Apple CEO Tim Cook angered me recently, complaining loudly about “fake news” on the Internet but failing to say he would do anything about it. Or so it was reported by many news outlets.
The truth is more nuanced. Cook is seeking a technological solution, something that scales, against what he sees as a human problem. Passing along lies may be “your prerogative” but it is the medium’s responsibility to slow the spread of lies and take action against persistent liars.
This is a hard truth the Internet industry is just waking up to, in the Age of Trump.
CrossCheck, a system for flagging fake news in France, which holds a Presidential election this spring, is Version 1 of the emerging solution. It’s important to note, however, that it’s just Version 1. Leading companies must undertake an open source process before a real solution can be implemented.
The best years of this century for Democrats were 2005 and 2006, when DNC chair Howard Dean initiated his “50-state strategy.”
The idea was simple. Democrats would fight everywhere, not just in blue states but in red ones as well. They would fight on every level, on local and state issues, even if they had no chance. But they would fight.
Dean, plus Katrina, combined to make 2006 the only mid-term election of this century where Democrats enjoyed an unalloyed triumph. This holds important lessons for today’s Democrats, and for their technology overlords.
First, it makes little sense to just complain, as they did during Trump’s Inauguration. You need to go on offense.
Despite the ongoing depression of my Democratic friends, Trumpism is doomed.
There is nothing he can do about this, because his politics are based on a fading economic model in resources and manufacturing, he rules by instinct rather than through data, and his allies practice a rigid ideology out of step with the times.
Nothing illustrates this better than his selection of Reg Tillerson as his Secretary of State. Tillerson’s job is to make peace in the oilpatch, or at least bring about a détente among producers that can result in higher profits for Houston’s majors (like Exxon), and save the economies of Russia and Saudi Arabia, which are failing under the pressure of a war President Obama did little to discourage.
Oil and other resources, meanwhile, are becoming fungible under the onslaught of technology. Right now, oil and gas are only competitive in the West because of infrastructure built out over decades. Emerging economies don’t have the capital to both build out an oil infrastructure and continue paying the price of oil, not in the face of decentralized renewable energy systems and the pressure of efficiency, which is only going to increase as 2020 approaches. Nor do they need it.
Usually an election offers two similar, if contrasting, economic programs, both of which are equally valid.
The 2016 election was different, offering a simple choice between smart and stupid. Voters chose stupid.
So, you’re going to get stupid. I think you’re going to get Stoopid. Trump and his Republican friends are too stupid to merit a correct spelling.
As the advance of technology has accelerated, evidence has become more-and-more important to policymakers. Trump rejects that reality and substitutes his own personality. His followers substitute a rigid ideology.
For all those depressed over the prospect of Donald Trump as President (no one I know will admit to having voted for him) there is this.
Technology represents an irresistible tide.
No matter how tightly Republicans cling to the resource economy technology is overtaking it and, in doing so, destroying any hope his politics may have for a future.
We are on an accelerating track of change in which human capital means more-and-more, all other types of capital less-and-less. Devotion to the interests of the resource industries is counterproductive. That’s good for China, great for India and East Asia, even good news for Africa and Latin America. All the Middle East needs is a little peace to realize that Israel is a better economic model to follow than Saudi Arabia.
The next few years will see technology, the industrial wave of the present, fighting to take back power (permanently) from the resource industries which seized it in 2016.
Technology will succeed. The future can’t be put back into the bottle. If it can’t succeed here, it will go elsewhere, leaving America to become just another Latin American dictatorship.
But there’s another wave following technology. Just as technology followed resources, resources followed manufacturing, and manufacturing followed utilities, railroads, and agriculture to the center of the U.S. economy, and thus its politics, so biology is following technology.
In the 21st century there is no capital so important as human capital.
High-quality human capital consists of people who are educated, educable, and who are excited about what they are doing. They’re golden threads in the haystack of humanity. Put them together with a supportive environment and you get growth.
Since computing was invented the United States has been the leader in human capital. We attract it, we train it, and we deploy it better than anyone else.
Increase the percentage of high-quality human capital you have, in relation to the other kind, and your society can grow very quickly. Think Singapore or Hong Kong. Think Israel or great cities like London. If your cities or nation is a magnet for human capital, what Richard Florida called “the creative class,” wealth will be yours.
The political interests of the Internet are easy to list, and were endorsed by the Obama Administration as a matter of course. The primary interest is in human capital, trained minds essential to driving the industry forward, in making it independent of older power centers, and nurturing the biological industries that need to grow and follow it into power.
The latest technology trend is right up my son’s alley.
It’s eSports, people playing high-end video games for serious money.
I was somewhat shocked when my son insisted on buying a powerful desktop PC before heading to graduate school. I had failed to understand, from my couch in front of the TV, that gaming is now the tip of the PC spear. (No wonder I got to choose what shows to watch.)
Only video games press the power of the latest chips and systems. Every other application set, especially my own work in writing about technology, or my son’s academic work, learning about how to create new molecules, can be done with relatively low-end gear and a cloud connection.