Governments may be responsible for the slowing down of technological progress around the world. Government shutdowns and Presidents who refuse to leave their seats despite alarming corruption scandals impact negatively on the advancement of technology in their countries.
Puerto Rico, devastated by a hurricane in 2017, only now, over 140 days later, has restored electricity to 75 percent of its inhabitants. In the modern age of engineering it is baffling that a U.S. colony has been incapable of restoring power to their island in the five months since the hurricane.
Elon Musk offered to send Tesla’s utility-sized Powerwall batteries to help with the Puerto Rican crisis, but no credible news of a handover was ever reported. Then, on Sunday evening the 11th of February 2018, an explosion at an electric substation plunged 400,000 power customers back into darkness in Puerto Rico.
The colony’s government has now announced that the state-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) would be privatized. Its power infrastructure is almost 30 years older than the American industry average. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that full power will be restored by May.
New technological answers to ensuring longer uptime for electricity companies and their substations are being developed; Puerto Rico would certainly benefit. Private companies may be better able to find engineering solutions.
Even in tough economic times, private enterprise is able to emerge with incredible feats of engineering that paint a sunny picture of technological progress in the world. Elon Musk’s tweeted gesture of offering to help Puerto Rico is a bigger gesture than the Puerto Rican government was able to muster. Many Puerto Ricans spent Christmas in the dark.
Wider gap between private and government
One of the more obvious disparities between governments and the private sector is arising in one of the most unexpected industries; the aerospace engineering industry. Musk’s SpaceX Heavy Falcon launch last week showed how much more efficient privatized space companies are (when compared with previous government-funded launches).
In the United Arab Emirates, there are calls for private sector and government cohesion. Saeed Al Gergawi, the Program Director of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center’s Mars 2117 program, said:
“As governments try to catch up to private industry, it is vital to ask how they will be able to set the right policies and governing strategies for new technology.”
Government and company attempts at collaboration make sense. NASA and SpaceX engineers will be working together in upcoming Mars Missions and the United Arab Emirates desires a similar outcome for their space missions.
While collaboration efforts are becoming agenda items in parts of the world, privately owned engineering enterprises steam ahead. Amazon, Google, and Apple are world leaders in technology development that governments will one day rely on.
Hoyos, Joshua. “Puerto Rico Governor Announces Privatization of State Owned Power Company.” ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/US/puerto-rico-governor-announces-privatization-state-owned-power/story?id=52533378.
Person. “Closing the Technological Gap between Government and Private Industry.” Arab News, Arabnews, 28 Jan. 2018, www.arabnews.com/node/1234736.