America’s economy will focus on industries such as technology, clean energy and science education, US President Barack Obama said, describing it as their generation’s “Sputnik moment.”
During the State of the Union speech, an annual televised address to the United States Congress, Obama was positive on the direction technology was taking the US.
“In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business,” he said.
He called for the expansion of wireless internet, wishing for it to cover 98pc of the US population within five years.
He noted this wasn’t just to improve internet speeds, but allowing for a much-improved infrastructure. Obama gave an example of a firefighter downloading the design of a burning building onto a handheld device or a student taking classes with a digital textbook.
He also included Google and Facebook as big examples of American innovation, highlighting how the internet has changed modern lives in recent years.
“Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do — what America does better than anyone — is spark the creativity and imagination of our people,” he said.
“We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices, the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers, of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living,” said Obama.
Research, education and clean energy
The US President noted that countries such as China and India were investing in areas such as research and new technologies, which helped them become massive global players. He acknowledged that China owned the world’s largest private solar research facility and the world’s fastest computer.
As a result, Obama said they will invest in biomedical research, IT and clean energy in order to promote job creation and to reduce carbon emissions. He said the US would have 1m electric cars on its roads by 2015.
Obama focused strongly on education during the speech, calling for improved education standards.
“Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school diploma,” he said.
“And yet as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school.”
Obama warned there would be sharp cuts in other areas so these investments could be made.