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Former US President Barack Obama. (Photo: AP)
Former US President Barack Obama. (Photo: AP)

Technology has amplified inequality: Obama

  • Another major global issue that bothers Obama is polarization
  • In the new information age people find it difficult to decipher what is true and what is not true, said Obama

San Francisco: Climate change, inequality and polarization are some of the biggest issues of the current generation that need to be dealt with, said former US President Barack Obama at Dreamforce 2019, CRM services company Salesforce Inc's annual enterprise tech event.

"Climate change at the top because there is such a thing as being late on some issues and this is one of those," said Obama, in a fireside chat with Salesforce chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff.

The former American President said that while technology has emerged as a great tool for wealth generation, it has also helped increase inequality in the society.

"The second issue I worry about a lot would be the rise of extreme inequality within nations and also between nations and that is being turbocharged by globalization and technology," he said.

Technology has amplified inequality, Obama added.

"So much of the Political turmoil we are seeing right now has to do with people feeling legitimately, materially insecure because of these disruptions," said Obama.

While technology has advanced rapidly over the past decades and have impacted lives tremendously, social institutions have not adjusted themselves to this new paradigm in order to make sure that we benefit from this huge rise of productivity that comes with technology, he said.

Another major global issue that bothers Obama is polarization, resulting from information technologies such as social media.

"What we have seen at each juncture, whether it was the printing press, radio or television and now what we are seeing with social media is that when you have big disruptive information technologies, that can be a dangerous moment," said Obama.

In the new information age people find it difficult to decipher what is true and what is not true, he said.

"That's part of why we are having so much trouble in our political culture. It's not just affecting politics. We are siloing ourselves off from each other," said Obama.

Due to this polarization there is a lack of a common conversation and a common culture, feels Obama.

"If you watch Fox News you live in a different reality than if you read the New York Times," he said.

The writer is in San Francisco on Salesforce's invitation

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