Today I had to take care of a small errand and was struck by the inefficiency with which government works:
- Before walking in the door, I couldn’t figure out which instructions applied to me. I could barely even find them on the website.
- The appointment system was telephone-based, a frustrating waste of time.
- Once in the appointment all the forms were paper-based and an ink signature was required.
I am familiar with the government tendency to resist change and avoid new technology until it’s absolutely impossible to ignore it.
- Nobody wants to take a risk and get into trouble.
- Nobody wants to get automated out of a job.
- Nobody wants to collaborate if that means losing their power.
These are natural human tendencies and I totally understand them. But they’re not productive for our society. In the example above:
- Hw much time is going to get wasted manually reviewing and transferring the paper data to a computer system?
- How many dead PDFs are we going to create and then try to integrate into a database system down the road?
- How many records will we generate now, only to be completely befuddled later as to what matters and what doesn’t?
- Automation will end most demand for human labor – manual, administrative, even customer service.
- The end of jobs will trigger a corresponding rise in need for social services.
- True competition will become impossible in an economy controlled by the wealthy and powerful few.
- Interconnected, integrated, interoperable, easily accessed Big Data will eradicate the possibility of privacy.
- Small terrorist cells with dangerous weapons will finally be taken seriously for the grave threat they pose.
- Get ahead of the curve and stop reacting defensively. The risk of not acting is bigger than the risk of the status quo.
- Stop quibbling over details and unite around a broadly shared vision of progress. Nobody wins with all the divisiveness.
- Use commercial, off-the-shelf technology to the maximum extent possible. There is no excuse to be dragging our feet on this.
- Protect civil rights, dissent and privacy; promote transparency; form fully independent external bodies to regulate the regulators.
- Incorporate strong security practices into everything we do. There are a lot of people who want to foment and take advantage of chaos, to steal our freedom and our lives along with it.
- To rebalance major power inequities and promote national competitiveness through a whole-of-society approach to the major issues that confront us.
- To protect people’s rights and make sure that vulnerable populations are supported.
- To maintain social order and prevent chaos from breaking out.