Sadiq Khan delivers powerful discussion at SXSW

Carlos Garcia

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan made his SXSW debut on Monday to a full crowd at the Austin Convention Center where he gave his keynote speech about the role technology plays in urbanized cities.

“We should be afraid of the strength social media has over our democracies,” Khan said. “We must do more to protect the people online.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced his keynote presentation by speaking about the caveats of the”4th Industrial Revolution” which he claims is the growth of technology. He said that the reason why technology not only brings innovation, but also division, is because of the impact changing technologies can have in short matter of time.

According to data from Pitchbook, London is the United Kingdom’s biggest capital technology firms and investors. Sadiq Khan sat down with the editor of HuffPost, Lydia Polgreen, to discuss London and its role in the landscape of technology.

“Technology cannot be unmade,” Khan said, as he cited this impact as creating a polarizing environment between jobs, politics and society.

Sadiq Khan was critical of social media companies as he asked them to step up and increase protocols to protect the integrity of the web. In the middle of his speech, Khan took time to read death threats he had received in the form of tweets within the past year.

“@billwall69 I say kill the mayor of London and you’ll be rid of one Muslim terrorist,” Khan said.

He said he did not want to portray himself as victim but that he merely wanted to shed light on the amount of hate speech currently present in our society online.

Though the london mayor warned those present for his presentation about the dangerous of not having “rules” set for technology advancements, he took time to praise the positive things that come from leaders and innovators pushing for technological change.

“[We have been] utilizing data to make sure public services are more efficient,” Khan said.  He said that London is trying to push for internet access to become a public good and is structuring home models around the idea of providing communal wi-fi access.

He said he wants to harness the power of change and innovation to make London the most a inclusive city in the world.

“[I want] to create a place where everyone is welcomed,” Khan said. “Everyone must play by the rules.”

Khan touched on the fact of how minorities are treated in London. He stressed the idea of providing opportunities for those that missed out because of uncontrollable strains set by society’s growth.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is the first muslim to be mayor in major western capital. He structured his keynote speech around the ideas of populism and how cities can ensure that advances in technology are utilised for the benefit of everyone in society.