Washington – The
Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Digital Patriots Dinner Wednesday
night provided the backdrop for some themes which have highlighted Beltway talk
in recent months – the Federal deficit, investments in technology, recent
foreign policy developments, as well as overall innovation.
This year’s honorees
are Senator Tom A. Coburn, M.D. (R-Okla.), Representative Anna G. Eshoo
(D-Calif.) and Dr. Robert E. Kahn, chairman, CEO & president for the
Corporation for National Research Initiatives, who is credited for having
developed the Internet.
The dinner’s host,
and president/CEO of CEA, Gary Shapiro, started the evening with comments on
the Arab Spring revolutionary movements. “Citizens have brought down tyrants …
with the tools of this industry,” he said and that technology is a force for democracy
and that the industry should be proud of that.
Sen. Coburn was
honored for his ongoing work on trying to cut the deficit and balance the
budget. He said the U.S. got into this budget mess by “overspending during the
past 30 years … and 30 years later it is time to pay the bill.” Coburn is part
of the Congress’ “Gang of Six,” a bi-partisan committee to come up with budget
that both major parties can support.
represents California’s 14
Congressional district which includes
Silicon Valley. In her remarks she said CE products and technologies “inform,
educate … and make our lives easier.”
She added, the
entrepreneurial spirit found in the companies that sprang out of her district
and in the CE business in general shows that, with continued government
investments in tech research, even during tough economic times, is essential
for the strength of the nation and further economic development.
“Technology is the
tool of new democracies. This should be a sense of pride to all of you, and to
all Americans,” Eshoo said.
Rep. Eshoo also commented
on the ongoing debate on immigration. She said as a first-generation American
the nation should welcome the best and the brightest, who attend our
universities and stamp a Green Card with every college degree a foreign student
receives in the U.S., instead of saying go home.
Dr. Kahn, along with
, Vinton G. Cerf, is credited
with being one of the fathers of the Internet, as a designer of the TCP/IP
In an acceptance
speech which was part history lesson and part tech seminar, Kahn said when he
developed the Internet with his colleague Cerf, “Nobody thought it was a good
idea … nobody cared.”
He noted that the
Internet is “a 40 year-old architecture and the word ‘inter’ is a key. It was
designed to work with other systems.”
Kahn asked the
question of why the Internet has survived so long by saying, it is an open
architecture, which has been a blessing and as well as a major problem in the
form of cyber-attacks, which must now be dealt with on a worldwide basis.
He also agreed with
his fellow Digital Patriots that U.S. technology research should not be short-changed
and is needed to maintain our leadership in the world.
The $24,000 proceeds
from the dinner, held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, here, were
donated to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships Program providing low-income
parents in the District of Columbia with expanded options for the education of