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.
Rep. Eshoo 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 one of
, Vinton G. Cerf, is credited with being one of the fathers of the Internet, as a designer of the TCP/IP protocols.
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 their children.