Archive for Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ex-FCC chief touts potential impact of technology

September 29, 2005

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American citizens, companies and organizations have yet to fully realize the potential that technology could have on day-to-day lives, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday.

"I think we haven't grasped at a big enough level how substantial an impact technology could have," Michael Powell said during a news conference.

Powell, who resigned as the FCC chairman earlier this year after serving in the role for four years, was in Lawrence on Wednesday as the lecturer for the Anderson Chandler Lecture Series, which was presented by the Kansas University School of Business. His presentation, "The Digital Revolution," focused on future technological changes and how they will affect society.

He said there are better ways to incorporate technology into parts of society, such as health care and education, to improve lives.

"With all the technology out there, I still take a paper prescription to the pharmacist," Powell said. Opportunities exist to use computers to communicate that information, he said.

He said there are risks that people will hack into computer systems and hijack information. But there could be just as troublesome issues for medical or other sensitive information in paper formats, which could get wet or lost in a fire, he said.


Michael Powell, former Federal Communications Commission chairman and son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks Wednesday afternoon with media members at the K.S. "Boots" Adams Alumni Center at Kansas University.

Michael Powell, former Federal Communications Commission chairman and son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks Wednesday afternoon with media members at the K.S. "Boots" Adams Alumni Center at Kansas University.

"It could just as easily be destroyed," Powell said.

Several hundred people gathered Wednesday night in KU's Lied Center to hear Powell's speech, during which he talked about the strides in technology that have occurred as microprocessing has allowed the placing of millions of pieces of information onto a silicon chip. That development process began in the 1950s, he said.

"What you unleashed was the ability to take large roomfuls of computer power and put them onto a chip," he said.

Powell also noted the personal customization of digitalization that has taken place, with people today purchasing cell phone ring tones, computer screen wallpaper and music.

Since resigning from the FCC, Powell said he has spent more time with his two sons. and has been working at a private equity firm invested in technology.

Powell is the son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. The elder Powell has no plans to make a presidential bid in 2008, according to his son.

Michael Powell is the ninth presenter in the Chandler series, which began in 1997 thanks to a gift from Anderson Chandler. Chandler is chief executive officer, president and director of Fidelity State Bank and Trust Co. of Topeka and vice president and director of First Bank in Newton.

Staff writer Mike Belt contributed to this story.

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