Since my arrival in Estonia nearly a year ago, I have made support for innovation in collaboration between my country and Estonia a signature theme. I have visited long-established, as well as new, entrepreneurs to learn of their ideas and projects, their successes and their challenges. From mobile law enforcement drug testing devices to new e-governance tools; from business management software to high-tech fabrics sewn into safety clothing articles; Estonia is an obvious partner for equally inventive Americans seeking to build better “mouse traps.” Technology, by itself, tends to be neutral. New things will be invented as long as humans walk the earth. But what use we put technology to is anything but neutral. We can use it well, or we can use it to devastating effect.
In Estonia and in the United States information and communications technology and the use of cyber space are among the hottest fields of research and development. A few weeks ago I spoke to an audience at Tallinn’s IT College about cyber security, including the cyber attack Estonia has had to suffer several years ago. Today I wrote an op-ed about the recent highly dangerous and irresponsible breach of communications security of purported U.S. diplomatic reporting. Unfortunately, modern technology has aided in this dispicable act. Those responsible claim they seek to inform, but instead are causing serious harm to individuals and to a good nation, whose representatives are working hard around the world to keep its citizens and its friends — sometimes even its adversaries — safe. Bottom line: technology puts amazing new tools into our hands that can make our lives better, longer, more exciting, and to protect us from harm. But in those same hands, technology can also be misused to hurt. Harnessing innovations and technology only for doing good and defending ourselves effectively from their misuse still often illudes us.