This morning, tech business leaders and government officials will be meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss how incorporating technology into our voting process, government systems, and more, can positively affect the future of our government. Simultaneously, another organization took center stage to bring change to Washington. DisruptDC‘s official launch could bring that future much closer than anyone was expecting.
What is the White House American Technology Council?
On May 1, President Trump organized the White House American Technology Council, which will be led by his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The council consists of government officials, including the U.S. chief technology officer, while Kushner sits as the council’s senior advisor.
After initiating the council with an executive order, eleven large companies were invited to the summit planned for early next week. Among the expected attendees are Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and a few more big names in tech.
The summit is expected to include multiple sessions to cover cloud computing and more. There will also be focus on jobs, trade, and immigration. So if all of these tech execs are meeting with our government leaders, what could happen with the future of our government if we introduce technology into more aspects of it? That’s where DisruptDC comes in.
Who is this new organization?
DisruptDC is made up of three key players who all have the same idea and are working hard to bring it to light. President and CEO Charlie Kolb is a former presidential appointee who worked in both the Reagan and Bush administrations when he sat as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy from ’90 to ’92. Kolb also worked alongside others in Washington to pass the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002.
The idea of DisruptDC came from two technologists in California, Sarah Bonk and Chris Catterton. Catterton is a former consultant for startups and was also a member of Consciousness Hacking, a company “with the intention of sparking a community of makers who are focused on exploring and building new technologies for human flourishing.”
Sarah Bonk, who I had the pleasure of speaking to and learning from, spent fourteen years as senior design manager for Apple.com before she left to pursue DisruptDC. Bonk came up with the concept while working pro bono for nonpartisan political reform organizations. “We are focused on elections, policy making process and how the rules are being shaped,” she told me.
How can DisruptDC make a difference?
Unlink many other organizations who are focused on reform from either side of the aisle, Bonk is proud to say that DisruptDC is nonpartisan and is taking on the inadequacies in government processes as a whole. She says that by remaining nonpartisan, if technology becomes a vital part of how our government works in the future, it could work under any party because it’s for the people.
As we all know, corporations have had an influence in politics for quite some time. DisruptDC believes that businesses and large corporations can work with our government without having too much power, though. In their opinion, there is definitely a happy medium if everyone is willing to hear. “We put a robot on Mars, surely we can have elections that are secure,” says Bonk.
One other key way DisruptDC wants to take action is through our elections. There needs to be a way we can all participate in democracy without being worried about outside interference, inaccuracy, or other things that threaten the future of our country. That’s where technology can make a difference in a very positive way.
“By ensuring that every qualified citizen who wants to vote is able to vote (and those who are ineligible do not), we can increase civic engagement. By ensuring we have accurate, fully auditable results, we can rebuild public trust. And by making it a better experience to run for office, we can attract the qualified candidates who are currently deterred from getting involved in public life,” says the organization.
What does the future have in store?
With the American Technology Council summit and DisruptDC kicking off simultaneously on Monday, there will no doubt be a lot of attention on both. I firmly believe DisruptDC has a key opportunity to get noticed, speak their piece, and execute their plan accordingly – disrupting Washington, D.C. with We The People as a priority.
I’m anxiously waiting to see what the future holds for DisruptDC and how technology will affect the way our government operates during elections, with big business, and even more. To keep up with DisruptDC’s progress, check out their website and follow them on Twitter.