What the U.S. Needs Now: A Secretary of Technology

What the U.S. needs now is a Secretary of Technology. Technology is not only the largest industry in the U.S., but it is the largest industry in the world. In 2017, the S & P 500 closed at record highs, with over 35% of the gains attributed to the rise in tech stocks.

Today, technology is pervasive in every aspect of human existence. Active technology runs our businesses, telecommunications, utilities, transportation systems, state, local and federal governments, our military, our banks, our exchanges, our media outlets, our schools, and our healthcare. Public data is available at light speed from digital devices small enough to fit on your wrist.

But for all the good of the internet and technology’s advances, industrial espionage runs rampant and cyber threats effect everything from individual finances and identity theft to our country’s national security and everything in between. These threats are real, ever-present dangers to Americans and the American way of life. Virtually every digital medium in existence is susceptible to hacking and potential spying. Risk, therefore, is inherent in everything we search for on the internet, purchase through the web, post on social media, share on public sites, send via e-mail, and text. Every bit and byte of data that is entered into every application at every enterprise in every entity on the globe is hackable.

What the U.S. needs now is an effective leader, one who could successfully navigate the complex waters of the digital age and all the hazards that lurk below the surface. What the U.S. and the current administration needs now is a Secretary of Technology.

This important cabinet member should be selected by the President and ratified by a Senate majority. With clout, experience, and expertise, the U.S. Secretary of Technology would be in the powerful position to negotiate for the betterment of the country and its people with both domestic tech leadership and foreign government and private sector tech leaders alike. With an eye towards the future and the safety, security, and prosperity of the American people, this new cabinet position could enable short-term security for the country’s data, infrastructure, and labor paradigms while establishing a long-term, domestic vision for 21st America. The Secretary of Technology could advise the President and his Cabinet on technology as it relates to industrial espionage, cyber threats, quantum computing, data mining, anti-trust legislation, trade, national security, visa policy, and immigration.

Every U.S. Presidential administration wrestles with issues that threaten the very fabric of American existence. Dependence on foreign oil is akin to dependence on foreign tech labor, putting the nation’s ability to create its own destiny in the digital age at the mercy of foreign entities made rich by our dependence on their supply. Sending domestic manufacturing facilities overseas to improve profits at the expense of the nation’s economic security is the same as sending the tech industry offshore via H1B visa multipliers, outsourcers, and foreign captive tech labor which creates widespread American job loss, which in turn stresses the U.S. economy and diminishes the middle class.

To some, technology today, is as essential to life as food and water is essential to living. It is the complete and utter dependence, intrusion and manipulation of life as we know it, as well as the accommodations of lifestyle, speech, socialization, communication, and engagement that have been forever altered by the technology in our lives and our livelihoods. As a nation, as a human race, we are tied to the presence and advancement of technology.

As the World Bank Report describes — the mass adoption of connected digital services by consumers, enterprises, and governments — is a fundamental driver of economic growth and job creation all over the world. From an economics perspective, the tech industry, can be understood, therefore, as “the tide that lifts all boats.”

The United States desperately needs appropriate technology leadership that will counsel the President, his cabinet, educators, and private sector business leaders on the right path forward for America in the digital age.

America’s current Cabinet consists of the Vice President of the United States as well as the heads of 15 executive departments, including State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veteran Affairs, and Homeland Security.

As included in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, a Cabinet’s role is to advise the President; enabling the President to make good decisions when it comes to a domestic technology agenda and the global technology landscape is the best path forward to ensure successful outcomes. Isn’t it about time we centralized the leadership, authority, and responsibility of our nation’s technological future with the creation of a Secretary of Technology?

Hilarie T. Gamm is the author of Billions Lost: The American Tech Crisis and The Road Map to Change, available on Amazon.

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