Taking the stage one last time, President Barack Obama gave his final speech during the State of the Union Address. From climate change to the ongoing war against Daesh, he made it very clear that problems were still needing to be addressed. But he also gave us a sense of hope that was just on the horizon. Most notably, from space exploration to the moonshot ideas being pursued, science and technology were given a big shout-out by the Commander-in-Chief as well.
It was arguably one of the best State of the Union speeches to date. Both Democrats and Republicans alike stood in appraisal of the President’s speech (except for Paul Ryan, of course). It was one which not only mentioned the amazing scientific and technological adventures we’re currently embarking, but subsequently embraced them with open arms. Below is an excerpt from the State of the Union Address which we’ve highlighted, making note of President Obama’s shout-out to our technological era.
“Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and 12 years later, we were walking on the moon.
“That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. America is Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. America is Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. America is every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better future. That’s who we are. And over the past seven years, we’ve nurtured that spirit.
“We’ve protected an open Internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online. We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.
“But we can do so much more. Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they’ve had in over a decade. So tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. What do you say, Joe? Let’s make it happen.”
Only a couple of minutes into his speech, President Obama said, “for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to just talk about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, on the next ten years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future.” And that he did. He made note of the fact that, not only is change on the horizon, but “the pace of this change is only going to accelerate.” And he’s right. The exponential growth rate of scientific and technological change is clearer now more than ever. We are on the cusp of greatness, and we have front row seats to watch it all happen.
But we mustn’t let up just because great change is upon us. Nothing is inevitable. From space exploration to the genetic modification of the biological substrate, we find ourselves with a unique opportunity in history to be directly involved in the change ahead. While the State of the Union speech is mostly about the accomplishments of U.S., this journey we find ourselves in is an international one. We’re all in this together. Let this speech be one of many more to come that’ll not only highlight everything we’ve achieved thus far, but subsequently calls upon us to keep moving forward.