Tuesday, August 2, 2016

No Matter Who Our Next President Is, They Won't Understand Technology

from the that-seems-like-a-problem dept

Politico has an article with a misleading title -- the return of the Luddite president -- which discusses how neither of the two major party Presidential candidates are even remotely tech savvy. The headline is an unfortunate oversell. Luddites aren't just people who don't know anything about technology. They're people who actively dislike certain technologies, in the belief that such advances will harm their own livelihoods. In a broader sense, the term is used to discuss people who generally dislike the march of technological progress. Again, that does not appear to be the case with either of the two candidates, who (at best) might just be described as agnostic to/indifferent to new technologies and somewhat ignorant on what that might mean from a policy perspective.
Clinton's tech travails are all over the headlines, including the lax security of her home-brewed email server and her documented struggles with fax machines — and the recently disclosed hacking of the Democratic National Committee's emails won't do much to burnish her party's image of cyber competence.

But Trump's hardly a candidate for the Geek Squad either, despite the prolific round-the-clock tweeting strategy he uses to dominate the headlines. He has boasted that he hardly ever sends emails — and, like Clinton, he often relies on staff to print news articles off the internet.

“I’m just not a believer in email,” Trump said during a news conference Wednesday where he criticized Clinton's use of a private server when she was secretary of State.
Of course, this is still problematic! Technological innovation is going to have a massive impact on a huge list of issues that any President is going to face over the next four years. And not understanding those issues, let alone how they may impact the policy choices that are being made is worrisome -- just not as worrisome as someone who actively dislikes technological progress.

Still, there are reasonable concerns here:
“These are two candidates who don't have their hands on the technology, and that’s unfortunate, because without that it’s difficult to understand this stuff on a deeper, more visceral level,” said Peter Leyden, a futurist and former managing editor of Wired who was an early Obama backer in Silicon Valley....


“We're on the verge of a fundamentally different economy that’s being absolutely transformed by the next wave of technology,” Leyden said. “It will have huge ramifications on society. And someone running the goddamn country has to know that."
Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely. And that's probably going to keep us at Techdirt pretty busy for the next four years.

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