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Fixing tech’s problems
Early January, the CES took place in Las Vegas. Marketed as the global stage for innovation, it highlights many emerging (consumer) technologies. Not on display, but top of mind are the unintended consequences of technology deployments. After a year characterized by data, privacy and security scandals, authorities are searching for ways to address these issues and break the market power of the tech monopolies (e.g. Google, Facebook, Amazon). Following the CES, which devoted several conference streams to the subject, in FreedomLab four panelists also discussed the issues and the possible solutions in a recent Future Affairs session, called Fixing the Internet. While the panel could not provide a quick fix, they concluded that several solutions are available. The challenge, however, will be to achieve broad consumer adoption, for instance through government implementation. The Dutch city Nijmegen, for example, is implementing the IRMA identity platform, giving people full control over the way they share personal data with official authorities. Nevertheless, the first hurdle is already cleared: the growing consumer and government awareness ensures that the problem will be addressed.
LatAm’s changing power dynamics
2019 will be a bellwether for the coming years of Latin America, as reforms in Mexico, Brazil, Argentine and Colombia will be implemented. Furthermore, two newly chosen presidents will lead Mexico and Brazil, Latin America’s regional powers. Together these countries account for 60% or regional GDP and half of the region’s population. Under President López Obrador, Mexico is making a leftist turn and is looking to weaken its dependence on the U.S. by strengthening relationships with its southern neighbors. Brazil, meanwhile, is making a rightist turn under President Bolsonaro and is seeking more engagement with the U.S. and Europe. Increased Chinese interest in Latin America will amplify these dynamics: China will be keen to improve its relations with Mexico to gain a presence in Central America, the southern backyard of the U.S. By contrast, the U.S. will increasingly cooperate with Bolsonaro on his anti-China rhetoric to strengthen Brazil as South America’s major power. This quadratic relation between the two global powers and the two regional Latin American powers will redefine Latin America’s politics.
The Democrats found their grand narrative
Only a few months after mid-term elections, democratic representatives launched the most ambitious plan seen in Washington over the last few decades. The Green New Deal (GND) combines Roosevelt’s signature New Deal with 21st century elements: decarbonizing the economy, a federal jobs guarantee and fair chances and benefits for everyone. These are bold goals, but the wider public has already embraced the GND before it has even become clear how to reach these goals. More importantly, the wide variety of perspectives enables a broad coalition of support beyond partisan limits. As shown in the graph, even Republicans support the plan, mainly due to Republican Millennials, who are more concerned about climate change then their older party members. However, besides climate change actions, the GND also offers a vision for a new kind of economy and embodies a new narrative that Americans are looking for. This provides the Democrats with a grand story to challenge Trump in the run-up to the 2020 elections, and could inspire democratic parties in other countries to also frame climate change in a bipartisan way.