Bill Clinton crashes CES to talk politics and the Internet
- 09 January, 2013 19:42
Bill Clinton addresses CES 2013
Former US President Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance at the International CES on Wednesday, where he talked a little about technology and a lot about hot-button political issues like the environment and gun control.
Clinton was greeted by rousing applause when he appeared toward the end of Samsung's CES keynote, and at the end of his speech a portion of the audience gave him a standing ovation.
He began with some light-hearted talk, remembering that when he entered the Oval Office, cellphones weighed 5 pounds and there were only 50 sites on the Internet. "There have been more than that created since I started talking," he said, in an understatement.
He talked about the importance of the Internet and mobile phones in raising living standards in poor countries like Haiti and he spoke of the importance of bringing broadband to all Americans. South Korea is number one in the world for download speeds, while the US is 15th, Clinton said.
"Our speeds are one-fourth of theirs," he said of South Korea.
He also urged the gadget-happy CES crowd not to take their comforts for granted. "You'd be shocked if the video failed and the screen went dark," he said, while others in the world don't even take drinking water for granted.
He soon turned to other, non-tech topics that took up a good part of his 30-minute address. In the wake of the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Clinton called for tougher action on gun control. The U.S. is about to have a "raging debate" over "our unjustifiable neglect of gun safety," he said.
"Why would anybody need a 30-round clip for a gun? Why does anyone need one of these things that carries 100 bullets?" he asked.
The world faces three main challenges, he said: chasms of inequality, instability created by the financial markets and terrorism threats, and climate change. The US just had its hottest year on record by 1 degree, Clinton said. "Perhaps the deniers will finally be quieted," he said.
Technology can help solve the world's problems, but technology alone is not enough, he said. "If you look what the Arab Spring did to use social networks to topple an oligarchy, you realise it's not a total solution," he said.
The "messy real world" requires more than digital connections to ensure a fair political process, he said.
Some of Clinton's comments were sure to divide the audience and lead to questions about whether CES is the right place for a largely political speech. That's ironic, since Clinton also said the biggest issue the U.S. faces today is division.
The country has come a long way in addressing racism and homophobia, he said. "The only remaining bigotry we have is we just don't want to be around people who disagree with us," Clinton said.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.
How to Switch From iPhone 5S to BlackBerry Z30 (and Why)
CIOs to Become In-House Brokers -- and That's a Good Thing
The future of computing
10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
The future of computing
Guide: 10 Essential Questions about Mobile App Containers
Mobile apps are the ultimate corporate dilemma: They turbo-charge productivity—but also bring significant security risks. How do you navigate the challenge and emerge with both? With a comprehensive approach to security.Learn the key areas to focus on as you build a mobile app security strategy.
Secure by design - How to dramatically simplify data protection, access control and other critical security tasks
This white paper examines how you can dramatically reduce the effort required to protect mission-critical information, while giving users fast, simple, flexible remote access that enhances business productivity.
Stop Paying the Earth for Global Roaming
Why do we continue to pay the earth for global roaming? With Telstra increasing global roaming charges by 100-500% in over 180 countries, bill shock can only get worse. This paper investigates why, what and how your company can address the need for global coverage.