Global CIO: Bill Clinton On Technology's Promise And Problems

Warning that he doesn't know much about technology, the former president said tech's true potential lies in the service of institutions.
On IT's role in the financial crisis: "What caused the meltdown? Our financial institutions worked arguably too well, at warp speed." As a result, the article describes Clinton as saying, "people used information technology to help do fancy things with money that were disconnected with the real economy."

On IT's impact in poor countries and in rich countries: "The challenge in poor countries is institution building. The challenge in rich countries is institutional reform."

On his legacy as a presidential email power user: "I sent a grand total of two emails as president," he said, "one to our troops in the Adriatic, and one to John Glenn when he was 77 years old in outer space. I figured it was OK if Congress subpoenaed those."

Overall, I was struck by Clinton's focus on technology as a servant to institutions, whereas the overwhelming sentiment these days about technology's purpose is as a source of human or individual enrichment and engagement.

Perhaps it's a matter of people's perceptions being shaped by what they know and what they've experienced -- in that case, it's understandable that Clinton would focus more on tech in the service of big organizations rather than individuals.

As the saying goes, "May you live in interesting times." I don't think we need to consult Watson to assess whether that is currently the case for us.


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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

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