Tech Giants Seek Policy Influence

President Barack Obama is getting the rolling at the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin Texas. His aim is to spark a conversation as to how government agencies and technologists can work together to solve some of the greatest problems facing Americans. Obama in many ways wanted to put himself forward as someone who embraced technology, this was done as a kind of cementing of a tech-laden legacy. In so doing, he also wants the incumbent president to follow his lead and make tech a vital tool in his or her administration.8621f1c116bfc0c036eaca7d461099a1obama01c32828

That said, according to a poll taken of those who attended South by Southwest, many people have doubts in regards to what they actually think an elected official can accomplish. On one occasion, the online survey that was conducted in February took the opinion of nearly 900 interactive attendees and found that nearly 61 percent of those who responded proclaimed that it was their opinion that the tech industry is better handled to find the solutions to societal ills than the government. That’s a pretty big percentage.

More than 20 percent stated that neither political party is “equipped to leverage technology”. That is why it is not surprising when we see tech giants such as Mark Zuckerburg attempt to go around government with massive social contributions and programs targeting social progress like heath care and education. In fact, over the past couple of decades the Silicon Valley has become an incredibly powerful political force. This is reflective of the oddly libertarian streak that runs in the Silicon Valley.

The South by Southwest interactive community identifies overwhelmingly as Democrats according the the survey. But even they do not come out in wide spread support that the issue of guns or online hate speech can be adequately handled by the government. With such a wide swath being democratic at this event even they are skeptical as to whether or not the government has the best talent to be at the apex of internet superiority. They are certainly 1a but the gap from 1 to 1a is vast. The reason being that the benefits in the silicon valley are way better than anything the government is providing.

smart2This dovetails nicely into the story emerging this week where Elon Musk, Tim Cook and several other tech giants meet last week to discuss the potential for stopping Donald Trump. But the hot button issue at this conference and one that is close to Obama’s heart is that of gun control. people believe that technologists are better positioned to address gun violence and weapon regulation. not insofar as enacting actual policy, rather to the extent that they are able to enact a better means to developing what is refereed to as “smart guns” which are software encrypted guns that are primarily finger print encrypted as or locked by other means from keeping anyone but the registered owner from using it. This would be huge considering the huge amount of accidental and wrongfully used gun related violence. In the autumn of Obama’s candidacy it appears that he is not holding back on anything and speaking his mind the way we all thought he would when elected.

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