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Innovate vs. Regulate: the Balancing Act (CES)

Jeff Hall

Posted on January 14, 2020 12:11

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Representatives of the U.S. Government were out in full force at CES, making clear they wanted to advance and maintain U.S. technological leadership. But there are legitimate regulatory concerns that must be taken into consideration, attendees were told. All sides got explored at CES.

If we could securely centralize healthcare records, significant taxpayer money could be saved. Blockchain could be employed to ensure the integrity of our elections. 

Transportation prototypes were in abundance at CES.

New forms of transportation can reduce gridlock.

And surely technology is important to the future of education -- and defense.

But are driverless cars really ready for prime time? Are our personal records really safe?  If robots eliminate huge numbers of jobs, what will we do with all the unemployed?

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) recently held in Las Vegas, representatives of the federal government made it clear innovation is a top priority.  Ivanka Trump and Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, gave keynote addresses.

Trump focused on job training programs; Secretary Chao said the government is fully behind innovation does not seek to over-regulate and slow progress.

In an interview with Nicholas Thompson, editor of Wired, US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios emphasized the need to maintain U.S. tech leadership -- and to keep a watchful eye on China, known for intellectual property theft and using technology in excessively authoritarian ways.

US CTO Michael Kratsios and Nicholas Thompson.

One member of the audience asked Kratsios if the government really understood what is going on, citing the fairly lame congressional questioning of Mark Zuckerberg a while back. Kratsios assured him the government was taking all this very seriously.

Thompson asked Kratsios if we will ever get to vote using our cellphones (a show of hands indicated this would be a hit).

The blockchain panel.

A panel on public policy issues, moderated by Nathan Trail of Consumer Technology Association (CTA), wrestled with regulatory oversight of blockchain and crypto – and the concern that the U.S. was falling behind other countries when it came to these technologies. Representatives of government, Intel and the Global Blockchain Business Council participated.

Pennsylvania House Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, a new commissioner with the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.

The federal government set up exhibition booths explaining programs designed to help innovators.  Check out Small Business Innovation Research (, Select USA Tech (, National Science Foundation Innovation Corps ( and US Patent and Trademark Office (see

Here is a small fraction of what was on display at CES:

·      The World Bank Group issued a CES Global Tech Challenge for those wanting to tackle health issues in East Africa (see

· displayed the BeachBot, which picks up cigarette butts and other trash from beaches (a municipal function).


·      MoDesk is in discussions with Homeland Security about supplying portable laptop desks governmental officials can use to more quickly process immigrants entering into the U.S. at our borders (see

The MoDesk.

·      Kyle Vanderlugt of is working on an interactive platform where people can gather online and discuss public policy issues.

Twitter chief product officer Kayvon Beykpour (r) discussed recent announcements intended to improve civil dialogue on that platform.

The public policy questions remain plentiful. So too, the flow of new ideas.

"Smart City" software.
Jeff Hall

Posted on January 14, 2020 12:11


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