The 2016 presidential election is well underway. And, as we contemplate the stump speeches and talking points, what I find interesting is not what the candidates talk about but what they avoid.
What is not being discussed is Tech Policy. And the silence is conspicuous, precisely because so many of the things they do talk about depend on technology in one way or another.
So what should we be talking about? Two things.
First, Internet connectivity. At one time, the US could boast the fastest internet connections in the world. Today we sit at number 17. At the top of the heap is South Korea, which worked with private industry to provide end-to-end, fiber optic connections to all users. This is not just about a better Netflix experience; it is about economic development and jobs.
Second, code. Other countries have made learning how to write code a national educational objective. Scotland teaches children to program computers beginning at age 3, and Estonia has pledged significant funding to code writing in elementary schools. While we debate about standardized testing and teacher layoffs, the Estonians are preparing a generation of code-literate graduates to compete on a global scale.
But it is probably incorrect to blame the candidates. They are simply doing what politicians always do—telling us what we want to hear. So this is on us. If we want to hear more about Tech Policy, we need to demand it of those who seek our nation’s highest office.
I’m David Gunkel, and that is my perspective.