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The Positive Potential of the Internet

The Internet

There has been plenty of bad news about the Internet lately. Big tech spying on us, fake news, etc. I am optimistic these issues will get resolved, although it will take time. Meanwhile, there are a lot of good things happening in the world of the Internet and big tech. On election day we had a lot of disasters from the ancient voting machines, broken procedures, long lines, and a 150-year-old approach to counting the votes. 

Meanwhile the northern European country of Estonia has been using Internet voting for more than ten years. They have shown how an Internet attitude can make voting fast, convenient, private, secure, and verifiable. While the U.S. has pioneered Internet search and social media, Estonia has focused on creating a digital economy with strong digital governance, including voting and most any interaction needed with the government. While we continue to argue about Internet voting, Estonia has been doing it for years without issues. Instead of waiting for hours in a line, Estonian citizens can vote from home or while traveling anywhere in the world. While we wait for weeks to get final voting tabulation, Estonia gets the results almost immediately after the polls close. (Yes, they still have polls and people can vote with a paper ballot if they choose).

Just imagine what the American government of the future might look like if the engineers that brought us the modern web spent a little less time creating web-connected organic juicers and a bit more time redesigning our obsolete paper-obsessed bureaucracy. Estonia offers us a vision of this incredible future.


There is much more coming about how the Internet can streamline our antiquated healthcare system. Amazon, along with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway, has launched a new healthcare company headed by CEO Atul Gawande, one of the top thought leaders in healthcare. Yesterday, Google has stepped into the ring (again) with the hiring of David Feinberg, head of renowned Geisinger Health in Pennsylvania. Feinberg co-authored ProvenCare: How to Deliver Value-Based Healthcare the Geisinger Way, which I also highly recommend. Details are not out yet but, like the Amazon group, Google has a lot of employees, currently about 85,000. The cost and productivity hit from our inefficient and not always effective healthcare system gets the attention of management, financially and morally. If big tech can give us answers and products coordinated among millions of servers on the Internet, can they make a dent in healthcare? I have no doubt. Stay tuned.