(Originally broadcast on November 17, 2022)
QUESTION: So the first question is going to be about, like, the technology issue and the sustainability issue, that – the U.S. is the world leader in both sides, right. How do you think these two issue can go well together, technology and sustainability?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I think they’re absolutely – that technology is absolutely critical to sustainability, and we see this in so many of the innovations that our countries are trying to work on together. We were talking with colleagues here about, for example, electric vehicles. And that innovation in and of itself is going to have a profound impact on our ability to have genuinely sustainable economies, to deal with the climate challenge that we have to deal with because it’s the one existential challenge that all countries face.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you so much. And what about the blockchain technology? How do you think it can help enhance, like, the security level in people life?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: I think the most important thing to think about when it comes to technology is it’s not inherently good or bad. It’s what we make of it, how we use it. What are the rules that apply? What values – to the extent technology has values, what values come along with it? And that’s why it’s so important that countries come together and agree on the basic rules for how technology is used; to make sure that it’s used to advance people, to advance freedom, not to hold people back, not to hold them down.
If we do that, whether it’s AI, whether it’s blockchain, whether it’s quantum, whether it’s any of the new technologies we’re talking about, then we’ll have progress for everyone. We have to make sure that it’s inclusive, that it brings everyone in. And ultimately, what’s so powerful about technology when it’s used in the right way is it connects people, and those connections hopefully produce good things.
QUESTION: Okay. Last question is about the workforce environment. Another trend is about the Great Resignation. How would you suggest the company and – to adapt themself, and what type of business do you think can thrive to life during this post-COVID era?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: So I think all of us are learning from the COVID experience, and we had to adapt during that time, and one of the things that we had to adapt to was working at home. And one of the most interesting questions we’re looking at now, all of us, is: what lessons do we take from this that apply even after COVID is over? And I think there’s a real demand from people around the world, including young people, who want to have more flexibility, who want the ability, for example, to work at home. But it’s not just young people – it’s people of all ages who want to find ways to get a better work-life balance, who want to be able to have the flexibility to spend time with their family – or maybe their young children, maybe their elderly parents – and technology can enable that and having these flexibilities built in can enable that.
At the same time, one of the things I hear is that people also like the connections, the human connections that they have from being in —
QUESTION: Like this. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Like this.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: And also being in a workplace together. And it’s also important, I think, often, in many companies for people to learn and to grow, to have mentors, to have people that they can work with. So my own sense is it’s a balance. We want to create more flexibility for people. At the same time, I don’t think that people really want to eliminate a common workspace or common workplace because there’s so many good things that come with that, too. So it’s how do you get the balance right, how do you find enough flexibility.
Now, the other thing is there’s a competition for talent. So companies have to look at that; governments have to look at that. And we want to create the most positive possible workplace of the future. That’s true also at the State Department, where I work. We’re trying to attract the best people, and part of that —
QUESTION: Like hybrid working?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: And hybrid working is a piece of that, and it’s something that we’re learning from the last couple of years about and trying to apply that to the future.
QUESTION: Okay. Last question. What do you feel about, like – after, like, long time that we don’t have a global conference like face to face —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yeah.
QUESTION: This is at, like – in three years’ time. But what do you think?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Oh, it’s —
QUESTION: How do you feel?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: It’s wonderful to be back actually seeing, talking to colleagues from around the world. And look, we did adapt during COVID. Everyone got used to Zoom more or less.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: But there’s nothing that replaces the face to face. It makes a huge difference. And I think people are having – finding a lot of joy just in actually being back together again. We have a lot of hard challenges that we’re working on, and I think our ability to actually make progress is even greater when we get to be in the same place at the same time.
QUESTION: Glad to hear that and very – pleasure – my pleasure to meet you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.