You know when I mentioned that Ted Lieu was NOT the most “foolish, dumb, frightening” member of Congress? Steve King was one of the people I was thinking of.
In case you haven’t heard the widespread mockery, King asked Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai at this week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing about alleged bias and abuse of power by the tech behemoth,
“I have a 7-year old granddaughter who picked up her phone during the election, and she’s playing a little game, the kind of game a kid would play. And up on there pops a picture of her grandfather. And I’m not going to say into the record what kind of language was used around that picture of her grandfather, but I’d ask you: How does that show up on a 7-year old’s iPhone, who’s playing a kid’s game?”
Pichai responded, “Congressman, the iPhone is made by a different company.”
Kindly leaving out the obligatory, “You moron.”
To be fair, most of the GOP reps were little better, and raised the question of how Congress could possibly regulate the tech giants when they don’t have the foggiest idea of what they do, with what, and how. This casual, lazy ignorance of technology—which, you recall, is one of the reasons Hillary Clinton got off the hook for her email mistakes <cough>—provides the big technology companies near <cough> irresistible temptation to engage in mischief by giving them immense power and license to abuse it, since nobody is paying attention. Libertarian centers like Reason mock the whole idea of regulating the tech giants, because they are private entities. So what if they effectively hobble the communication and advocacy of one whole side of the political spectrum? Who cares if they slant searches, or censor messages? They don’t have to respect freedom of speech! The market will handle it!
Sure it will.
Meanwhile, the Left’s media and web mouthpieces mock the very idea that Google, where employees raised the option of aggressively changing the search algorithms to block Trump and Republicans, and where a programmer was fired for even raising the issue of biases within the company, would respond to its own culture and work to advance ideological goals rather than provide objective and unbiased service to everyone. The Left does this for the same reason it denies that there is overwhelming mainstream media bias: the Big Tech bias is in their favor. In the same hearing, Rep. Ted Lieu said those accusing Google of bias were wasting everyone’s time, since it’s a private company and can do as it pleases. Right Ted: just like gun companies, energy companies, nuclear power companies and automobile manufacturers.
Nonetheless, incompetent regulation is worse than no regulation at all, and our elected officials show no indication they understand what they are complaining about, or, worse, that they are inclined to learn enough to understand. Technology is the fastest moving, ethically gray, powerful and influential force in modern life, and the average elected official knows less about it than the average 12th grader. Imagine the arrogance and sloth of someone like King, knowing he is going to question a Big Tech CEO and not bothering to become minimally conversant in the subject at hand.
Now imagine that he keeps getting elected, because he does. Incompetent officials depend on incompetent citizens.