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The Fourth Leg

Written by Dennis Sun

Late last week, I traveled to Jackson for the Wyoming Global Technology Summit. It was the first one I had ever attended, and afterwards, I was sorry that I had missed the first two.

The third annual summit was two evenings of refreshments and networking with speakers and various entrepreneurs from around the country and a day of presentations by some excellent speakers from around the world. The speakers’ topics sounded way above my understanding, but the speakers brought their subjects down to ground level for everyone to understand.

The goal of the summit, as our Gov. Matt Mead described, it is to make technology the fourth leg of Wyoming’s economy, joining energy, tourism and agriculture as the state’s leading industrial sectors. We applaud the Governor and others for this action. We’ve all talked about the state’s economy needing a little diversity, and our Governor and others are working hard to see that it happens. We realize that the main goal of diversifying is to keep our kids in the state with good jobs, and these days, technology provides good, well-paying jobs.

As our Governor said, he was tired of seeing the state’s best and brightest young people leaving Wyoming for greener pastures after graduating from high school or college. The technology sector could curb that. He also said that there are two areas where technology could make an immediate impact on the state and its existing businesses – healthcare and cyber security. Gov. Mead said technology has already made a big, positive impact on healthcare in the state, especially rural healthcare, with an increased use of telemedicine and the unified healthcare information network already paying dividends for the state.

However, as we heard from various speakers, cyber security is a great concern for businesses all over the world, and those who break the law in cyber security are hard to catch. It may even be other governments who are behind the crime.

We heard an interesting talk on research on CO2 capture. Wyoming already has a test center near Gillette to study the future of CO2 capture. It’s expensive, but there are ways to do it. We just need to have the research to find them and make it cost effective. Clean coal has a future in Wyoming – and the world, for that matter. We saw a graph showing that Wyoming’s coal production should stay steady with world demand for electricity. Any rising demand for electricity in America will be met by renewables or natural gas. But the graph also showed that, in the near future, China will increase its demand for electricity by as much electricity as the United States uses currently – that’s how much China will grow. Well, they need some of our coal, and they need to know how to capture the carbon. Wyoming can provide both.

At the summit, we also learned how a company is providing technology for the automated reading of brain wave data from your smartphone. It’s unbelievable. Other topics included applications of artificial intelligence, issues of cyber security and genomic medicine. The President of CenturyLink, who does business on five continents around the world, gave a great talk. He does need to prop up the service in Wyoming, though.

Wyoming can enter the world of technology. In certain areas, we’ve already kicked the door in. We owe it to our future – and especially to our youth’s future. Again, we thank our Governor and others for their work in seeing it happen.