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Updated May 25, 2023, 11:53am EDT
politicsNorth America

Leaders and policymakers speak about rebuilding US infrastructure

Steve Clemons in conversation with Steny Hoyer
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The News

Semafor hosted conversations on Thursday with top policymakers, government, and business leaders about rebuilding American infrastructure to remain globally competitive.

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Speaking to Semafor’s Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons, Steny Hoyer, a U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 5th Congressional District, said that discussions on the debt ceiling were a “phony political issue.”

“The real problem here is confidence ... that somehow America would not pay its debts,” he said.

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In a separate conversation, Jeetu Patel, Executive Vice President of Cisco, cautioned over the use of artificial intelligence.

“AI is all these wonderful nifty tools that we all have that we think are changing our lives, but they are available to our attackers.”

Steve Clemons in conversation with Jeetu Patel
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“Our adversaries only have to be right once, but we have to be right every time.”

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Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, talked about new economic possibilities in space.

“What has changed, in recent times, is that action in space is no longer just the province of governments ... we have new technologies and new companies that are really making space the next frontier for our economy,” Rosenworcel said.

She added that the FCC’s goal is to implement a new deregulatory model alongside international partners that connects mobile phones more easily to satellites, potentially eliminating all service dead zones globally.

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Rosenworcel said the FCC, which is in charge of regulating U.S. satellite transmissions, is presently assessing about 60,000 applications for new satellites. There are currently only between 7,000 and 8,000 satellites orbiting Earth.

FCC Chairwoman
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Rosenworcel said that in the future, as wireless technology improves and integrates more with artificial intelligence services, phones could be the “least interesting thing” in wireless tech in our lives.

Instead, she predicted, there will be “sensors in so much more that’s around us.” She put forward the idea of traffic signals that are naturally adaptive, or sensors on farms that make real-time predictions to increase sustainability.

“The world around us is going to become a whole lot smarter … and a whole lot more sensitive to scarce resources,” Rosenworcel said.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke about his economic and infrastructure record in office — and his time on the front lines in Ukraine. The Democrat said he would be willing to serve in President Joe Biden’s cabinet, following reports that the White House has eyed him for a role.

“I would do anything Joe Biden asked,” McAuliffe said, adding that he’s most interested in economic- and infrastructure-related issues. He jokingly suggested he could be Secretary of Defense, after his recent trip to Ukraine.

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