The Supreme Court of Technology

The Founding Fathers got it right with three branches: legislative to make laws; judicial to interpret laws; and executive to enforce them. Back then it was all about laws, and the system worked.

What the Founding Fathers could not realize was there was a powerful, pre-chrysalis force more powerful than laws, whose metamorphosis would exploit a gap in the three branch system. Technology has become a force more powerful than laws, and needs its own branch of government. We need a Supreme Court of Technology. (Think Ph.D. instead of J.D.)

Technology is the underpinning of a sustainable economy, an economy where citizens are well-educated, healthy, and happy, and where infrastructure is safe and supports the citizens’ needs. For countries that have it, technology generates the wealth to pay for education, healthcare, and bridges. Back then it was laws; today it’s technology.

The Founding Fathers knew interpretation of laws demanded consistency, consistency that transcended the election cycle, and, with its lifetime appointment, the Supreme Court was the mechanism. And it’s the same with technology: technology demands consistency of direction and consistency of purpose, and for that reason I propose a Supreme Court of Technology.

The Chief Justice of Technology and her Associate Justices set the long term technology policy for the country. They can be derided for its long time horizon, but they cannot be ousted for making the right decisions or their consistency of purpose. The Justices decide how to best spend their annual budget, which is substantial and adjusts with inflation and population. Since they are appointed for life, the Justices tell Congress how it goes with technology (and to stop with all this gridlock gamesmanship) and ask the President for her plan to implement the country’s technology policy. (Technology transcends political parties and election cycles.)

With the Supreme Court of Technology appointed and their first technology plan in place (think environment and energy), the country is on track to generate wealth sufficient to build the best educational system in the world (think creativity, art, science, math, and problem solving) to fuel the next generation of technology leadership.

7 Responses to “The Supreme Court of Technology”

  • Matt Miles:

    Mike, another good thought this week and…..excellent choice for the picture!

  • Ken Krepel:

    This idea suggests that the government should control the funding of technology. I do not agree. I believe that the market and respective businesses should control funding of technology. It’s o.k. that the U.S. government provides tax incentives and seed money to jump start some technologies. Often this money is wasted by guessing the wrong technology for the problem/solution. But as long as it is small change this isn’t bad.

    Mike’s idea suggests a takeover of funding decisions and growth of technolgy funding by the government. This will lead to more of the government telling the companies how to spend their money and what to develop. A bad idea as exemplified by the USSR and communist China (until the U.S. showed China a better way in the ’70s)

    I think the idea could use some refinement.

  • Dave R:

    Mike: I love the way you think – we need more creative people producing more ideas, so you are a good start. I hope you will allow me the leeway to shoot a few holes in the idea.

    The constitution was set up to allow change at a human pace. Because there is no knowing what the real consequences of any given technology will be at first, any attempt to accelerate technology introduction will result in more large-magnitude consequences than we currently have.

    An obvious example of my counter-argument is the use of oil as an energy source and global warming as the unintended consequence. Would your new branch of government also eliminate oil as a legal technology in a timely fashion, rather than allowing misinformation and commercial self-interest to continue the devastation?

    As another example, we are confronting the consequences of some recent food technologies in the plague of Diabetes and obesity (and other dietary-induced illnesses). We have not even identified the real culprits, although the medical community has its suspicions; the agricultural products and large food companies have a strong vested interest in the facts still remaining in question, just as the oil companies do in the global warming pseudo-debate.

    An example of “the jury is still out” technology that could have devastating consequences is the widespread use of Genetically Modified crops and livestock. We have not seen any unintended consequences from these, but then humans haven’t been eating them for multiple generations, so any changes that they cause have not shown themselves.

    We don’t need more technologies being pushed out prematurely when we have failed so miserably to deal with the unintended consequences of our current ones. Any new technology-oriented government functions need to be able to take the control of the technologies away from the profit-only crowd and encourage the technologies that actually help with the broader needs of humanity. We don’t need more technology cheerleaders, we need more thought going into how we use the technologies we develop, as well as how we prevent problems from happening, and repair the damage from the unintended consequences.

  • Mike:

    Thanks, Ken, for your thoughts. I’m happy we are discussing the importance of technology from all perspectives. We need more of that. Mike

  • Mike:

    Dave, wonderful perspective. Thank you.

    I don’t want agreement on all fronts. In fact, there is more learning for me when we respectfully compare and contrast our thinking.

    I think technology is becoming ever more powerful and we must be careful because it always comes with both benefits and problems.

    Keep the comments coming! Mike

  • Mike:

    Thanks, Matt. I’m happy you recognized the Hall of Justice —

  • Joseph:

    Dear Mike

    The technology as such does not solve the problem of human kind. It only shifts problem from one region to another. Or towards future generation. Money generated by usage of technology comes from the expense of those who are not using the technology. Or it can come in the expense of (problems to) future generation.

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