That’s a facetious question based on the old misinterpretation that Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet (while running for President in 2000). The real question is what should the government invent next?
It’s a question that came to mind recently when some colleagues and myself were discussing the City of New York’s call for ideas for applications development. As you might expect (especially if you live in NYC) the majority of votes were for an iPhone application that would tell people when subways weren’t running on time. But it does lead to bigger questions about how government can actively encourage and fund innovation.
We often forget that IT WAS the US government who developed the basic structure for what would evolve in to today’s Internet. And as I recently posted, NASA has a long history of creating products that would later have significant consumer applications. And the current administration certainly understands the power of the Internet and Social Media.
So it’s surprising that we haven’t come up with some bigger and better ideas on how to use the US government’s vast resources to develop new technology that would benefit us all. The pieces are in place. For the first time ever we have a national CIO/CTO. And President Obama has already indicated his interest in digitizing healthcare documents and other outdated records keeping systems.
So why can’t we use some of that stimulus money to spur technology development? Personally, I would love to see government efforts devoted to taking our communications infrastructure to the next level. Improved 3G and 4G networks and underwriting of municipal wireless Internet access are two simple ways we could encourage business development and educational efforts. I’m sure there are plenty of talented technologists who could come up with ideas that would make a TED conference look unambitious?
What do you think? Where should the US government be spending its time and effort? What’s the next game changer they can help develop?