WaPo – ‘I can understand about 50 percent of the things you say’: How Congress is struggling to get smart on tech

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/06/06/i-can-understand-about-50-percent-of-the-things-you-say-how-congress-is-struggling-to-get-smart-on-tech/?utm_term=.d9d46ecbb133

https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings/disrupter-series-quantum-computing/

The most obvious recent example of this was Zuckerberg’s testimony before congress when almost all questions to him were from obviously ignorant politicians and their understand of technology

  • tech experts arrived at a little-noticed hearing at the U.S. Capitol in May with a message: Quantum computing is a bleeding-edge technology with the potential to speed up drug research, financial transactions and more (this is pretty ‘duh!’
  • Congress confronting complex policy debates posed by inventions like artificial intelligence, rise of Russian propaganda online, etc
    •  policymakers themselves admit they aren’t fully prepared to deal with the issues
  • Congress looking to revive the Capitol’s old science-and-tech think tank, the Office of Technology Assessment, which lawmakers disbanded amid partisan squabbles in the 1990s (unlikely with Trump as president…knowledge is bad)
    • could aid the U.S. government at a moment when objective advice seems to be in short supply
  • “We’re going to need to figure out autonomous cars, 5G wireless, gene editing, the Internet of things.” (Jessica Rosenworcel, Dem-FCC Commissioner)
  • Lawmakers earned ridicule when interviewing Facebook CEO (Zuckerberg)
    • Democrats and Republicans alike seemed mystified by the inner workings of a multibillion-dollar American corporation that they’re supposed to regulate
    • Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) essentially asked Facebook if it’s funded through advertising (duh!)
  • Congress really should have its own (tech) advisers, (Rep Mark Takano, D-Calif)
  • Congress has its share of tech-literate members
    • can hire their own staff or seek advice from other organizations, like the Government Accountability Office
      • team of about 50 tech experts study issues (are you kidding me…50 people to study all of the various technology coming at us?)
  • “When a new member of Congress is coming in to set up an office – “Nobody says, ‘Oh, I need a science adviser.’
  • In seeking to revive the Office of Technology Assessment
    • OTA performed research on subjects like missile defense and climate change, often trying to anticipate controversies before they became fodder for congressional hearings
    • upcoming budget bill calls for a study to determine if OTA might be useful
    •  dedicate a meager $2.5 million for OTA in seed funding

One thought on “WaPo – ‘I can understand about 50 percent of the things you say’: How Congress is struggling to get smart on tech

  1. Very good comments. Mark Z sure brought Congress members’ lack of knowledge about technology front and center. For each Representative and Senator to hire several people knowledgeable about technology would a giant step for those trying to govern us.

    Like

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