Can Innovation Solve Society’s Problems?

Since World War II, the United States has famously funded research to advance all fields of science and innovation. The resulting wave of discovery and knowledge has benefited Americans by creating new disease-fighting drugs, increasing economic productivity, and sparking an information revolution through advances like the internet and GPS. Yet not everyone has benefited from innovation equally, and our society remains bedeviled by a host of problems—from healthcare disparities to income inequality and structural racism. Can discovery and invention really fix the entrenched inequities and deep divisions that ail America? What does it take to create society-changing leaps forward in innovation and technology?

Two experts in American innovation—former DARPA director Arati Prabhakar, who is now CEO and founder of the nonprofit Actuate, and Issues in Science and Technology editor-in-chief Daniel Sarewitz—visit Zócalo to consider the promise and pitfalls of innovation as the nation attempts to emerge from one of the most challenging periods in its history.

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