The Current (Events): Senators need a lesson in tech-literacy


Mars by 2020, renewable energy, self-driving cars and more. These are the technologies that are society will be grappling with in the near future. I have high hopes for the benefits of this technology, but significantly lower hopes for the policies and regulations the government will enact to deal with this tech boom. Many of our country’s policy makers have a severe disconnect with the magnitude that quickly evolving technology has.

This became especially evident recently when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went in front of the Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary committees to talk about data security. Afterward, the internet was plastered with memes about Zuckerberg’s awkwardness and the Senate’s ignorance about technology. For example, when the topic rose to whether or not Facebook has a monopoly, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked, “Is Twitter the same as what you do?” Another favorite was when Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) asked Zuckerberg, “How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” Zuckerberg sneaks a smile and replies. “Senator, we run ads.”

This excerpt does not fairly represent the entire congress, but it does show how drastic some senators’ lack of knowledge is. As the role technology plays in American life continues to grow, it will become more and more important for our policy makers to be caught up.

Two things need to happen. The first is that the way cutting-edge technology must become a central issue to campaign debates. Whether it’s countries attempting to influence our election with technology or the role self driving cars will play in the transportation industry, leaders should know the nuances of each issue.

Second, it is our jobs as citizen to elect technologically-literate people, people who understand that we are at a turning point in history. As powerful of a tool technology can be, it can also be an equally dangerous weapon. It is the safe and smart decision to elect people who can handle this rapid growth.