One needs an expert driver, but the driver does not get to decide where to go. As data, knowledge, technology and expertise are available for hire and purchase, the real mark of a leader will increasingly be his or her intuitive power and instinctive capability to understand the public mood and influence it. Emotions unfettered by expertise is dangerous; and expertise dismissive of emotions in ineffective. That is the leadership dilemma of our times.
Threatening the world with a long recession, the coronavirus looks set to inaugurate a turbulent new political and economic era. Its main tendencies will become visible over the months and years to come. But the most revolutionary shift is already in sight. The state, much maligned in recent decades, is back, and in its fundamental role: as Leviathan, the preventer of anarchy, and the ultimate insurance against an intolerable human condition in which life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
It is clear that U.S.-based technology companies will continue to shape the geo-economic trajectory of data governance, and thus play a key role in the trade, investment and diplomatic landscape in Asia. So long as the Big Tech lobby works closely in consultation with the governments of emerging economies to respect sovereign autonomy and promote citizen welfare over rabid corporate greed, it will continue to be a key stakeholder in shaping a free, fair and equitable digital future.
Today, nearly ten years later, the situation in the Middle East looks even worse than it did before the Arab Spring. Political repression is more onerous. Economic growth is sluggish and unequal. Corruption remains rampant. Gender equality is more aspiration than reality. Yet something fundamental has changed. Arab governments have traditionally rested on what political scientists call an “authoritarian bargain,” in which the state provides jobs, security, and services in exchange for political loyalty. This bargain is based on the assumption that ordinary people will remain passive. But today, that assumption no longer holds. Citizens no longer fear their governments.
Elites have always used their privileged position and access to resources for self-serving purposes, not for the greater good of humanity. And this abuse continues, disguised, as elites harness artificial intelligence and other new technologies to reach new levels of power previously undreamed of. A new breed of elites is born: “ailites”.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on course for a record fifth term after most votes from Tuesday’s parliamentary elections were counted, with Israel’s three main TV stations declaring him the winner.
Multilateralism and global cooperation are under increasing threat, posing a serious risk to future prosperity. Business and finance leaders should care deeply about this state of affairs, so why aren’t they doing much more to help counter it?
Today’s Chinese state, much like the imperial state, can be a generous benefactor, helping to rebuild temples, train new Buddhist and Taoist clergy, and set up international exchanges with the faithful in other countries. But toward those out of favor—today largely Christians and Muslims—the state can be harsh, setting up reeducation camps, demolishing mosques and churches, and persecuting leaders.