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Dawn of a Decade: The Top Ten Tech Policy Issues for the 2020s

Source | LinkedIn | Brad SmithBrad Smith is an influencer | President at Microsoft Corporation

By Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne

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For the past few years, we’ve shared predictions each December on what we believe will be the top ten technology policy issues for the year ahead. As this year draws to a close, we are looking out a bit further. This January we witness not just the start of a new year, but the dawn of a new decade. It gives us all an opportunity to reflect upon the past ten years and consider what the 2020s may bring.

As we concluded in our book, Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, “Technology innovation is not going to slow down. The work to manage it needs to speed up.” Digital technology has gone longer with less regulation than virtually any major technology before it. This dynamic is no longer sustainable, and the tech sector will need to step up and exercise more responsibility while governments catch up by modernizing tech policies. In short, the 2020s will bring sweeping regulatory changes to the world of technology.

Tech is at a crossroads, and to consider why, it helps to start with the changes in technology itself. The 2010s saw four trends intersect, collectively transforming how we work, live and learn. Continuing advances in computational power made more ambitious technical scenarios possible both for devices and servers, while cloud computing made these advances more accessible to the world. Like the invention of the personal computer itself, cloud computing was as important economically as it was technically. The cloud allows organizations of any size to tap into massive computing and storage capacity on demand, paying for the computing they need without the outlay of capital expenses. 

More powerful computers and cloud economics combined to create the third trend, the explosion of digital data. We begin the 2020s with 25 times as much digital data on the planet as when the past decade began.

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