Technology Can Change Global Policy, UK Leader Says

The power of the Web and communications will help the world to face global challenges like poverty, human rights abuses, and climate change, said U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown.

Brown made a surprise appearance as speaker at the TED Global conference in Oxford last week, where he said technology -- such as blogs, YouTube and Twitter -- meant that the world could no longer be run by "elites."

Instead, foreign policies could be formed by listening to the opinions of people "who are blogging and communicating with people around the world," he said.

"Massive changes in technology have allowed the possibility of people linking up around the world," he said.

Brown cited examples when an image has brought events to the attention of the world: a girl screaming after a napalm attack during the Vietnam War, a man blocking a tank in Tiananmen Square, and an Iranian girl shot to death.

Brown went on to detail how people today have used technology to spread a global message, including monks blogging from Burma during the unrest; the Zimbabwean election, where citizens took photos of the voting booths from their mobile phones; and the Twitter protests regarding the Iran election.

Of the Zimbabwe election, Brown said: "Because people were able to take mobile phone photographs of what was happening at polling stations, it was impossible for [Robert Mugabe] to fix that election in the way that he wanted to do."

Today's interconnectedness, through tools such as the internet, has the power to democratise the world and create a true global society, he told the TED Global (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference.

"We now have the capacity to find common ground with people we will never meet but we can meet through the internet... We have the means to take collective action and take collective action together."

Other luminary speakers at the four-day-long, invitation-only TED Global conference included philosopher Alain de Botton, quantum physicist David Deutsch, and author and comedian Stephen Fry.

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