Chris Klein - Manifesto

1. Advances in technology should strive to make us better humans, as well as achieving simplicity.

Interestingly enough, we haven’t really had issues with this until the past decade or so. While making our lives “easier”, so to speak, we’re also becoming a lazier population. We’re in a transitional period where forms of communication or become more important, while others are becoming more obsolete. It’s hard to predict where one technological invention might take us as oppose to another. So instead of labeling technology that makes something “easier” for us as bad, we should strive to make sure it betters us in some way. If technology is simply made to make life easy, it should have at least some positive correlation to a better lifestyle. Adopting this principle for the user will be much easier than for manufacturers who are driven by profit. If you come upon a technology that’s only positive seems to be saving time, then do something worthwhile with the time you save. We will be a better population as a whole if we start to use the advantages of technology to do worthwhile things instead of just tacking on more free time.

2. No employer, insurance agency, or other organization may bias based on genetic makeup.

This isn’t necessarily a problem that we currently have to worry about, as the processes of genetic modification and testing it, are expensive and not adopted by many. There also aren’t too many advantages to genetic modification either… yet. In the future, as genetics become more relevant, it will be important to prohibit biases based on one’s genetic makeup. There are outlying variables that create a “person” and creating an opinion based on the hardware, so to speak, is not fair to anyone. The easiest way to adopt this is through government action. It’s highly unlikely that our Congress would spend any time on it at the moment or near future, but preemptive laws will be necessary to prevent confusion. We don’t want the same scenario we’re having with broadcasting technologies and the internet – deadlock.

3. Internet Content Providers may not sell or give away sensitive personal information without explicit consent by the user beyond the EULA.

There are still debates going on about the effectiveness of the End User License Agreement. These are the “I agree” forms that you must submit before using almost any piece of software or signing up for any website. Very rarely does anyone actually read the agreement and even if they do, cannot decipher the heavy law jargon. Many companies have been known to abuse the EULA. For instance, Apple has a clause in the iTunes EULA that says you may not use the software to manufacture nuclear arms. While it (hopefully) was placed in as a joke, it just goes to show that there isn’t much of a point to EULA’s. It then becomes important to supplant the power they have with explicit permissions. Facebook’s EULA could say that they have the right to use your personal information in any manner they see fit. Once you’ve hit agree, depending on the court, you have no right to any information you place on Facebook. Once again, adopting this would require political action.

4. Access to “the network” should be cheap (Europe cheap).

This isn’t just a want, it’s a necessary. The Cell Phone and Internet are two pieces of technology that most Americans can literally not get by without. Many businesses buy their employees cell phones if they do not have them because they must be on call. Even so, prices for both the internet and cell phones are at extreme highs in the United States. There are certainly economic reasons. It costs a substantial amount of money to lay communication lines across such a vast amount of land. However, most of the large cable is there. Cell phone towers cover much of the continent. Still, prices are rising. We still have to pay for texting, even though it doesn’t cost cell phone companies a single penny more. We’re paying for virtually nothing. In Europe, prices are extremely cheap and companies more open. Nearly everyone has access to high-speed internet and cell phones are cheap and disposable. In order for our country to become a stronger technology developer, we need subsidize communications. Write your state politician.

5. Internet Service Providers may not filter content, throttle bandwidth, or give government agencies personal information without warrant. (Net Neutrality)

Today, Thursday the 10th, Congressional Republicans are voting to repeal the Net Neutrality Act. While it is unlikely this will happen (President Obama has vowed to repeal such a measure), it just goes to show that this will continue to be an issue in the future. We know the internet as the “wild west” of information. You can access pretty much everything on the web if you’re feeling adventurous. The companies that offer Internet feel that they should have the right to govern what content you view since they own the lines running into your house. Usually, this is just to prevent you from accessing illegal content – running torrent programs to gain access to illegal copies of music, movies, and software. Some have gone a step further and have staged trial runs of tiered pricing options that allow access to certain levels of content. They’ve also willingly handed out personal information and IP logs to the government under the Patriot Act. Part of me agrees that companies do have the right to control the content running through their “pipes” to your house – under current law. However, what makes the internet the wonder that it is, is cheap access to almost any form of information you can think of. As soon as corporate America steps in, this will inevitably change. It’s extremely important that we keep the internet an open source of access for everyone and we protect the rights of those who use it. Else the internet will no longer be the internet.

6. All high schools will require students to take at least one typing course and one technology oriented course.

Oddly enough, this hasn’t been accepted nationwide quite yet – especially the typing course. Sure, many students will groan at this and say, “But I’m to be an actor! Why must I learn such follies?” To that I say, our school systems are meant to prepare our children for the working world (and babysit them). What good are we doing if we send students out unprepared? Almost every job requires experience with computers. They have become the tool of choice in every business. I have friends who work in wildlife services, one of the most natural areas of science. Yet they still have to come back to the lab to enter data in on a computer. My mother is a pre-school teacher, but she still has to communicate via email with faculty and is required to submit lesson plans in Word form. The first simple step to prepping the student population is giving them the most basic skill set that will pay off in the long run. They should be able to type a decent pace and use Office and navigate operating systems. Many assume that our generation just knows these things because we use them anyways. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many have a very basic understanding, but a simple class would go a long ways. Once again, this is something that would have to be appealed to local governments and school boards.