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“Election Day this year turned into a very long and tense election week, with many Americans glued to their screens anxiously awaiting the outcome,” he wrote, in a blog post Saturday. “It has been commonplace to hear pundits speculate that we have seldom seemed such a divided country. If true, this also makes a different proposition even more self-evident. If we are to move forward as a nation, we must build new bridges to close the gaps that divide us.”
Microsoft believes that Americans share more common ground than many pundits acknowledge, particularly around technology, according to Smith.
The Microsoft president cited the coronavirus pandemic as highlighting the importance of access to technology. “Broadband has become the electricity of the 21st century, vital for everything from patients needing telehealth consultations to children who are attending school from home,” he wrote. “Today, too many rural families find there is no broadband service available, while too many underprivileged urban families find no broadband service that is affordable.”
Broadband has also been cited as a post-election priority by tech policy group the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA).
In its 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, the FCC noted that, while a growing number of Americans have access to high-speed broadband, more work needs to be done, particularly in rural areas and Tribal Lands.
Microsoft’s Smith also highlighted the importance of digital skills, particularly in areas such as AI and digital analytics. “We enter the 2020s following two decades of declining and then stagnating employer investments in workforce training, and post-secondary education that has left too many students confronting debt without a degree,” he wrote. “We need to make digital skills available to everyone.”
He also discussed the importance of using technology to protect the democratic process and fundamental freedoms. “More than ever, we need ongoing technology innovation and stronger partnerships across the public and private sectors to better defend democracy.”
Smith also said that legislation around electronic privacy has not kept pace with advancements in technology. “We continue to live with a national electronic privacy law enacted in the dial-up era of the 1980s, and when it comes to issues such as safeguards for facial recognition, we have no national law at all,” he wrote. “We need new laws fit for the future.”
In 2016, following the election of President Trump, Microsoft also published a blog post on the need for the U.S. to find ways to move forward together.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers