Quartz

Politicians Are Too Out of Touch to Make Laws About Tech

Tech is ahead of the curve. Politics is behind the times. How can we expect the latter to properly regulate the former when politicians are so out of touch?

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Vikrum Aiyer
Vice President of Global Public Policy at Postmates (Former Obama White House Senior Advisor)

Technology firms need to build empathy for government, and government needs to build empathy for industry. In the same way that tours of duty in prior generations including investing in the developing world (Peace Corps) or investing in under resources schools (Teach 4 America), our current crop of executives & elected’s must build a pipeline of service that rotates in and out of tech & government so that technically minded folks (ie on AI) can inform regulations, and those who know how government stakeholder processes work can inform how tech engages the Public sector in the first place.

Moreover, as new innovations shift the way we work — tech & worker voice organizations should be willing to work together to guide a future of work shaped by more automation & more disaggregated workers.

Ian Myers
GM of Platform at Quartz

Hold on now. We all saw the Facebook hearings and the technical ignorance on display for the world to see, but that’s not a reason for disqualifying politicians from making regulation about technology and certainly, how could we leave technologists to regulate themselves? I’m sure the tobacco industry would love to co-create some regulation as well.

The point being, politicians (broken as the system is) represent their constituents, the citizens of this country. Tech companies represent their shareholders. Politicians need an education in technology, no question—but to a large extent, their views and understanding probably matches with a large portion of the American public.

Alex Jiménez
Fintech Strategist at AlexRJimenez.com

Once I had the chance to visit with members of the Senate banking Committee. They didn’t understand how people could bank with a smart phone, all had Blackberrys. They were skeptical not just about crypto, but of digital in general. Their young aides, most of them young attorneys, were no better.

Glenn Nye
CEO at Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress

The root problem is that we don’t prepare our citizenry well on these topics either. Digital Ec should be the new Home Ec. Americans should leave school understanding how their personal data drives the economy and the wonders and perils that go with that. Then we can have an informed public debate about rules.

Paul Vigna
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies reporter at The Wall Street Journal

Hard to take this seriously when the dude who wrote it puts up a picture of himself grinning wildly with a big thumbs up as his thumbnail photo, but...

Yes, there is a real problem and disconnect between Silicon Valley (i.e., the tech world) and Washington (i.e., the law world). The solution is not to say lawmakers can’t regulate tech. The solution is more education for the lawmakers. So, more hearings where they can ask “dumb” questions. I’d humbly suggest a subscription to The Wall Street Journal, too, or other high-quality media outlet.

ALSO, Silicon Valley has some work to do, too. These guys don’t spend enough time thinking about the ramifications of their “killer apps.” They need to do more than hire lobbyists to live in Washington and try to snow lawmakers. The “move fast and break things” model of development leads to a lot of, you know, broken things. Think a little about the things you’re breaking.