The government needs brilliant minds reinventing it with the same urgency they use to create apps and nano-bots. How the tech world stole America’s biggest thinkers.
They’re working for Google or Facebook, or they’re founding start-ups to build the world’s first flying car—or bioengineering super cells to repair injured brains.
What they are not doing is devising new and creative ways to improve the body politic. For many of our best and brightest, government these days feels obsolete. Politics is creaky and dysfunctional, or is something they seldom think about.
President Barack Obama has drawn some creative thinkers to the White House. These include Megan Smith, who left Google last fall to become the nation’s chief technology officer, and former Facebook engineering director David Recordon who became director of White House information technology.
Most brainiacs, however, head for Silicon Valley in the Bay Area, Kendall Square in Cambridge, and dozens of other places that are not on the Potomac River. Even those engaged in the White House and elsewhere tend to be focused on technology and not on rebooting politics for the 21st century.
Possibly the arrival of more cool kids in D.C.—particularly in Congress—will make government and political theory fashionable again, like it was in the late 1700s and early 1960s. Hip or not, it would be smart for our greatest minds to look up now and then from building drones and cancer-killing nanobots so that the peanuts in government can be moved perhaps an inch or two.
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