybersecurity, broadband access), and increase R&D collaboration by focusing on university and entrepreneurship for new product developments. The Federal government spends $150 billion on research dollars in universities—Chopra wants to make sure these investments are efficient. Chopra says that post-doctoral fellows are particularly useful to helping with innovation and suggests that businesses begin fellowship opportunities for innovation. He is also promoting innovation around other priorities in the government’s agenda, such as health care, education and the smart grid.

Heath care IT is an issue that’ particularly high on the agenda, with Chopra working to implement regulatory framework, open data standards, and an ecosystem for continued product innovation in the space. The smart grid is also a concern for the US CTO, and is helping accelerate energy efficiency initiatives and ensure that cybersecurity is at a high level.

And one of Chopra’s primary roles is to develop an open government initiative, which will implement government platforms that will be transparent and collaborative (i.e. Data.gov). For example, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service launched a new customer service that lets applicants get updates on the status of applications online and via e-mail and text messages.

Steve Wozniak thinks that its important to harvest intelligence; he suggests that the government should do this via games. The Woz also highlighted the importance of cyber security and technology in education, concluding that “education is being shafted.”