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Let's Keep U.S. Technology Policy Sensible And Bipartisan

With the 2018 midterm elections behind us, voters decided that Capitol Hill will return to two-party rule. These situations can spell gridlock with little to no expectation for major legislation making it to the President's desk-or political opportunity.

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*Featured in Forbes, Roslyn Layton

With the 2018 midterm elections behind us, voters decided that Capitol Hill will return to two-party rule. These situations can spell gridlock with little to no expectation for major legislation making it to the President's desk-or political opportunity. In fact, far more potential exists between the two political parties on comprehensive technology policy than may be realized or admitted, leaving the door open to legislative achievements in 2019 that would enjoy broad political consensus and voter support.

There has perhaps been no issue more contentious in the technology landscape over the last decade than the concept of "net neutrality". Many Americans and businesses today share in the belief that an open and free internet is critical to improved quality of life, economic opportunity and social justice. They're right, and Congress has an obligation to craft bipartisan legislation that would preserve these fundamental values and ensure our internet is accessible by all and a continued catalyst to historic 21 st Century innovation.

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Unfortunately, there remain groups motivated by other interests. Under the guise of activism, some groups have latched on to the confusing and controversial topic of net neutrality to drive fundraising, and they will go as far as disrupting meaningful legislative opportunities by organizing over-the-top stunts and sowing polarization and inaction on the issue. A case in point is today's "Day of Action", yet another political manipulation by telling people "to flood members of Congress with 7 advocacy correspondence" - much of which includes verbatim language crafted by the sophisticated, well-funded organizations behind the effort.

Rather than promoting sensible internet protections through legislation (the way 50 nations of the world have already done), these groups champion increasingly extreme, public-utility-style regulations born out of Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. Messages generated by the "Day of Action" not only contribute to the paralysis of Congress by further polarizing representatives; they also push excessive regulations like Title II (note: not net neutrality, like many argue) that compromise investment and harm the American innovation that we should be protecting. Indeed the rules and statutes they advocate do not even contain the term "net neutrality".

Going into the midterm elections, perhaps the biggest champion of Title II in the House of Representatives was Congressman Mike Doyle who introduced a procedure known as a Congressional Review Act (CRA) that would attempt to restore outdated Title II regulations. But, with the vitriolic midterms over and political realities settling back into place, Rep. Doyle admitted earlier this month that his resolution, "just doesn't have the kind of the push it would need to get us over the top" and that "[...] this lame duck's going to be dealing with a lot of things that are probably going to take precedence."

Rep. Doyle's CRA resolution needs 218 signatures to secure a December 10 vote. The resolution currently remains at 178 following a late addition by Rep. Joe Morelle (D-NY) on November 28.

Demonstrating passion and advocacy around important issues is a core tenet of American democracy. It is what makes the United States an attractive and hopeful place to billions around the globe. However, when these efforts become increasingly partisan and shortsighted, we must proceed with caution. The House CRA that would forcibly bring back Title II regulation through an extreme partisan avenue is dangerous and only diminishes our nation's ability to craft and enact constructive technology policy that reflects both sides of the aisle and promotes transparency, equality and long-term efficacy.

As our lives grow further entwined with technology, it only becomes more important for Congress to act on major technology policy. However, politicians must be willing to stop using issues like net neutrality as a wedge for political expediency and polarization. With a sensible and bipartisan approach, legislators can enact landmark policies on today's leading technology issue-even in the divided 116 th Congress. Let's hope they have the wisdom to disregard the uninformed bluster.

An American abroad, Roslyn Layton studies evidence-based policy for the information, communications, and digital technology industries with the goal to maximize welfare for consumers and taxpayers.

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From Plasma to LCD, and LED to touchscreen, the display screen technology has come a long way in the past two decades. Undoubtedly, mainstream companies such as Nokia, Samsung and Apple have contributed a lot towards innovative technologies to enhance the user experience. Not to forget, the invention of active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays in 2008 that is acting as the basis for next-gen devices. Building upon this technology, Samsung and LG rolled out their curved-screen smartphones in 2014. This launch has fuelled Samsung’s ambitions to release infold, outfold, rollable and stretchable AMOLED displays. Notably, Apple has patented designs of rollable smartphone which folds like an ancient scroll.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the flexible screen technology, which seems to conquer the future soon.

Flexible Display Technology...

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Literally, a flexible display screen is an electronic visual display which is movable in nature. This is a type of OLED that has a flexible plastic substrate on which the electroluminescent organic semiconductor is deposited. Or, in layman’s language, a flexible screen is a display made up of flexible materials like plastic instead of traditional rigid glass. Unlike the prevalent traditional flat-screen displays that are used in the majority of electronic devices, the flexible screens will be bendable.

Advantages...

Better longevity: As these displays will be made out of plastic, they might offer more longevity as compared to the traditional glass.

Lightweight: As it is a known fact that plastic is lighter than glass, flexible display screens will be definitely lighter than the traditional glass displays.

Leaner dimensions: The flexible display screens have the capability to be manufactured in thinner dimensions and different shapes unlike the traditional rectangular screen.

