Is massive mobilization a viable government response to the future?
Purpose ‐ This article aims to review the response of the National Academies of Science, in the USA to the question posed by the US Congress as to how the USA can remain competitive in a world with rapid advances in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It posits that the responses via rapid scaling up of research cannot meet the needs as it has in the past as with putting a person on the moon or mastering nuclear energy. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The article reviews alternatives that describe and reframe the problem and provides alternative possibilities for a response by the USA. Findings ‐ The ability of knowledge to migrate globally via the internet or the migration of humans coupled with the rapid rise in education and research in India and China suggest that the USA needs to reassess its position in a changing world both from an technological and economic perspective. Originality/value ‐ The analysis provides a future perspective that is counter-intuitive and offers an alternative from which to develop policy and support of technology development in a global society.