This Tuesday, the president of the United States Barack Obama made his last speech at the United Nations General Assembly during which he talked about the ways the world has changed during his last two presidential tenures which will soon span eight full years. Obama said he strongly believes he's leaving the world in a better place than he found it and advised other world leaders to let the past stay in the past and go forward from here on out. As to what "forward" exactly means in this context, the US president stated that while no one can predict the future, there's no doubt in his mind that "forward" is closely connected to the Internet and technology in general.
Obama remembered how the iPhone was still a novelty when he moved into the Oval office in 2009 while Android devices were still getting a foothold in the market. He reminisced about the time when Facebook and Twitter didn't have a global appeal and the likes of WhatsApp and Instagram—both of which are Facebook-owned today—didn't even exist. After this short daydreaming sequence, Obama made his point: the power of social media in 2016 is so incredible that social networks alone can facilitate a revolution, educate the masses, and empower citizens in a lot of other ways regardless of where in the world they're located. Regardless of that, the US president noted that there's a dark side to social media, citing numerous examples of terrorist cells recruiting Western youth on social media. He still finished his speech on a positive note and concluded that a connected society offers way more benefits than drawbacks.
Obama was then replaced on stage by Ban Ki-moon, the main UN secretary whose tenure is also coming to an end this year. Curiously enough, the Secretary-General spent a good portion of his speech talking about contemporary technology, as well. More specifically, he called smartphones both a "lifeline" and "the bane of our existence," adding that the smartphone revolution connected the entire world in a way he deemed impossible when he assumed office in 2007.
In related news, it was just yesterday that Obama reflected on another branch of the tech industry. In an article published in the latest issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Obama praised autonomous vehicles and industry's efforts to bring self-driving cars to the market as soon as possible but added that new regulations are a necessity in this time of rapidly changing technology.