Obama to guest-edit Wired magazine's November issue

To solidify his legacy of STEM initiatives and tech innovation in the White House, Obama plans to guest-edit an issue of WIRED and host a technology and innovation conference before leaving office.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File
President Obama poses with 6-year-old Girl Scouts from Tulsa, Okla., during the 2015 White House Science Fair. Mr. Obama plans to cap his technology legacy with a science and technology conference in October and as a guest editor for Wired magazine's November issue.

From the White House Science Fairs to The United States Digital Service, President Obama has made significant strides in encouraging the intersection of technology and government. As he prepares to exit the White House, Mr. Obama plans to further solidify that legacy by hosting a science and technology conference.

The October 13 conference will focus on “frontiers” – personal, local, national, global, and interplanetary – including topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics, climate change, space travel, and how communities are using data to improve quality of life.

“The conference will focus on building US capacity in science, technology, and innovation, and the new technologies, challenges and goals that will continue to shape the 21st century and beyond,” wrote Megan Smith, US chief technology officer, and John P. Holdren, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a blog post.

In conjunction with the conference, to be hosted by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, Obama will guest-edit the frontiers-themed November issue of WIRED Magazine.

“We want to wrestle with the idea of how today’s technology can influence political leadership,” wrote WIRED editor-in-chief Scott Dadich in a post announcing the collaboration. “And who better to help us explore these ideas than President Obama?”

But not everyone is impressed with Obama’s tech history, particularly when it comes to data protection or regulation.

A survey at South By Southwest (SXSW), where Obama spoke this past March, found that 69 percent of people believe that “customers' private and encrypted data must be protected and never shared with the government,” according to a SXSW press release

Granted, SXSW came right after the FBI v. Apple debacle, in which the FBI asked Apple to create a way to bypass the security features of phones involved in the San Bernardino shooting and a drug case and Apple refused, stating that would create a backdoor that could compromise the security of all iPhone users. Understandably, many SXSW attendees were wary of Obama’s message that the government and tech companies should work together to solve the biggest global and national challenges.

Nonetheless, the Obama administration is leaving a sizable technology and innovation legacy.

In 2014, Obama founded the United States Digital Service, a sort of technological SWAT team who come to the rescue when the government encounters tech problems, such as the launch of healthcare.gov. He also founded the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, in which experts from fields outside the government work with federal offices on projects, and he greatly expanded Data.gov, which now houses 193,000 publicly available federal data sets.

The Obama administration has also worked hard to encourage the next generation of STEM field innovators, as well as current STEM teachers, through the Educate to Innovate program, which is responsible for the annual White House Science Fair.

“In many ways, his tech legacy is a talent legacy,” Mitchell Weiss, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, who has written previously about Obama and technology, tells the Monitor in an email. “It’s been innovation as invitation; a bigger and broader call to people with skills and ingenuity to help solve big public problems. A new generation of public entrepreneurs are responding to that call. The President, his programs, and the people that have come out of them are an important part of why they are.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Obama to guest-edit Wired magazine's November issue
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today