Dire need for digital values
Inma Martinez, Steve Wozniak, Jimmy Wales and Thomas Koulopoulos (right) at the International Government communication forum in Sharjah.
Sharjah - Wozniak aka 'The Woz' said government communication should be in both directions and inclusive of different types of culture.
Governments should be more dynamic, less bureaucratic, more tech-enabled and more inclusive in all communication channels to allow digitalisation play an increasingly vital role in governance and advance the interests of the people.
This was said by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales at the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) in Sharjah on Thursday.
Wozniak aka 'The Woz' said government communication should be in both directions (incoming and outgoing) and inclusive of different types of culture. He cited his own principle which he applies to his children: "I do not put my own values on my children. I let them choose for themselves rather than say that this is the only way that they can think. I create a dynamic feedback because there is not a single story or one line to follow."
Wozniak also warned of the flip side of free-flowing ideas. He noted that "technology allows politics to override the real facts" as commercial interests subvert the flow of information.
To illustrate his point, he cited the case of Siri when it was still a third-party app not bought by Apple. "Before, you could ask Siri, 'give me the five largest lakes in California' and all the information would just flow in. But now, when you ask Siri the same question, a whole bunch of real estate ads (with the words lake) will pop up."
Wozniak also explained the idea of being "dynamic" in the context of raising the question of who owns the information in the light of the recent Facebook scandal leaking details of its users.
"If I share my details or information, I own it and if someone will share it, at least I can get paid one cent for sharing it," he noted. "People who supply information should own them and not tech giants like Facebook 'which has turned data into billions of dollars'," he added.
Wales also noted that there are "bad actors" in the digital revolution where "we see the rise of new forms of propaganda and misinformation." By using digitalisation correctly, he said that governments can create algorithms that can block the spreading of fake news and false information.
Wales underlined that algorithms should incorporate a "value system" and not use them - like in the US - to tweak how people decide in the polls.
In advancing the digital revolution, digital scientist Inma Martinez said that governments should act as "safe guardians" of people's security information. She chided corporations for knowing more information about individuals than the government.
"Why should companies need all my information? There is no one better than government to keep our identity," said Martinez, adding that governments should create digital platforms where people can feel safe and secure.