The UK might be a world leader when it comes to tech innovation, but is the UK’s leader as innovative in her tech? Does President Trump come out top in his social networking, and is Prime Minister Narendra Modi as modern as his app? What tech gadgets are world leaders choosing to use, and are they equally in touch with how their modern tech-savvy citizens operate in today’s digital world?
A Connected And Flexible Tech World
It is definitely a time of advanced technology; nearly every aspect of our daily lives can be digitised in some way. Technology has been responsible for creating amazing resources, making information accessible within a fingertip’s reach at any time. From communication and entertainment to remote working and finance, the increase of data analytics, machine learning, and social networks have impacted the way everyone communicates.
Modern technology and internet connectivity are now used on a daily basis, and advances in technology have borne numerous new ways to communicate, like social networking and video conferences – which have adopted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) so that deals and meetings can be conducted anytime, anywhere.
Never before has it been easier to plug in anywhere and immediately create a supportive work environment through the internet, the cloud, and (successively smarter) mobile devices.
This shift to online and digital has also had more serious implications in sectors such as finance, where accessing financial market information has never been easier. With accurate, real-time analysis available, a generation of online forex trading professionals has appeared, no longer confined to trading desks or having to go through brokers to buy stocks, move money, or speculate on currency positions.
In fact, artificial intelligence and the introduction of algorithms within trading apps have effectively removed the entry barrier to forex trading, with some systems capable of being set to make the trades themselves.
So, if citizens are adopting newer, faster digital tech to work from home, consume entertainment, and access financial markets, do world leaders need to reflect this too?
It’s Not Like World Leaders Don’t Earn Enough To Buy A Decent Phone, Do They?
Most world leaders earn a lot more than their respective national average wage. It is widely agreed that Barack Obama was one of the most tech-savvy world leaders of his time and certainly a well-connected US President. He was often pictured with his iPhone and was the one who created the Twitter handle @POTUS in 2007 at the beginning of his ten years in office.
For most world leaders, the smartphone of choice also appears to be the iPhone, preferred by Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May (who only parted ways with her Blackberry in 2016). Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is widely recognized as a technophile and has previously publicly endorsed electric car giant Tesla, was well known to have been addicted to his iPhone.
However, his successor, Scott Morrison, has a team that is unable to work photoshop. His family portrait was seen to be have been doctored, with the Australian Prime Minister given two left feet (a hidden metaphor there surely), leaving Morrison to request, “I didn’t ask for the shoeshine, but if you must Photoshop, please focus on the hair (lack thereof), not the feet!”
The iPhone is also loved by Indian PM Narendra Modi, who cannot be accused of avoiding technology, more so than most as he has been accused of spying on those using his own Narendra Modi App.
Donald Trump also—surprisingly—uses an iPhone, contrary to his tweets urging people to boycott Apple products during his presidential campaign and has managed to survive a number of attacks on his leadership based on his overuse of social media and allegations of Russian Facebook interference in his 2016 campaign.
Other world leaders might just see themselves as too important to need a mobile or a high-tech one at that. For instance, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly doesn’t own one, while Kim Jong-un does. However, as would be expected for a country that has banned luxury imports, there is no diamond-embedded iPhone in sight, just a trusty old HTC smartphone.
But their tech savviness isn’t just limited to hand-held tech. In Macron’s election campaign, some strong-arm cyber tactics were needed to block Russian interference, including multiple fake email accounts and fake content used as traps for hackers, which proves some world leaders are forward thinking in their tech.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Japan’s cybersecurity minister Yoshitaka Sakurada, who freely admitted to never having ever used computer – yet is still tasked with ensuring Japanese citizens’ devices are safe. So, it’s best not to entrust a USB full of information in his hands then.
So, while their use of smartphones suggests world leaders have eventually reached the same stage of tech usage as their smartphone-using citizens, it is often the case that some technology adoption hasn’t. For instance, VoIP would allow smarter conference and communication channels to other world leaders; however, this hasn’t yet been widely implemented, with most leaders preferring the multiple levels of security protocol on standard phone lines to talk to other world leaders. At a time of increasingly integrated world politics, more integrated communication channels between world leaders might yet soon appear. In the near future, a World Summit meeting might well take place via a Google Hangout. Who knows?