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Former US President Barack Obama speaks at Bits & Pretzels 2019 about equality, climate change and the break-up of big tech companies like Facebook and google. An overview of his positions.

Barack Hussein Obama II was the 2009th President of the United States from 2017 to 44. He is a lawyer specializing in US constitutional law and has been a member of the Democratic Party since 1992, for which he became a member of the Illinois Senate in 1997. From 2005 to 2008 he was a Junior Senator. He became the first African American to move to the White House in 2009 and was confirmed in office in the 2012 presidential election. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize.

There are many strong women in politics right now, including in Congress. What about equality between men and women?

Michelle has raised my awareness of this topic for 26 years. As a manager, you have to recognize the problem and then make the appropriate decisions. Men always think they know what they're talking about, even when they have no idea Women are, however, much more cautious, so they have to be encouraged.

And how do the male employees think?

I've told the men in the White House to shut up and listen. But it always takes a while for them to learn. diversity in Economy, Politics and Society is not an act of charity, but a motor for excellence. Companys are under high social pressure: If you want to attract outstanding specialists to implement innovations, you have to focus on diversity.

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How do you tackle such changes?

You have to recognize the problem as a manager and then top down decide. Anything else will not work.

Why are changes so difficult?

The problem starts with the education system: there are always complaints that women don't want STEM subjects studieren. But that falls far short of the mark. When my daughters chose math courses at school, I noticed that women learn very differently than men, they benefit much more from group work because they are much more team-oriented and communicative.

In order to get women excited about tech jobs in which they have so far been underrepresented, you have to start with changes in the education system. But I see that a new generation is growing up, which demands equality much more naturally than the previous generations.

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Greta Thunberg is a young woman who is preparing to change the world. What can you say about them?

I met Greta Thunberg. She is exceptional. But it is very sad that such a burden is on a sixteen year old. We may boys People not make it so difficult - also and especially old people like me. These are issues for which we adults are responsible. I admire your strength and perseverance. She always talks a lot clear and clearly about the current climate crisis, is the Problems always aware. That's a clear one message to all of us to do more.

For example, she asked me: Do politicians actually understand the scientific aspects behind climate change? And I had to admit: 98 percent of the time they don't. The problem is that politicians don't always just lead, they often just follow. That is why the fight against climate change is also growing Significance by young entrepreneurs with expertise.

But you shouldn't reduce the Fridays-for-Future movement to one person: there are Gretas everywhere. I see Courage, and I see Innovation, and I see idealism. We are in a situation where we are asked to do something. This is also important: we need all hands on deck. The good thing is: We no longer have to convince these people, they have recognized that climate change is real.

What can entrepreneurs do specifically to bring about the necessary change?

We need technical ways find ways to reduce our C02 emissions. Therefore fields are like clean ones Energy and better water use show great promise for Founders. The corresponding start-ups to earn therefore also good Money. The potential for green Technology is there, but it is not enough, just technical Solutions only to find they would also have to be by politicians and public Opinions be accepted. In order to counteract the global climate crisis, we must Boy Businesses, governments and society work together.

There are also a variety of entrepreneurial innovations that our Welt will bring further. I am thinking in particular of the artificial areas Intelligence and machine learning, for example in traffic and urban planning, in medicine or in housing, can provide valuable services to society.

Do companies take on the role of governments?

I learned that as President: Adaptation requires that the government and the public demand the introduction of these technologies. This also justifies subsidies for renewable energies: just like now the solar and wind industries, oil, gas and coal also benefited from strong government subsidies and influence at the beginning of electrification. We cannot expect such a big change to happen without government support.

Unfortunately, politicians often have to be made aware of the innovations that are necessary. You have to be persistent as an entrepreneur, in every respect. And in the end, what's useful prosperity brings, also to society. And change is sometimes easier than you think.

How important is Silicon Valley for the development of innovation?

The Silicon Valley ecosystem is very easy to copy, even if there is not enough in outside of Silicon Valley Startups is invested and much of the venture capital only reaches a handful of young companies. Universities in particular are an important anchor for building a start-up culture and getting involved in research invest. Without access to Capital but all this does nothing.

And there have been fewer startups and IPOs in the US lately. One reason for this is the dominance of large corporations, especially from the Sillicon Valley, which leave less and less space for new companies.

Do tech companies like Google or Facebook be smashed?

You have to at least talk about how more competition could be possible. Managers need to realize that they are Trust the public need - especially when it comes to future topics such as artificial intelligence. At Changeprocesses, you have to make sure that you take everyone with you. Innovative companies often have great ones ideas, but sometimes they don't think things through to the end.

Especially digital changes make many people Anxiety and that leads to conflicts that we must not ignore. At the same time, it is time – on both sides of the Atlantic – to think back to a healthy one Combination out of common sense and personal responsibility. Countries like Singapore, Norway or the USA at other times are successful mainly because there is a combination of freedom and Sinn for the common good.

Entrepreneurial thinking and community spirit - how do they go together?

Some companies are better at this than others. In fact, I have friends, or shall we say people I know, among the top executives in Silicon Valley who subscribe to the libertarian culture and don't Taxes want to pay. That scares me. Because entrepreneurial culture starts with a society that invests in its children.

Silicon Valley in particular was created by the good schools and top universities in California, which were financed from tax money. I'm a little worried that we'll think all the great ideas will be in Future continue to shoot up out of the ground without investing in our education system.

Should regulation interfere with entrepreneurial development?

Strong competition authorities are needed. It is like a forest that sometimes has to be balanced to make room for new trees. Without adequate regulation, the undesirable effects are in danger. Startup founders love this romantic idea of ​​being successful without being regulated. And you have to admit too early interventions in the development of young companies can be just as problematic.

However: If you want to see a country that is completely libertarian, you should go to failed states like Somalia without roads and police travel. This shows that things are not going well without regulation.

In the face of anti-democratic and nationalist developments, it is time to regain awareness of how well society is doing. The bottom line is that our societies have never been healthier, better educated, more prosperous, and more tolerant and diversified than they are today.

Where does optimism come from?

If your name is Barack Hussein Obama and you made it into the White House with that name, then you can only be optimistic. Without Optimism I would never have come there.

What is the life of a US president like after the presidency?

In our society, it's considered chic not to sleep: sleep is an absolutely undervalued thing - I only realized that after the end of my presidency. And also with my wife and mine Family I spend more time now. And I noticed that I can now deal more intensively with a problem. As a president, you often just react. Today I can pick out certain topics that are close to my heart. Such as climate change and sustainability.

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