BOSTON (CBS) – Listen to what Secretary of State John Kerry said the other day during a visit with U.S. diplomatic personnel in Brazil.
He was talking about the amazing changes in technology in recent decades and the profound impact they’ve had on diplomacy, government and politics.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
“Ever since the end of the Cold War,” said Kerry, “forces have been unleashed that were tamped down for centuries by dictators, and that was complicated further by this little thing called the internet and the ability of people everywhere to communicate instantaneously and to have more information coming at them in one day than most people can process in months or a year.”
It sounded like another ode to the democratizing power of the web.
But in the next sentence, Kerry seemed to head in another direction.
The internet, he said, “makes it much harder to govern, makes it much harder to organize people, much harder to find the common interest, and that is complicated by a rise of sectarianism and religious extremism that is prepared to employ violent means to impose on other people a way of thinking and a way of living that is completely contrary to everything the United States of America has ever stood for.”
Sounds like our top diplomat has very mixed feelings about the power of the internet, and I think I understand where he’s coming from.
Sir Francis Bacon first noted that “knowledge is power” in 1597, but more than 400 years later we’re seeing how knowledge without context or constraint can liberate the worst within us along with the best.
Some people download the tools of freedom; others download hate speech and bomb-making instructions.
As another wise man once said: “Wisdom is dead. Long live information.”
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