“Ethical Markets highly recommends this information-packed, insightful review by Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. of how the US Congress literally lost its mind, beginning in 1996!
Pascrell shows how the key research agencies were decimated, most notably the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) which was shut down, as well as others including, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and others which provided the vital background information to Congressmembers on how to make sounds decisions and choices regarding emerging technologies .
As we have been pointing out, this vital function could avoid the kinds of debacles we saw in Congressional hearings over the social media giants, Facebook, Google, Twitter and their monopolistic behavior, when it was obvious that members were ignorant of the basic technologies underlying these companies business models!
We are now actively supporting all the new efforts to re-fund the OTA, now more needed than ever, as we face the runaway profit-driven technologies of CRISPR gene-editing, self-driving vehicles and large-scale geo-engineering and other approaches to cope with climate change.
Of even deeper concern are the dangers to our democracy of so-called artificial intelligence (AI), which is in fact not artificial but human-trained machine intelligence, subject to all the biases of the humans who train these algorithms that now control much of our lives.
We assessed the computerizing of Wall Street with algorithmic and high-frequency trading, now showing up in flash crashes and daily rollercoaster volatility, in our report “Perspectives on Reforming Electronic Markets & Trading” (2015) (www.ethicalmarkets.com and www.unepinquiry.org) .
While specialized research and media organizations like ours can do much to assess these technologies, as we do in our annual Green Transition Scoreboard® reports, we must expect that our legislators will also properly commission their own Congressional research agencies and think tanks like OTA , to help them look before they leap into spending huge amounts of tax-payers’ funds on emerging technologies merely due to the lobbying efforts of their proponents .
For full disclosure, I served on OTA’s Technology Assessment Advisory Council (TAAC) from 1975 -1980.
Let’ begin by giving the 116th Congress a better brain!
~Hazel Henderson, Editor“
The Washington Post: Why is Congress so dumb? We dumped in-house experts, and now lobbyists think for us.
OTA goes down in history, unfortunately.