What just happened? AMD boss Lisa Su has joined several other tech names as members of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Joe Biden announced the appointments on Wednesday, with members set to advise his administration "on policy matters where the understanding of science, technology, and innovation is key."

In addition to Su, Nvidia chief scientist Dr. William Dally, Microsoft chief scientific officer Dr. Eric Horvitz, and Google Cloud chief information security officer Phil Venables are joining PCAST. The three chairs leading the council will be California Institute of Technology's Dr. Frances Arnold, MIT's Dr. Maria Zuber, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. Eric Lander.

"Drawing from the nation's most talented and accomplished individuals, President Biden's PCAST includes 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, five MacArthur "Genius" Fellows, two former Cabinet secretaries, and two Nobel laureates," notes the White House.

It's emphasised that the appointees won't be paid for being members of PCAST; they will be reimbursed only for travel, meals, and accommodations in accordance with government regulations. Su, who was 2019's highest-paid CEO with total compensation of $58.5 million, said she was honored to be named to the council.

PCAST will be looking to answer five main science questions:

  • What can we learn from the pandemic about what is possible---or what ought to be possible--- to address the widest range of needs related to our public health?
  • How can breakthroughs in science and technology create powerful new solutions to address climate change---propelling market-driven change, jump-starting economic growth, improving health, and growing jobs, especially in communities that have been left behind?
  • How can the United States ensure that it is the world leader in the technologies and industries of the future that will be critical to our economic prosperity and national security, especially in competition with China?
  • How can we guarantee that the fruits of science and technology are fully shared across America and among all Americans?
  • How can we ensure the long-term health of science and technology in our nation?

It'll be interesting to see exactly how much influence the council will have on directing government policy. In addition to the pandemic, Biden is dealing with an unprecedented chip crisis expected to last into the middle of next year.

While Nvidia's chief scientist was appointed to the council, it's unclear if Jensen Huang delegated the position or wasn't offered it. The CEO was recently named one of Time's most influential people of 2021 and was one of seven people to get their own front cover.