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CHAPTER VI - Conclusion

Many of the issues of interest at the 34th Annual Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy were outside the purview of the companies in the communications sector traditionally regulated by the FCC. Rather, the focus was the role of technology companies in society. The overarching concern is that certain online platforms have an enormous influence on the way people think, what people hear and what they know.

AI and the IoT are likely to fundamentally change the world in many ways. Computational systems that people do not see or understand are making decisions for and about them. These technologies have ushered society to the cusp of a revolution, similar to the beginning of the First Industrial Revolution. Yet, there is fear that the benefits will at best be uneven across our country, while the harms to some may be significant. The ability of government to navigate this transformation successfully is not clear. Government is not well suited to intervene when the pace of change is accelerating, and the institutional framework to respond is, at best, static. Further cooperation between government and the private sector is necessary to address identified harms and to ensure that all Americans can benefit from the advent of 5G, AI and the IoT. It is time for all stakeholders to focus on the guardrails that can best serve society, and also consider the areas that are best left to the market to address.

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