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Very few elected officials in America have professional training in science or technology. This disconnect drastically inhibits the effective governance of science and technology. One only needs to read the article written by Emily Badger updated on May 3, 2017, “SOPA Debate Highlights Congress’s Ignorance” for the Pacific Standard.  The article depicts how congress mostly non tech savvy 70-year old’s debated a Stop Online Piracy Act which most of them knew nothing about and where proud to tout that fact of their ignorance. How can people sit and be the judge of subject matters they know nothing about? How is that even close to making an informed decision.

I do think that the American government would be substantially different if most senators and congresspersons previously worked and scientists or engineers instead of lawyers, as is the case today? Congress is often said to be a do-nothing body of our government. They are often bogged down in debate as lawyers are programmed to do. Congress rarely enacts any meaningful legislation or advances our societal needs. Scientists and engineers are predisposed to systematically accomplishing things. The are wired to achieve results. Results in congress for the betterment of our society would be a nice thing to occur. Making it a requirement for our current congressmen to serve on science and technology committees would benefit them tremendously. They would be imparted with some knowledge so they could make better decisions that effect the entire country.

An example of a piece of legislation that was wrongly founded on the misunderstanding of basic science and technology is the one regarding SOPA. It didn’t pass but there still are attempts at the same types of legislation being put forth in congress.  The SOPA act (Stop Online Piracy Act) and its intent was well intended but by congress ignorance as the end result would have been the exact opposite of the act’s purpose. The passage of the act would have compromised the fundamental Internet infrastructure and undermined the security of the net. The act tried to address means to censorship but in fact what those in congress don’t know is that Censorship of Internet infrastructure will inevitably cause network errors and security problems.  That any type of censorship whether censorship is implemented via the DNS, proxies, firewalls, or any other method just won’t work. That the types of network errors and insecurity that are wrestled with every day will become more widespread and will affect sites other than those blacklisted by the American government -via a SOPA passage.

Our country’s approach and ignorance has affected our country’s rank in science and technological development currently and will continue to do so on into the future, this model of model of governance should change. What would it hurt to have experts in this country weigh in on their areas of expertise? Would you go to a automotive technician for brain surgery or vise versa if you needed your motor rebuilt? It is getting old seeing people weigh in on subject matters that they know little or nothing about.

Reference

Badger, E. (2011). SOPA Debate Highlights Congress’s Ignorance. Pacific Standard (Links to an external site.) Retrieved from https://psmag.com/news/sopa-debate-highlights-congresss-ignorance-38666 (Links to an external site.)

(boingboing, 2011) Internet Engineers to Congress SOPA censorship will Harm Internet Security Retrieved from https://boingboing.net/2011/12/15/internet-engineers-to-congress.html