By: Sal Nuzzo
In 2002, I went with friends to see the latest Tom Cruise movie to be released – the science fiction film Minority Report. Having been a Steven Spielberg fan all my life (Jaws kept me out of the ocean for most of my youth), I can remember thinking that it wasn’t my favorite of his films because it seemed, at the time, a bit unrealistic in parts. Billboards that target me with ads as I drive past them? Anticipating who is going to commit a crime and stopping it before it happens? A bit much for my taste.
Welcome to that future. I recently did an Internet search for a specific type of lightbulb – someone in conversation mentioned it in passing and I wanted to see what an “Edison bulb” looked like (so I didn’t appear dumb). Now…my social media feeds are chock full of ads from home goods stores that carry them, and home décor retailers showing me all the lamps and lighting solutions I can purchase for the bulb. All because I looked up a photo of an Edison bulb on a specific search engine (which will go unnamed but rhymes with “moogle”).
Whether we want to accept it or not – whether we need the Edison bulb or not, technology and telecommunications will continue to be an ever-increasing element of our lives in the years ahead. From the moment we open our eyes each morning until the moment we fall asleep – in fact even while we sleep – our lives are impacted by the innovations of technology disruption that has taken place over the past 20 years.
Growing up I remember being told that I shouldn’t talk with strangers and I should never ever get into a stranger’s car – under any circumstances. Now, hardly a week goes by when I am not only getting into a stranger’s car but paying them a few bucks to take me somewhere – and I feel safe because a bunch of other people have done the same and “rated” the person for me. If that’s a bit too inconvenient, I can find an electric scooter that will track my usage and charge a buck or two directly to my credit card. Don’t worry about what to do when I’m done – just leave the scooter wherever I like and someone else will grab it.
My streaming services track what I watch and give me really good recommendations. I like this feature quite a bit. What else do they do with the data on my viewing habits? I have no idea, but I am going to go out on a limb and suggest it’s making someone money. Is that good or bad? The answer is almost certainly, “well it depends.”
These are among the plethora of questions that policy makers and regulators are having to tackle, right here in the present.
We are blessed with a wonderful group of citizens who come to Tallahassee to serve in our citizen Legislature. They come from all walks of life, from all demographic backgrounds, and they all truly possess the best intentions of service to their constituents and the State. At the same time, over the course of a 60-day legislative session their ability to digest, discern, and develop sound policy will be limited. It is our hope that the Technology and Telecommunications Policy Center at JMI will be a robust resource to help guide them and the public in the issues facing the Sunshine State.
We are a dynamic state – growing at more than 1,000 new residents every day. With a more than $1 trillion economy and a diverse workforce, the issues facing Florida in these areas will have ripple effects throughout the United States. Florida has been a leader in other policy efforts – from education choice to tax policy – and it is our mission to work with technology and telecommunications policy experts from around the United States to harness a conservative vision into policy success.
Sal Nuzzo is the Vice President of Policy at The James Madison Institute.