Welcome back to our regular Friday feature: The future in five questions. Today we have Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) who sits on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and its Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Information Security. Read on to hear his thoughts on the dangers of uncontrolled digital surveillance, clean energy innovations and the dangers of social media.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
What is an underrated big idea?
geothermal energy. America’s clean energy future requires that we harness the power that is the warmth beneath our feet—just as we must harness the power of the sun, wind, and the currents of water. We have so much potential for clean and abundant energy to be produced here at home.
What technology do you think is overrated?
Internet-connected doorbell cameras are constantly recording audio and video of our neighborhoods – capturing vast amounts of data and recording what the public is saying and doing. We shouldn’t have to trade off privacy for security.
Which book has shaped your vision of the future the most?
“The Mystery of the Flickering Torch.” The Hardy Boys find a radioactive engine in an airplane junkyard and a nuclear mystery unfolds. I remember reading the story as a kid and thinking to myself: Man shouldn’t have the godlike power of the atom.
What could the government do about technology that it isn’t?
Congress should take more seriously the potential harm that social media is doing to our nation’s children. The least we could do is fund research into this harm and ensure parents, teachers and doctors understand how platforms and their black-box algorithms can impact adolescent mental health.
What surprised you the most this year?
Well, to be honest, I think a lot about how much of our future looks like our past. Access to abortion was first recognized as a fundamental and constitutional right nearly half a century ago. The extreme right-wing majority on the Supreme Court took over immediately. Judge Thomas went so far as to suggest that his majority should overturn decisions upholding the constitutional right to marry who you love, marry, birth control and more. It’s ridiculous and it throws us back decades.
There is a fair amount of conventional wisdom about how the burgeoning politics surrounding crypto works: Aggressive, pro-regulation Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are in opposition to a freedom-loving, god-guns-and-bitcoin GOP.
It is not so easy. Two important pieces of legislation, one of which has been proposed just this week by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) That would give the CFTC more power over the regulation of crypto and introduce the broader bill increasing regulatory clarity around the industry by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) were solidly bipartisan earlier this year.
This week’s bill coincided with a particularly notable disappointment caused by POLITICO’s Sam Sutton reported yesterday for pro-subscribers on the growing anger of congressional Republicans at crypto-skeptical SEC Chairman Gary Gensler. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) took particular offense at the ambiguity over which cryptocurrencies are or should be classified as securities, telling Sam that Gensler “acts, but he does it selectively.” Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) went further by accusing the chairman of “tackling well-intentioned corporations” and saying that if Republicans take control of Congress in November, he hopes “to give him an intense To be able to test if he stays there because I think he’s broken.”
Ouch. There are plenty of crypto-sympathetic Democrats on the hill, but high-profile tiffs like this can make even a very new tech-political issue seem like another red-blue row.
Video games as a medium are now more than half a century old at least, and a massively lucrative global industry at that.
So it only makes sense that state powers should integrate them into America’s global media presence – including an official game development team within the State Department’s Technology Engagement Team releasing a browser-based game called “Cat Park” that aims to vaccinate users against online disinformation .
Patricia Watts, Director of the Technology Engagement Team, described to me how the principles of the game are based on “vaccination theory” – the idea that by being educated about common disinformation techniques, people are better equipped to recognize and reject them in the wild.
Paul Fischer, the team’s senior technical adviser, explained the game’s premise: the player takes on the role of a “disinformation agent recruited for a shadowy social media pressure campaign” to fuel opposition to a public cat park. (How evil, right?)
“There is a market for disinformation that has both a supply and a demand side,” Fischer said, saying his team is “designing[s] of games as an attack on the demand side.” The team’s previous game, which similarly focused “place of harmony“According to State Dept. Played more than 150,000 times and has an effectiveness stamp of Harvard researcher. (“Cat Park” has no release date yet.)
Fischer described how the team is also eyeing the next gaming frontier: “VR is going to be another place for disinformation, so it will be up to the industry leaders to figure out what content moderation looks like in the metaverse,” he said.
Keep in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes ([email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us on Twitter @DigitalFuture.
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