Why is Tech Important?

Because Whichever Country Wins the Competition for Global Leadership in Advanced Technology Will Dominate the Rest of this Century

Jan 17, 2022. | By Will Hurd

Typewriter - Why is tech importantly Will Hurd
My trusty Brother Opus 885 Typewriter 

4 min read

I got a Commodore 64 computer in 1985 when I was eight years old. My Uncle Steve was upgrading to a Commodore 128 so he gave my brother, sister and me his old computer. I spent a lot of time playing Oregon Trail on that computer, but when it inevitably broke down I would have to go real old school and use a typewriter to do my homework when I was in middle school. Yes, I said a typewriter.  

I whipped that typewriter out recently as a prop during a speech for a bunch of high school students. I dramatically unzipped its carrying case to reveal the relic, and I proclaimed that I had actually used this piece of technology in the 80s and that it was now obsolete. With another dramatic flourish, I pulled my cell phone from my coat pocket and asked the kids to imagine the future world in which my high-end smartphone was going to be obsolete.  

The technological explosion we will see in the next few decades is going to make the technological change of the last 48 years – since the introduction of the personal computer – look insignificant. This fact should matter to all Americans, because our economy, way of life, and success as a nation have been based on America being the global leader in advanced technology since the end of the Second World War. However, maintaining this position is no longer guaranteed.

Being able to have access to the latest and greatest technology that makes our life easier or more pleasurable is great. So is the ability of our kids and grandkids to be able to earn a really good salary working for the fastest growing companies that pay the highest salaries. It’s good for us to have our retirement accounts grow because they are being invested in the stocks of American technology companies that are powering the explosive growth of the stock market.

Why is tech important? Because if we want to continue to benefit from these current realities and keep this century the American Century, then America and our allies are going to have to work together to win the New Cold War with the Chinese Government to be the global leaders in technologies like artificial intelligence,bioengineering and quantum computing.

  • Here is a quick artificial intelligence 101 -- It’s software that can react in human-like ways in areas like visual perception, speech recognition and pattern recognition, that will allow humans to live longer and healthier lives, nations to be safer and more secure, and our natural resources to be used more efficiently.

  • The best Bioengineering definition I’ve ever heard is that it’s programming DNA the way a person would program a computer, but instead of 1s and 0s you use the As, Cs, Gs, and Ts of the genetic code to produce biologics that can prevent disease, new materials that can heal the body, and methodologies to prevent plants from going extinct.

  • Explaining quantum computing requires talking about how subatomic particles work.  Instead of bits that are either 1 or 0 (on or off),  quantum computers use qubits that can be in a state called “superposition” – where they’re both on and off at the same time, or somewhere on a spectrum between the two. Quantum computers will also be able to do a  thing called “entanglement” -- linking two particles, even if they’re physically separate. This sounds like magic, but managing superposition and entanglement will allow us to solve problems regular computers would take millions of years to solve.like building better batteries, reducing traffic in our cities, and designing new cures for deadly diseases.


Artificial intelligence 101 William Hurd
Britain's Engineered Arts' humanoid robot Ameca at CES 2022

I spend a whole section of my upcoming book American Reboot (pre-order here) talking about these technologies and others like space and 5G, because just like the steam engine, assembly line, cars, planes, and the Internet - the industrial revolution inventions of previous centuries that dramatically changed the world and its leadership - so too will these technologies of the 21st Century. 

If our adversaries master these technologies first, and their versions of these tools become the global standard, then they will have the ability to do things from extending authoritarian abuses like curbing free speech and restricting civil liberties of their own citizens, to unlocking secrets like our personal financial or health records, corporate research projects, or even classified government intelligence.

Taking advantage of technology before it takes advantage of us will require the public and private sectors to understand our main competitor - the Chinese Communist Party - and work together to achieve game-changing breakthroughs, as we did in the 1940s with the Manhattan Project. In two weeks we will talk about how that will also require a foreign policy that makes our enemies fear us and our friends love us. 

For another Artificial Intelligence 101 click here

For a great article explaining quantum computing click here

For another good bioengineering definition click here

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