First Looks: Summer 2018

Book Review: Keeping the Lights On

Kai N. Lee reviews Modernizing America’s Electricity Infrastructure by Mason Willrich.

The Natural Gas Grid Needs Better Monitoring

Hundreds of times each year the natural gas pipeline system fails, shutting down electric power plants, but there is no national system to record these events and help us improve reliability.

Philosopher’s Corner: What Is Science in the National Interest?

How much accountability should the public and legislators demand of taxpayer-funded research endeavors?

Book Review: Varieties of Technological Experience

Carl Mitcham reviews The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics, by Yuk Hui.

Perspective: Self-Driving Cars: How Soon Is Soon Enough?

The movement toward autonomous vehicles has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the future. But it should not proceed through technological determinism or in a hasty dash for commercial profit.

Real Numbers: Indicators of R&D Tax Support

Tax incentives have become an increasingly popular instrument for governments to promote private-sector research and development investment, displacing direct funding such as grants and public procurement.

The Limits of Dual Use

Distinguishing between military and civilian applications of scientific research and technology development has become increasingly difficult. A more nuanced framework is needed to guide research.

Adapting to Global Warming: Four National Priorities

In the context of uncertainty about how climate change will play out in the future, magnified by the need to act despite meaningful precedents, there are four things the United States needs to do now to address global warming.

Nuclear Power Needs Leadership, but Not from the Military

Proponents of today’s beleaguered nuclear power industry want the US Department of Defense to lead in commercial reactor development and deployment. Bad idea. Here’s a modest alternative.

Is Innovation China’s Next Great Leap Forward?

The United States is the world’s innovation leader, but it can no longer take its premier position for granted.

Beyond Patents

Scholars of innovation use patenting as an indicator of both innovativeness and the value of science. It might be neither.*


Responses to essays in the Spring 2018 Issues from Mary L. Gray, Sean M. Kevelighan, Roy Wright, David Danks, Alex John London, Don Albrecht, Chris Hendrickson, Richard Berk, Hannah Sassaman, and Megan Stevenson.

Opening Up the Climate Policy Envelope

Fudged assumptions about the future are hampering efforts to deal with climate change in the present. It’s time to get real.

Table of Contents for the Summer 2018 issue

Order the Summer 2018 Issue

* Note: An incorrect version of Figure 1 in Jeffrey Funk’s Feature essay was erroneously published in the print edition of Issues. The correct figure is included in the online version and available here.