I thought I would listen to last night's debate and see how much technology was referenced. As I expected it was only briefly mentioned by candidates because most of the issues discussed in politics are not related to technology.
The majority of the references to technology was during the first section of the debate that focused on the economy. Hillary Clinton referenced advanced manufacturing at one point as part of her plan to invest in the economy. Unfortunately name dropping without explaining or expanding on the issue doesn't help the average person understand what it is. Advanced manufacturing includes additive manufacturing processes like 3D printing, laser cuttting and welding of materials, and the use of new materials. While advanced manufacturing will not produce the millions of jobs that traditional manufacturing did from the 1920's to the 1970's it has the ability to bring back jobs to the rust belt. The key is that there needs to be an investment in training people who are capable of using and in most instances programming the machine. Unfortunately in a debate this usually gets left off the table.
Hillary Clinton subsequently at another juncture in the debate mentioned solar cells and a new energy grid. These two ideas have a tremendous amount of potiential for the American economy as we completely reshape our electricity delivery production and system. The new electric grid she mentioned is often called smart grid. It should allow us to move from a 19th century system of electric delivery to a 21st century system with many different sources of electricity from many different suppliers. Once again the brief reference is great, but the lack of articulation left many of those who aren't techies feeling like it was over their head. A brief explanation by the candidate would have been beneficial.
To the contrary Donald Trump never mentioned any technologies or technology and spent most of his time talking about trade deals. While I think that discussing trade and free trade deals is a very important topic of political discourse that merits it's own debate, the lack of mention of technology or new sectors of technology that the US economy could invest in showed a lack of complete understanding of the economy. Trade and free trade are significant parts of our economy, but they are not the only policy areas that impact our economy. Technology and investment in new technologies holds the potiential to increase our economy significantly, it did that in the 90's. Many of our most visionary presidents have seen technology as a way to improve and grow our economy and hence supported nascent and new ideas that would mature in the near future.
The last place that technology was mentioned was in the discussion of cyberwarfare under national security. In this instance I found that both candidates decided to take tough stands, which makes sense from a national security stance. The problem is that neither candidate had very strong ideas about countering the threat from a technology standpoint. I, the author, don't have any immediate answers either, but this could have been an opening to discuss the need for more people to learn programming as this is a skill of the future.
It will be interesting to see how much technology is discussed in future debates.
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