SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Revolutions of the future will happen faster and be easier to start, but they'll also be harder to stop, a foreign policy and technology expert said Thursday.
Jared Cohen, former adviser to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton, said the old model for revolutionaries such as Lech Walesa, Nelson Mandela and Charles De Gaulle was to first become a leader, then a public figure.
Revolutions fueled by technology and social media will reverse that model, first creating celebrities who will quickly need to develop leadership skills.
"At the end of the day, you still need people to sit down and write a constitution," said Cohen, 30.
Cohen, the director of Google Ideas and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, spoke Thursday evening on the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and the technological revolution at Augustana College as part of the Boe Forum on Public Affairs.
Cohen said technology doesn't start revolutions but it accelerates them and revolutions that used to begin in private now begin in public.
The recent revolution in Egypt, which spread through online social networks and mosques, showed that organizing is not just done through technology but also through physical means.
"The two tools combined to push unprecedented numbers of people in the streets," he said.
Societal changes could bring out a new type of protester who is "physically shy but virtually courageous," who might have a day job and do some online protesting during their lunch break.
Cohen said that in the next 10 years, 5 billion people will join the online community, mostly from the parts of world ridden with greatest number of challenges.
He said most will connect on mobile devices before they ever use a computer, and they'll be able to develop and distribute their own content without an intermediary,
Other technological improvements such as real-time voice recognition and language translation will bring collaboration to unparalleled proportions.
"Cultural barriers, language barriers, socio-economic barriers are going to be broken down by some of these new features," he said.
Cohen is the youngest speaker in the Boe Forum's 17-year history. Past speakers include former President George H.W. Bush, former Vice President Al Gore, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Queen Noor of Jordan and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.