National Robotics Initiative (NRI) Funding Announced

The goal of the National Robotics Initiative is to accelerate the development and use of robots in the United States that work beside or cooperatively with people. Innovative robotics research and applications emphasizing the realization of such co-robots working in symbiotic relationships with human partners is supported by multiple agencies of the federal government including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The purpose of this program is the development of this next generation of robotics, to advance the capability and usability of such systems and artifacts, and to encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative application areas. It will address the entire life cycle from fundamental research and development to manufacturing and deployment.

Multi-Agency Federal Cybersecurity Plan Released by OMB

The Office of Management & Budget recently released the Federal Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (“CSIP”).

This is result of actions begun earlier this year with a comprehensive review of the Federal Government’s cybersecurity policies, procedures, and practices by a multi-agency group known as the Sprint Team. The goal was to identify and address critical cybersecurity gaps and emerging priorities, and make specific recommendations to address those gaps and priorities. The CSIP will strengthen Federal civilian cybersecurity through the following five objectives:

  1. Prioritized Identification and Protection of high value information and assets;
  2. Timely Detection of and Rapid Response to cyber incidents;
  3. Rapid Recovery from incidents when they occur and Accelerated Adoption of lessons learned from the Sprint assessment;
  4. Recruitment and Retention of the most highly-qualified Cybersecurity Workforce talent the Federal Government can bring to bear; and
  5. Efficient and Effective Acquisition and Deployment of Existing and Emerging Technology.

National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence @NIST , Mobile Device Security Building Block

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is inviting organizations to provide products and technical expertise to support and demonstrate security platforms for the Mobile Device Security Building Block. This is the initial step for the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) in collaborating with technology companies to address cybersecurity challenges identified under the Mobile Device Security Building Block. Participation in the building block is open to all interested organizations.


Agency as a Normative Theory of Trust

To be given the authority to exercise discretion on behalf of another is the hallmark of trust for a human agent. This paper describes a normative theory and model of trust derived from principles of the U.S. law of agency. We posit that norms of agency help reduce the risk in deploying agents thus enabling greater trust. We demonstrate that the core principles of legal agency can be formalized into a novel, non-quantitative theory describing trust in agency relationships.

Source: Agency as a Normative Theory of Trust: Towards Deriving Theoretical Functions of Social Trust from Agency Law by Timothy P. Clancy, Daniel E. Arista :: SSRN

Fixing the frozen federal budget process — the land of the pessimist

The federal budget and appropriations process is frozen and irretrievably broken…that’s not exactly breaking news.  The problem is how to fix it.  This has enormous impact on science and engineering across all disciplines.  Much basic research is federally funded and chaos in the budget system is making it increasingly difficult to sustain needed research both at universities and private sector.

POLITICO recently surveyed six experts on prospective solutions.  Each offered their best ideas for making the budget work again.

Unfortunately given the current situation in Congress I’m in the pessimists’ camp as outlined by well-known budget guru Stan Collender who concluded:

Don’t bother: There’s no way to make the current congressional budget process work until there’s a consensus in Congress on what that process should do. And in the existing take-no-prisoners world on Capitol Hill, that’s not going to happen any time soon.

There is no technocratic fix for the current budget problems.  Those solutions can only be made through the political process —  a process that is itself, frozen.