Unbreakable: There might be a possibility to incorporate unbreakable plastic into the flexible display screens.

Disadvantages...

Inflexibility of circuit board: There are a lot of things going on with a flexible display. There are many different materials – conductors, semiconductors, insulators, substrates – that can be combined into a very thin film.

Less reliable: As there is a flexible plastic substrate on which the electroluminescent organic semiconductor is deposited, there might be incidents of accumulation of screen diodes on the foldable portion of the screen after a long span of wear and tear.

More...

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The flexible smartphones by Samsung, including Galaxy X or Galaxy F, will feature two inside panels with the foldable technology and one outside panel. On being unfolded, it will have a 7.3-inch screen. Also, the technology giant plans to roll it out at a cost ranging from $1850 to $2000. Apart from Samsung, Huawei is also rumoured to be launching smartphones with flexible screens in early 2019. Moreover, the company is said to launch these smartphones with flexible screens at a competitive price, thus giving an edge to Samsung.

While a lot of talking has been done about flexible display screens, those with a soft corner for technology can’t wait for long to bend and stretch their smartphones or have a laptop-like experience on their mobile devices!

Imagine travelling inside an ultra-fast, direct and emission-free capsule at the speed of sound and reaching your desired destination in just a matter of few minutes. Well, this can be a reality in the near future. With the current scenario where one gets stuck up in traffic delays on a daily basis, there is a need for a mode of transportation which helps you reach all the far away destinations in a short time. 

What is Hyperloop?

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Here is the concept of the Hyperloop, which may be the swiftiest way to travel on the surface of the earth. Moreover, Hyperloop can be the biggest leap in transportation infrastructure. In this concept mode of transportation, passengers will be sitting in small pods which will travel at airline speeds through pressurised tubes using electric propulsion and magnetic levitation. This extraordinary concept is on the verge of becoming a reality.

Origin

Hyperloop was first conceived in 2012 by Tesla and SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, who in the same year openly released a document which set out his vision of futuristic high speed transporting mechanism that would help in transporting passenger pods swiftly pass through a half vacuum in steel tunnels, depicting the two major things that reduce the speed of current vehicles, friction and air resistance.

Progress

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From beginning, Musk had always retained his statement that the prototype of hyperloop would be “open source” and he openly motivated others to get united and develop the necessary technology, independently from his involvement. This has resulted to the creation of many startups and learners have created teams for the purpose of developing different prospective of hyperloop technology with different degrees of success. Now, many big companies are making huge leaps to get hyperloop systems to fruition.

The Virgin Hyperloop One company has made huge developments as compared to other companies

This Company is on a track to achieve their bold ambition of bringing a hyperloop mechanism into operation by 2021. However, their project is slightly from Musk’s original plan.

Virgin Hyperloop One’s technology brings together two basic ideas:

• Magnetic Levitation: Magnetic levitation uses two sets of magnets; one to repel the train from the rail track and levitate it upwards and the other to shift the floating train along the rail track at great speed with decreased friction.

• Vacuum: The tubes will be having a closed atmosphere for the passenger pods to shift through. With removal of most of the air from the tunnels and making zero contact with the surface, the pods face no opposite force as they shift. Hence, the air pressures inside the tube are equivalent to flying in the sky. Being in a tunnel, the whole system is protected from all external calamities.

Success

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Virgin Hyperloop One have carried out several tests focusing on singular aspects of the system and a complete full-scale system test in May 2017. The propulsion, braking, levitation and vacuum systems are all performing well and the team have achieved a top speed of over 240 mph to date.

Where are hyper loops being built?

The 10 hyperloop projects across five countries are listed below:

• Canada - Toronto-Montreal

• US - Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh

• US - Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo

• US - Miami-Orlando

• US - Dallas-Laredo-Houston

• Mexico - Mexico City-Guadalajara

• UK - Glasgow-Liverpool

• UK - Edinburgh-London

• India - Mumbai-Chennai

• India - Bengaluru-Chennai

How is Hyperloop better than other current modes of transportation?

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Accessibility: Like train stations, hyperloop stations, called portals, are planned to be located within inner-city areas with easy links to existing transport infrastructure. This will be beneficial for hyperloop systems as compared to air travel, as airports are located far away from city centers. Moreover, the system is being designed with “turn up and go” principle.

Speed: If hyperloop can decrease the travel duration between cities, this will allow people to live in other parts of the city or even country.

Clean energy: A hyperloop system requires minimal power to propel pods through its tubes as the vacuum environment poses little obstruction. The systems could be powered by renewable energies such as solar and wind, offering a much effective and cleaner alternative to air travel.

Safe: The tubes will be made using thick steel and will be designed to bear changes in pressure and air leaks while keeping their structural integrity in place and stopping it from external calamities or earthquake. Moreover, hyperloop systems will be constructed on designed pylons which are elevated seismically and are able to move and move independently of one another reducing damage in the event of a major ground shift. Sensors fixed along the route would swiftly report issues to the system control centre.

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