Institute for Progress (IFP) — October 2023 Update
A brief announcement: If you’re interested in applying economic policy research to encourage scientific progress, innovation, and economic growth, please consider applying for this Economics Research Specialist role, working closely with our Director of Science Policy Heidi Williams.
Here’s what else we’ve been tackling this month:
✍️ Written Work
We’re partnering with Employ America on a new series laying out how policy can shape the future of geothermal energy, called “Hot Rocks: Commercializing Next-Generation Geothermal Energy.”
Senior Infrastructure Fellow Brian Potter wrote the first installment of Hot Rocks for Construction Physics, on the technological innovations that produced the shale revolution and the lessons that history holds for geothermal.
“It’s difficult to predict the trajectory of technology, and what some capability will ultimately be used for. Over and over again, we see technology spillovers, where technology developed in one industry for some particular purpose ends up spreading to other industries, often to solve very different problems. Oil and gas drilling technology repurposed to create geothermal power systems is of course one example, but there are many others.”
Co-founder Alec Stapp and Biosecurity Fellow Arielle D’Souza presented a roadmap for mitigating risks from dual-use research.
“Recent advances in life science research, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence tools could have enormous medical and public health benefits, but these advancements also increase risks of misuse.”
Jeremy also highlighted key immigration-related features of a new executive order on AI:
🏗️ Construction Physics, by Senior Infrastructure Fellow Brian Potter
🏛️ Statecraft, by Senior Editor Santi Ruiz
🎤 Interviews & Events
Co-founder Caleb Watney testified before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, in a hearing titled “Balancing Knowledge and Governance: Foundations for Effective Risk Management of AI.”
“Ultimately, it will be up to the public sector to shape the direction of cutting-edge AI development in accordance with the public interest. The full might of the American R&D engine has been a powerful force for aligning these interests in the past, and it can be now.”
Senior Editor Santi Ruiz joined The Dynamist podcast to discuss how policy entrepreneurship can succeed in government bureaucracies.
American Bazaar quoted Jeremy on the “big proposed overhaul of the H-1B program.”
“The changes he was “most excited about” included expanded H-1B cap exemptions that would make it easier for research organizations to qualify for cap-exempt H-1Bs. This would be especially helpful for new regional innovation hubs. ‘Automatic cap-gap extensions will make it easier for international students to stay here after they graduate,’ he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. The new rule would also make it easier for immigrant founders to stay here on H-1Bs to grow their companies, Neufeld wrote.”
NPR Marketplace quoted Jeremy on the same topic.
“If you know of a scientist or doctor or engineer who emigrated to the United States, chances are pretty good that they came through the H-1B program,” said Jeremy Neufeld at the nonprofit Institute for Progress. But, he said, the visas are hard to get, especially to work at a for-profit company.”
And Bloomberg Law got in on the action as well:
“Jeremy Neufeld, a senior immigration fellow at the Institute for Progress, said the H-1B program’s structure makes competition with US workers more likely. That’s because employers have little incentive to pay more to an H-1B worker than the prevailing wage for an occupation in their geographic area, he said. ‘As long as you meet that minimum eligibility requirement, then your application is just as likely to get a visa as any other application,’ Neufeld said. ‘Paying a worker more doesn’t actually increase your chances of getting a visa.’ As a result, he said, companies have an incentive to file as many petitions for H-1B visas as possible for minimally qualified workers rather than prioritize the most highly qualified candidates.”
The Daily Caller referenced a report by Fellow Adin Richards, calling for Congress to fully fund AgARDA.
“The 2018 Farm Bill designated $50 million annually for the AgARDA program with the goal of spurring innovation and developing breakthrough technology. For the next three years, Congress did not appropriate funds for AgARDA and only directed $1 million to the program in fiscal year (FY) 2022, according to a report from the Institute for Progress.”
Dan Lips, head of policy at the Foundation for American Innovation, flagged IFP’s partnership with the NSF as a potential roadmap for reforming the American education R&D system.
“The National Science Foundation announced a new partnership with the Institute for Progress aiming to improve how the agency supports research and innovation. The agreement highlights the opportunity for government R&D agencies to review their processes for awarding grants to increase their return on investment, offering another glimmer of hope that improvements may be coming to the federal R&D enterprise.”