ELECTION 2016: Is there a Political Party envisioning America in a Future Tech world?

The short answer is NO.

Why do you care?:   Exhibit A – housing prices in Silicon Valley.

America’s money and America’s future are in technology. Future jobs, wealth, growth and our advancement as a society will come from the technology industry. Our ability to defend ourselves against enemies will require advanced technological tools against those that purport to destroy our way of life. If we are constantly building an advanced, future tech America that neither our trade competitors nor our ideological enemies could envision, we will remain one, no, one hundred steps ahead. The industrial age has passed, the tech age must be embraced. But you would never know from the rhetoric in the major party campaign platforms.

This is not a political blog but the world envisioned in the Life Online books series is based on a generally optimistic vision of a world where technology has been used to redress many of the world’s ills (at a price). We especially need to continue humanity’s advancement and fight racism, sexism, discrimination and poverty. A commitment to building a high-tech future would go a long way to exhibiting that all vestiges of the past, including our prejudices, are going to fade and die with the industrial age. Life Online associates the technological age with advanced social progress, which implements the 20th century promises of freedom and equality for all.

Our hopes lie in implementing the super high tech vision of the future. If we were leaping forward in this century: millions of jobs could be created by the complete transformation of our crumbling infrastructure into a next century efficient, clean energy jewel that addresses environmental concerns; every child and struggling adult could be accounted for in the education system through online curriculum training tracking their progress in real-time; health care spending could be plummeting as we move all providers to use online tools, and sophisticated applications to monitor our vitals and trigger preventative measures; half the population could work from home using more advanced communication tools which save billions in energy costs, as well as helping limit social and mental strain; we could vacation further away for longer periods of time and unite the world through faster, flying cars and supersonic airplanes; drones could not only deliver our online purchases but also search for missing children and confused senior citizens; and literally and figuratively we could be breathing clean fresh air reclaimed from the age of the smokestack.

Of course the advances also bring ominous opportunities. Maybe we could vanquish terrorists through omnipresent surveillance, but we would sacrifice our personal privacy; food could be abundant, fresh and made anywhere but the product’s DNA may no longer be recognizable; and drones could instantly deliver any purchase without asking but maybe only through providing the entire scope of our shopping preferences to a gigantic database.

In all cases, none of the above is possible without tens of thousands of technologists literally coding the solutions to implement the changes. And as of today, we do not have the people or the resources dedicated to the transition of our society into the future.

A national party with no vision for America as an advanced technological society is really upholding retrenchment at a time when we cannot afford to fall behind our competitors in global trade nor lose a generation of young people to entrenched stereotypes and ignorance.

But given the results of my analysis below, you may note the limited understanding of the changing world and ask – How is it possible that no major party really appears committed to building a high tech America?

The answer is likely that if the parties address the issues at all, no candidate would be willing to state the truth, which is – embracing the technological age will cause extensive upheaval and require readjustments and sacrifices by the American people. Everyone will have to work harder. Millions more industrial age jobs will be lost, and any task that can be automated will disappear. Politicians are afraid to tell Americans exactly what their ancestors were told when they set out for this country. America provides all rewards and benefits to those who are willing to work for it, there may be nothing for you on arrival, you’ll have to earn your opportunity. Few Americans are willing to start from the bottom again, and politicians would rather pretend to repatriate the past than gamble on an undetermined future. As you will see below, every major party only pays lip-service to the technological age, but not one makes a formal or bold commitment to the future which is undoubtedly already upon us.

As voters, we are left to make a decision based on the approach best meeting our needs. But we must realize that in Silicon Valley, Bengaluru, Shanghai and Skolkovo, another agenda will continue to be pursued with or without government support. Global technologists will continue to disrupt established businesses, settled practices and inconvenient regulations. And we as consumers will be the ones balancing the government’s attempt to save us from the inevitable against our own desire to accept the conveniences brought by the future tech changes, while lamenting the loss of our own economic security. The choice to be made in November includes this fundamental decision about where the future lies.

The Analysis:

I did a not-completely unscientific survey of the future tech position of the two big parties, and the next three parties with a presidential candidate that is reportedly on the ballot in at least 20 states.

Based on the idea that the number of times an issue is mentioned in the party’s key platform document is a reflection of its importance, in alphabetical order, here is the stated view on the issues for a future tech world.

table-chart-2

Below is a brief non-political summary of the points made in each platform document.

Definitions:

Platform theme – means did the party have the advancement of a future tech America or a similar idea as one of the main themes (chapters) of the document. The answer across the board was NO.

Section heading – means did the party have a sub-theme or sub-chapter or section with a title implying a recognition of future world themes. In this case, four out of five did.

To Note – means did the party have any comments in the text that reflected Life Online ideas especially if the concepts are not commonly discussed. If the party only made generalized comments like “invest, support, help” there will be no note.

Page numbers refer to the document (printed) page, if available.

By Party:

Constitution Party

Platform Theme – Not Applicable

Section Heading – YES see:

Personal and Private Property and Security

Terrorism and Personal Liberty

To Note:

Modernization of armed forces in keeping with advanced technologies (pg. 10)

Non-traditional education options including internet based schools (pg.12)

No exception to the 4th and 5th amendments for war or public danger (pg. 29)

Democratic Party

Platform Theme – NO

Section Heading – YES see:

Pursuing our Innovation Agenda: Science, Research, Education and Technology under Creating Good Paying Jobs;

Cybersecurity and online privacy under Confront Global Threats

To Note:

High-speed broadband networks included in the Building a 21st Century Infrastructure (pg. 8)

Build on the creation of the United States Digital Service (USDS) to digitize the top 25 federal government programs directly serving citizens (pg. 26)

STEAM classes and computer science education (pg. 33)

Green Party

Platform Theme – NO

Section Heading – YES see:

Advanced Technology and Defense Conversion

To Note:

Broadband internet access for all residents (pg.10)

Privacy protections of 4th amendment extend to the Internet (pg. 16)

Defense technology transfer towards a peacetime technology based economy (pg.65)

Libertarian Party

Platform Theme – NO

Section Heading – NO

To Note:

Oppose government control of communications media and technology (pg. 2)

Protection from unreasonable search and seizure should include records held by third parties (pg. 2)

 Republican Party

Platform Theme – NO

Section Heading – YES see:

Building the Future: Technology under Restoring the American Dream;

The Fourth Amendment: Liberty and Privacy under Rebirth of Constitutional Government;

Protecting Internet Freedom under Government Reform;

Facing 21st Century threats: Cybersecurity in an Insecure world and Confronting Internet tyranny under America Resurgent

To Note:

Strict limitations on use of aerial surveillance on U.S. soil (except at the border) (pg. 13)

Protecting the private ownership of individual farmers’ and ranchers’ data (pg. 18)

Ensure personal data receives Constitutional protection from government overreach (pg. 25)

Lists online learning among school choice options (pg. 34)

Expand cyber workforce with assistance of military, business and hacker communities (pg. 54)

 

Links to the Platform documents

Constitution Party http://www.constitutionparty.com/our-principles/platform-and-resolutions/

Democratic Party https://www.demconvention.com/platform/

Green Party http://www.gp.org/platform

Libertarian Party https://www.lp.org/platform

Republican Party https://www.gop.com/the-2016-republican-party-platform/

 

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