“The Future of Tech Is Here. Congress Isn’t Ready for It”
WIRED, January 7, 2022
By Lily Hay Newman
Interview by Brian Barrett, Executive Editor, WIRED
“In a conversation with WIRED, former representative Will Hurd talked AI, the metaverse, China, and how ill-prepared legislators are to grapple with any of it. ”
“There are still many senators that don’t even use email—if you don’t even use email how are you going to understand some of these other tools? We need folks that are running for office that understand these things.”
That was the call from Will Hurd, former congressperson and author of the upcoming American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done, during WIRED’s virtual CES HQ on Wednesday. Hurd advocated for cybersecurity, privacy, and responsible AI issues during his congressional tenure from 2015 to 2021. And in conversation with WIRED this week, he emphasized the need for the US government and state and local legislatures across the country to sharpen their understanding of the role of technology as misinformation, data abuse, and emerging technologies like AI become increasingly influential in domestic affairs and geopolitics.
One year after the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, Hurd says the US is no more prepared than it was 12 months ago to deal with the ways that misinformation spreads on social media platforms and foments violence.
“I don’t think we’re better prepared to prevent that kind of insurrection from happening, and we’re not better prepared to deal with one if it does happen,” he told WIRED. “When it comes to Congress looking at and providing insights on how these tools should be used, we haven’t seen much evolve from there. It’s too much of a partisan fight. … We haven’t been able to have a sober conversation about how these tools are being used to radicalize people.”
Hurd argued that platforms need to continue expanding their community standards and enforcement policies. He discussed the importance of developing clear, fair liability policies, perhaps similar to standards for journalists and television networks. And he emphasized the challenge in the US of dealing with misinformation and conspiracy theories now that they have captured so much of the public discourse.
About the Author:
Lily Hay Newman is a senior writer at WIRED focused on information security, digital privacy, and hacking. She previously worked as a technology reporter at Slate magazine and was the staff writer for Future Tense, a publication and project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University. Additionally her work has appeared in Gizmodo, Fast Company, IEEE Spectrum, and Popular Mechanics. She lives in New York City.
- “American Reboot: An idealist’s guide to getting big things done” by Will Hurd. Published by Simon & Schuster, February, 2022.
[Webmaster’s Note: This book does not focus on technology per se. I include it here for the reader’s interest in relation to the Wired discussion “CTRL ALT DEL—Rebooting the Role of Technology in Geo-Politics.”]
- Watch the discussion: