Yesterday, I received an email directly from Barack Obama thanking me for my service to this great country. It’s the kind of email that I always knew I was destined to receive. It’s also the kind of email that thousands of other Americans have received. A boilerplate form letter that wasn’t evenly personalized to me and made no mention whatsoever of the issue that I had written about. Here’ a copy of that letter, which he didn’t even bother to sign:
When I posted that message on Facebook everyone immediately had the same response: what did I write to him? In short, I pitched him on the idea of creating a cabinet level Secretary of the Future who would advise the President on matters of great technological importance. Ideally, this new Secretary of the Future would have been me but I would have settled for just creating the position at all. Here’s what I wrote to the Commander in Chief:
Dear President Obama,
As your tenure as President winds down and you begin to look toward your future I’d like to urge you to also look toward the past. Specifically, to 1995 when the Office of Technology Assessment was shuttered after a twenty three year run. I’m not sure why this congressional office closed. Perhaps it was for budgetary reasons or political ones. But in any event I think it’s time that we brought back this office and also fulfilled famed futurist Alvin Toffler’s dream for a cabinet level Secretary of the Future.
Now more than ever it’s vital that we have forward looking politicians. People in positions of power who understand the important role that science and technology can play in building a vibrant society. People who understand the science behind climate change, who are open minded when it comes to the promise offered by Artificial Intelligence and DNA editing. In short, we need people who are going to embrace innovation, not fear it. Having futurists on board will help with that endeavor.
In addition to advising political leaders and lobbying Congress for regulations that would ease in technological change (e.g. new driverless cars rules) the Office of Technology Assessment would also interact with the public, teaching citizens the importance of future thinking. Futurism could become one of the staples of a collegiate liberal arts education while a travelling mini World’s Fair could move around the country showcasing all of the latest ideas and inventions to people from all walks of life. As a people we’d fully understand that the future that we want is within reach and that we have the power to shape it. And we’d all be better off for it. After all, the best way to predict the future is to create it.
And with your help we can do just that. You have already left behind a tremendous legacy that history will look upon very favorably. From healthcare reform and marriage equality to the Iranian nuclear arms deal and killing Osama Bin Laden you have achieved a great deal that has put this great country in a better position than it was eight years ago. But there is still more work to be done. More innovations that are needed. More reforms that are required. Who better to carry on your legacy than a forward thinking leader who will always be motivated to do what’s best for our future and for our children’s future.
Thank you for your time,
I’d like to think that after writing a letter of that caliber that I would have been invited to the White House to mingle with world leaders and spend a night in the Lincoln bedroom where I’d pretend to sleep while snooping around looking for hidden passageways and evidence that Area 51 really does house aliens. But alas, it was not to be. All I got for my trouble was a generic form letter. I guess you really can’t fight City Hall. Or the White House for that matter.
Is Alvin Toffler’s idea for a cabinet level Secretary of the Future the Greatest Idea Ever?