5 questions for Ed Markey

Welcome back to our regular Friday function: The future in five questions. Today we have Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Who sits on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, as well as its Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security. He reads on to hear his thoughts on the dangers of uncontrolled digital surveillance, innovations in clean energy, and the dangers of social media.

The answers have been modified for length and clarity.

What’s an underrated great idea?

geothermal energy. America’s clean energy future requires us to harness the power that is heat beneath our feet, just as it requires us to harness the powers of the sun, wind and water current. We have so much potential to produce abundant, clean energy here at home.

What is a technology that you think is overrated?

Internet-connected doorbells constantly record audio and video of our neighborhoods, capturing huge amounts of data and recording what audiences say and do. We shouldn’t pit privacy against security.

What is the book that has most shaped your conception of the future?

“The Mystery of the Flickering Torch”. The Hardy Boys find a radioactive engine in an airplane dump and an atomic mystery is unraveled. I remember reading the story as a child and thinking to myself: man shouldn’t have the divine power of the atom.

What could the government do about technology that isn’t?

Congress should take more seriously the potential harm social media has on our nation’s children. The least we can do is fund research into this harm and ensure that parents, teachers and doctors understand how platforms and their black box algorithms could impact the mental health of young people.

What surprised you the most this year?

Well, to be honest, I think a lot about how much of our future resembles our past. Access to abortion was first recognized as a fundamental and constitutional right nearly half a century ago. The far-right majority in the Supreme Court took it right away. Judge Thomas went so far as to suggest that the majority of him should overturn the decisions that supported the constitutional right to marry someone you love, to use birth control and so much more. It’s ridiculous and takes us back decades.

There is clear conventional wisdom about how nascent cryptocurrency policies work: Aggressive, pro-regulation Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) As opposed to a freedom-loving GOP, God-guns-and-Bitcoin.

It’s not that easy. Two major pieces of legislation, one proposed just this week from Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) And John Boozman (R-Ark.) Which would give the CFTC more power over cryptocurrency regulation and the broader bill introduced greater regulatory clarity in the sector from Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) Earlier this year were solidly bipartisan.

This week’s bill coincided with a particularly notable brush up on POLITIC’s Sam Sutton reported yesterday for Pro subscribers, on the growing anger of Congressional Republicans over crypto-skeptical SEC chairman Gary Gensler. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) Was particularly offended by the lack of clarity that remains about which cryptocurrencies are, or should be, classified as stocks, telling Sam that Gensler “is taking action, but is doing it selectively. “. Rep Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) Went even further by accusing the president of “cracking down on well-meaning companies” and said that if Republicans take control of Congress in November he hopes to “start keeping him under close scrutiny if it stays because I think it’s broken. “

Ouch. There are plenty of crypto-friendly Democrats on the hill, but high-profile squabbles like this one can make even a very new tech-politics issue seem like just another red-and-blue squabble.

Video games as a medium are now over half a century old at least, and an extremely profitable global industry to boot.

So it only makes sense that state powers incorporate them into America’s global media footprint, including an official game development team within the State Department’s Technology Engagement Team, which is releasing a browser-based game called ” Cat Park “aimed at vaccinating users against online disinformation.

Patricia Watts, director of the Technology Engagement Team, described to me how the principles of the game are based on “inoculation theory”: the idea that by educating people about common disinformation techniques, they will be better equipped to detect and reject it in nature.

Paul Fischer, the team’s senior technical advisor, explained the premise of the game: the player takes on the role of a “disinformation agent recruited in a dark social media pressure campaign” intended to fuel opposition to a public park. for cats. (How bad, right?)

“There is a market for disinformation on both the supply and demand sides,” Fischer said, saying his team “conceives[s] of games how to deal with the demand side. The previous match of the team, the one focused on the same “Harmony Square“has been played more than 150,000 times according to the State Department and bears a stamp of effectiveness from Harvard researchers. (“Cat Park” doesn’t have a release date yet.)

Fischer described how the team has its sights set on the next frontier of gaming as well: “VR will be another place of misinformation, so it will be up to industry leaders to understand what content moderation looks like in the metaverse,” he said.

Keep in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Constantine Kakaes ([email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us on Twitter @DigitalFuture.

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