Technology can and should play a greater role in addressing key challenges that the world faces in the 21st century. For example, in the United States, only 20 percent of low-income students are proficient in 8th grade mathematics, 36 million adults are reading at the third grade level or below, and many non-college educated workers are experiencing stagnant or declining real wages. We need to invest more in research, talent development, market-shaping initiatives, multidisciplinary collaboration, and evaluation to increase society’s capacity to solve these and other problem.
Schmidt Futures’ work in particular aims to increase the access, quality, and speed of discovery and invention; demonstrate the positive role that technology can play in solving some of our toughest societal challenges; and raise our level of collective ambition.
Promote the digital transformation of society
Although artificial intelligence and data science are transforming many sectors of our economy, these tools are having much less impact on our ability to achieve key societal goals such as improving K-12 education or reskilling America’s workforce. Schmidt Futures will support efforts by university researchers, non-profits and startups to develop, demonstrate and evaluate applications of digital technologies with significant potential to address a concrete social problem.
Build coalitions to achieve ambitious goals
Currently, only a handful of institutions are involved in the identification and pursuit of extraordinarily ambitious goals, such as eradicating polio, mapping the brain, and making humanity a multi-planetary species. Schmidt Futures will promote a “moonshot culture” – a world in which the leaders of foundations, businesses, universities, government agencies, and non-profits embrace the grand challenges of the 21st century.
Invest early-stage risk capital in high-potential people and ideas
Technology will change and improve our society in ways that are both clear and unclear. We must be willing to take risks and invest in new thinkers that challenge existing norms. Schmidt Futures will do just that, supporting nascent work at academic institutions, innovative young organizations, and high-potential people.
Advance public policy that sustains science and technology
Schmidt Futures will advance science and technology policies that strengthen America’s research enterprise, foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and harness S&T to tackle our most important problems.
Laboratory for Innovation Science