Gore tells IT crowd, ‘You’re in the right business’

The long-term trend in the IT industry is “extremely powerful” despite the broad decline of technology stocks in the market and the demise of dot-com companies, according to former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, who spoke at a communications trade show last Thursday.

Gore, who won the popular vote in the 2000 U.S. presidential election, but lost to George W. Bush in the electoral-college vote, spoke in downtown Washington, D.C., at the Technology Marketing Corp.’s Communications Solutions Expo.

“You are all in the right business at the right time even though the last 14 months have been bumpy to say the least,” Gore said. “Everyone knew technology stocks were overvalued. It was just a matter of time before everyone shed what (U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman) Alan Greenspan called irrational exuberance. The longer term trends are still extremely powerful.”

Addressing a crowd of about 1,000 attendees that greeted him with a standing ovation, Gore said as long as Moore’s Law is in effect, then it stands to reason that long-term trends will continue to be positive. Moore’s law is named after Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore, who predicted that the logic density of silicon integrated circuits would grow exponentially each year, leading to a doubling of computing power every 18 months.

Gore also spoke about productivity gains that have been realized in the U.S. economy through the application of technology, but he warned attendees not to place too much faith in finding a “technological silver bullet” that can solve problems on its own. Technological solutions must be put in the hands of people who understand their application and who recognize that the most valuable attribute of their employees is their creative thinking power.

The former vice-president also challenged technology company representatives to ensure that their organizations care about families and communities and to create enterprises with a sense of purpose. He commended those companies that have put into place policies that show they care about more than just profit.

In a brief retrospective on the developments in IT over the last decade, Gore noted that there were only 50 sites on the World Wide Web when he entered office as vice-president in 1993 and now there are several million. Call centers, he said, now have many capabilities, including things such as voice over IP (Internet protocol) and powerful connections that allow sellers to take control of the user’s terminal. Immediately, he asked, “Am I going to like that?” But after his speech Gore said that was not an expression of concern over privacy. “I was just joking,” he said, adding that he felt privacy was a “huge concern.”

Gore is spending time teaching and is writing a book about family with his wife, Tipper. He said he didn’t know whether he would run again for political office.