Mike Allen discusses the government's role in innovtion with Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR). Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

Axios' Mike Allen hosted a trio of conversations in D.C. on how 5G, the next phase in super-fast networks, will affect self-driving cars. He discussed the roles of government and tech in facilitating the adaption of these vehicles with:

  • T.H. Greg Walden (R-OR), Chairman, House Committee on Energy and Commerce
  • T.H. Gary Peters (D-MI), Senator, Michigan
  • Dr. Chris Urmson, CEO, Aurora
We subbed our signature oatmeal bowl for a 5Grain bowl to celebrate the occasion. (Chuck Kennedy for Axios)
Fueled by 5Grains, Mike takes the stage. (Chuck Kennedy for Axios)
Rep. Walden on 5G advances: "Washington’s role is to get out of the way of the innovators.” (Chuck Kennedy for Axios)

Why it matters: Rep. Walden leads the House committee tasked with overseeing technology issues.

Rep. Walden "I’m not looking for a lot of regulation, I’m looking for responsibility. [...] If responsibility doesn’t flow, then regulation will." (Chuck Kennedy for Axios)

Why it matters: An Axios-SurveyMonkey poll out yesterday morning shows Americans are increasingly concerned government won't do enough to regulate tech.

David McCabe's thought bubble: While Walden was cautious in announcing any specific action, this is striking talk coming from a pro-industry Republican with close ties to House leadership.

Sen. Peters on military application of self-driving tech: “We lost more soldiers in logistics operations driving through dangerous terrain than in combat.” (Chuck Kennedy for Axios)
Sen. Peters: "The F35 fighter that we're building now will probably be the last aircraft fighter ever built that will have a human pilot"--implying autonomous airplanes are next. (Chuck Kennedy for Axios)
Dr. Urmson, who's the CEO of autonomous car tech startup Aurora, tells Mike: "[Tech companies] at their core are doing what they think is right for society” and “doing their best to generate a better world. [...] They have massive reach,” and with that, “there is a social responsibility that comes along with that.” (Chuck Kennedy for Axios)
Thank you to the 130+ Washingtonians who joined us. (Chuck Kennedy for Axios)

Thank you to Qualcomm for sponsoring this event.

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