The White House, Back To The Future Day, and the Road to Innovation

White House's Back To The Future Day graphic

Well, it’s here: October 21, 2015. While Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) got to experience flying cars in 1989’s part two of the Back to the Future trilogy, we, on the other hand, are not quite there—yet! As the White House notes, we have come a long way in the past 30 years since the original Back to the Future came out in 1985, and #BackToTheFutureDay is a great opportunity to talk about where we’re going in the next 30.

Although Marty and Doc don’t officially arrive until 7:28 pm, the White House is hosting events this morning and afternoon with representatives from various agencies, universities, and the private sector to get the conversation going about current and upcoming innovations in technology and government. Leave a message on of what you think 2045 will look like, or join them online using the hashtags below to contribute your ideas.

Here’s the schedule for the day: {.light}

  • 9:30 A.M. ET: A Google+ Hangout Conversation on Time Travel
    Featuring: OSTP Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation Tom Kalil, Professor Tim Ralph of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and Mr. Martin Ringbauer, a PhD student at the University of Queensland.
    What you can do: Watch live right here!
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  • 10:30 A.M. ET: A Twitter Conversation on Autonomous Vehicles
    Featuring: Deputy Chief Technology Officer Ed Felten and OSTP Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation Tom Kalil.
    What you can do: Follow @EdFelten44 and @WhiteHouseOSTP — and weigh in on the conversation on Twitter using #BackToTheFutureDay.
  • 11:30 A.M. ET: A Twitter Q+A on the Future of Women in STEM
    Featuring: Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Ellen Stofan, OSTP Principal Assistant Director for Environment and Energy Tammy Dickinson, and L’Oréal’s 2015 U.S. Women in Science fellows.
    What you can do: Follow @USCTO and @LOrealUSA on Twitter, and weigh in on what you’d like to see women doing in STEM fields in 2045 using hashtag #WomenInScience.
  • 1:00 P.M. ET: A Google+ Hangout on Understanding the Human Brain
    Featuring: OSTP Assistant Director for Neuroscience and Mental Health Monica Basco; OSTP Senior Policy Advisor Knatokie Ford; OSTP Assistant Director for Defense Programs (and neuroscientist) Chris Fall; Karl Deisseroth M.D., Ph.D., the D.H. Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University; Kevin Pearce, Snowboarder and BRAIN initiative activist; and Dr. Julie Brefczynksi-Lewis, Research Assistant Professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.
    What you can do: Watch live right here.
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    Some recent articles about innovation in technology and government that we’ve posted here on DigitalGov include:

    The People and Teams That Power High-Impact Incentive Prizes

    Launched in 2010, and managed by GSA, is a key component of the White House’s Strategy for American Innovation, which urges agencies to use incentivized competitions to drive innovation and advance their missions.

    The Future Will Be Printed – in 3D The NIH 3D Print Exchange enhances learning and research through scientific 3D printable models.

    NASA Reaches New Frontiers in 3D Printing

    Niki Werkheiser, NASA Project Manager for the In-space Manufacturing Initiative, shared tips for agencies and federal employees that are pursuing innovative projects.

    An Innovation Framework That Delivers: The SunShot Catalyst Program The Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative funds projects that make solar energy more affordable and accessible for Americans.

    The API Briefing: NASA and USPS Explore the Holographic Computing Frontier The federal government has a few augmented reality apps that demonstrate the power of holographic computing.

    Success Spotlight: Challenge Takes Students, Biomedicine to Next Level

    In its Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called for students to submit solutions for unmet global health and clinical needs.

    DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit The second annual DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit and Expo was held on May 21, 2015, at GSA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The focus this year was OPEN (open data, open source, open content, open communication, open communities, open government) and how digital services—like mobile development, social media, APIs, data and user experience—intersect and integrate to improve citizen services and reduce costs. A select line-up of speakers from across the federal government covered such topics as: privacy and identity management, the Internet of Everything, analytics, human-centered design, agile methods, 3D printing, public participation, and customer experience. (Link includes full recording of the event)

    View additional highlights of the day at If you’d like to share how your agency is helping to move government into the future, contact us or leave a comment below.

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