“Technology democratizes voices and allows more people to participate and engage,” he said.
With social media, he continued, individual people have the same opportunities for power as large corporations. This can be seen in Egypt and Tunisia, where Twitter and Facebook served as a medium for people to communicate openly, and change their governments. Furthermore, the cost of technology has dropped dramatically, closing the technological gap between social classes, and making these tools accessible to nearly anyone.
Yet technology’s role within our government, Newsom explained, is lagging behind private use. The digital divide between classes has been replaced by a digital divide between the people and the government in the US, which fails to use technological tools at hand to its advantage.
“In the US, we’ve stopped investing in our future,” Newsom said. “And as a result, the world we invented in so many ways is now ahead of us.”
On his recent trip to Estonia, Newsom was surprised to discover how complete technology is integrated into the government there.
“They even pay parking tickets via smartphones,” Newsom said regretfully. Meanwhile, in most parts of the US, people still send in paper checks via snail mail. Newsom believes that the United States has been living off its legacy and not building toward the future. Meanwhile, countries such as Estonia and China have been able to leapfrog the US, technologically. Newsome seemed flustered, explaining that our government hasn’t invested in new tools.
“California needs to get back in the future business,” Newsom said.
So how can we get back in this “future business?” Newsom suggested we start with reimagining California’s school system; transforming the system that’s all about sitting down and taking notes to a system that’s about gathering collective creativity, learning to problem solve, and learning to create the future.