The Importance of Technology in Society: Advice for Policymakers

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Hit Refresh" by Satya Nadella. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What if everyone in the world had internet access? What if the world had more researchers and scientists?

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella daydreams like this. He envisions a world in which technology advances freely and benefits everyone. To that end, he offers some advice to policymakers in his book Hit Refresh as he discusses the importance of technology in society.

Read more to learn what could be done—and what the world could be like in the future.

Technology in Society

In his book, most of Nadella’s discussion on the ethical development of technology focuses on what companies can do to empower everyone. However, he also offers advice to political leaders for fostering tech innovation to improve society. He believes that governments can “hit refresh” and fuel growth and productivity by applying education and innovation to a country’s key economic sectors. To do this, he suggests that policymakers do three things to demonstrate they understand the importance of technology in society:

  • Give all citizens access to the internet and cloud computing services. Nadella writes that one way of doing this is by being more open to foreign direct investments in telecommunications and broadband.
  • Keep up with the times by creating policies that allow for the quick adoption of new technologies.
  • Nurture human capital and develop a knowledge-based economy by improving digital literacy.
The Best Policies for Boosting Innovation

Nadella’s tips are just a few of the overwhelming policies that governments have to consider when considering how to fuel growth through innovation. To help governments determine the best course of action, experts narrowed down the best evidence-based practices for boosting innovation:

1) Give tax incentives for research and development. Research shows that such incentives increase innovation and productivity.

2) Open up trade. Research suggests that free trade has positive benefits like increasing competition and thus dividing the cost of innovation among more players.

3) Allow more skilled migrant workers into the country. Funding is useless if there’s no one to do the innovating. Research suggests that increasing the number of researchers and scientists correlates with an increase in innovation.
The Importance of Technology in Society: Advice for Policymakers

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  • How Satya Nadella brought Microsoft back from its decline
  • Actionable advice to help you reinvigorate your company
  • A look at the ethical responsibilities of tech companies

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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