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The limits of gee whiz

Jan 20,2020
LEE DONG-HYUN
The author is the deputy head of the industry 1 team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

This year’s CES, the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, was a blast for the Korean participants. Their presence packed a punch, given the attendance by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and the huge number of CEOs. The press corps sent from Korea was also bigger, some even headed by their media chiefs.

Korean companies received a lot of attention. Samsung Electronics demonstrated a ball-like pet robot, LG Electronics presented rollable screens in various sizes and Hyundai Motor displayed a futuristic aerial vehicle. Pictures of trade show participants in awe hit the global wires and were all over the internet.

But few covered key addresses or discussions at sessions during the event. The only mentions were Ivanka Trump for her address and a few Korean CEOs on the podium. Korean press mostly did not show interest in the speeches and other sessions on future technologies.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced Automated Vehicle 4.0 — an updated guideline for drones and self-driving technology. The guidance released annually since 2016 has been announced by the transportation secretary instead of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The 4.0 guideline raised controversy since it failed to address various complications and issues over automated vehicles.

The Washington Post criticized the Trump administration for being all talk and leaving the industry to deal with the regulation issue. It raised concerns about the government’s leniency and its lack of support for new industries.

The U.S. government, academia and companies hold discussions on the employment of new technologies. The U.S. guidelines have served as a reference to global industry from 2017.

Taking pictures of famous people and Korean presentations may be important. But the media should have paid greater attention to the process of rule making for new technologies. CES should not be all fun and games if Korea really wants be an active part of the technology world.