If you’re looking for part two of my network library series, it’s coming very soon (my next post). However, I wanted to take some time out to talk about something which I care about a lot.
I am sure that many of you watched the recent State of the Union Address given by US President Barack Obama. In it, he spoke a lot about making the US education system better and investing in science and technology. The UK government has also made similar calls that investment in science and technology is what will pull Britain’s economy out of crisis and build its competitiveness for the future. To me, a big area of potential growth is the games industry.
Before the 2010 general election in the UK, the government announced in the budget that they would be offering tax breaks to the video games industry, something supported by all three major parties. After the election and the formation of the coalition government, they backtracked on this saying the cuts were “poorly targeted” despite offering cuts to the British Film and Music industry which is worth far less to the economy. It was then that I realised the UK government has no interest in the games industry and I packed up my bags and headed to Canada (Referred to lovingly as the brain drain). Several physicists I now know made a similar move towards Europe after the Superconducting Super Collider was cancelled in US but the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Europe was going ahead. In the last week a UK Government Think Tank has again suggested that the UK Government look at Tax Breaks for the games industry, it remains to be seen whether they will act on this advice.
It seems to me that the problem is the recent decline of the competitiveness of the UK and US in matters of science and technology has been decades in the making. Administration after administration has failed to invest in education or technology in any meaningful way. Although it now seems like they are serious about investing in the future.
Currently Science, Maths and Computer Science education in the UK and US is not great, particularly at high school level and I think this is where it needs to start. The amount of people I meet who think science and computers are just boring is really disappointing, I thought we had shaken that image off a long time ago.
In the past week, the space shuttle Discovery rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building to its launch pad for the very last time. By the end of the year, the whole shuttle fleet will have been retired. This is despite the fact that the only current alternative is the Russian Soyuz programme, which has changed very little since the Soyuz-T system first launched in 1976. I believe the plan is for NASA to invest in commercial ventures that are likely to be appear within the next decade to pick up the slack. Investment like this is what is going to make the difference.
Obviously, Canada already offers tax breaks for the games industry and I believe that some states in the US do as well, can anyone confirm this? Do you think that tax breaks are the right way to go to encourage investment?
Perhaps, with the right investment in technology and particularly the games industry we can remain competitive in the future?
Bootnote: Apologies if you got the first version of this post, I published it accidently.