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Why Is Congress so Clueless About Tech?

Linked by Paul Ciano on April 27, 2016

Cory Doctorow:

Whenever there's a debate about climate change, Internet censorship, encryption, or other highly technical subjects, we routinely hear Members of Congress say things like, "I'm no scientist, but..." Whenever you hear that, you should substitute, "I fired all the scientists, so..."

The fact that Congress is flying blind, technologically speaking, explains an awful lot, from climate change denial to the crypto wars to SOPA and the Office of Personnel Management breach.

The OTA was once a jewel in America's crown, widely studied and duplicated by other governments around the world. The problem was that the OTA was reality-based and reality has a well-known liberal bias. So when Reagan proposed his Star Wars missile shield, the OTA stubbornly refused to say it would work, because it wouldn't.

This is the structural barrier to rebooting the OTA today. The absence of independent technical experts in Congress gives Reps and Senators cover when they introduce bad policy (which may be good for their campaign funders). They can bring in their own "experts" who'll testify against renewable energy or vaccination or whatever, and accuse the other side's experts of "partisanship."

Paul Ciano

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