May 13 2008 / by juldrich
Category: Business & Work Year: General Rating: 6 Hot
By Jack Uldrich
Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, last week I explained why death’s grip might be loosening, and this week I’d like to take a quick look at how our tax burden could soon be reduced.
In the editorial section of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal there were two articles that spoke to how emerging technologies could dramatically lower government expenditures—and, by extension, help cut taxes.
The first was a piece by Brian Carney and it explained how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could soon replace a majority of the military’s jet fighters. What is most noteworthy is that in addition to placing fewer pilots at mortal risk, the cost of a UAV (or drone) is $4.2 million as compared to $350 million, which is the cost of a next-generation F-22 fighter. Better still, UAV’s don’t suffer from fatigue; go on extended leave; nor do they require generous pensions after they are retired.
Advances in robotics offer similar chances to cut our bloated defense budget. Robots are soon expected to be able to drive vehicles and, eventually, even ships and submarines. If so, the rational for our sizeable army and navy will soon be called into question.
Technology’s benefit is not limited only to defense. As Gordon Crovitz explained is his piece, “From Wikinomics to Government 2.0,” the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies are transforming everything from how citizens are combating crime (and thus cutting down on police budgets) to better managing their neighborhoods. (cont.)
The real benefits of new emerging technologies, though, can be found in the areas of education and transportation. Innovative teachers are now employing Curriki to constantly update their curriculum; advances in electronics – such as Amazon’s new Kindle – should help render textbooks obsolete; and the open-courseware movement that MIT and other elite universities are pursuing should make education less expensive by making content freely available to anyone with Internet access.
In the area of transportation, roads, bridges and mass transit systems are all expensive to build and operate. The innovative use of sensors and satellite technology might, however, allow users to more efficiently use our existing roads; and super high-speed bandwidth capability – in combination with improved video and virtual reality technology – should make working from home even more practical in the near future.
The bottom-line is that there is absolutely no reason why government should cost more in the future. People, especially government officials, need to start thinking differently about how to innovatively employ technology to better address today’s existing problems.
Looking for some other innovative ideas about how technology can save taxpayers money? Check out these past posts: