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As Technological Change Accelerates, Can Policy Keep Up?

Technology, Policymaking, and the Future

Speakers: Joel Garreau, Principal, The Garreau Group; Author, Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies, and What It Means to Be Human
Michael Rogers, Founder, Practical Futurist; Futurist-in-Residence, New York Times Company
Presider: Lee Brenner, Cofounder and Publisher,
May 23, 2014

Event Description

Joel Garreau of the Garreau Group and Michael Rogers of the Practical Futurist join's Lee Brenner to discuss the latest advances in information technology and biotechnology and their implications for public policy. The panelists note that though government support for basic research has been crucial to the development of many advanced technologies, the proper level of governmental involvement in the regulation of those technologies is contested. They also discuss the economic challenges that are created as technology alters the demand for particular skills in labor force.

Event Highlights

Joel Garreau on how society adapts to technological change:

"But one of the things that looks pretty clear to me is that technology moves faster than culture. There is a culture lag. And I guess everybody knows what I mean when I say Moore's Law, right, you know, I mean, this curve of accelerating change? Well, that's also true for now, increasingly for biology and robotics and you know. If the curve accelerating change is going up like this, and if our responses are more or less flat, like we're waiting for House judiciary to solve our problems, well, we're obviously toast, right, because the gap just keeps on getting wider and wider."

Joel Garreau on the role that the U.S. government plays in supporting basic science research:

"One of the things you have to keep track of is the fact that just about all of this change that we're talking about was financed by the U.S. government. Steve Jobs, you know, that whole myth about the garage, I mean, he was a packager and a designer, I mean, and a great one, don't get me wrong. But every single technology in your smart phone was created by the U.S. government, from Siri to GPS to the touch screen to all of this."

Michael Rogers on technological change and its implications for economic and labor policy:

"We need to do two things about finding jobs for people. One, we need to give sort of service work more dignity. And we probably need to pay more for it, to give people truly living wages. It's not unlike the early days of factories when the factory workers went in and, you know, they didn't make much money at all. And it was not until the unionization and suddenly, they were the middle class. And the middle class drove our economic engines. Now, it's pretty clear that service workers are going to be driving—those are going to be the jobs. They're going to be driving the economy. But not if they make $7 an hour."

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