When media changes, the world changes. We live in a world where the Pope and the President are on Twitter and Rabbis communicate on Facebook. We live today in a time, which some call the Fourth Industrial Revolution. A period which is distinct in the speed, scale and force at which it transforms production, distribution and consumption. Technology is changing our lives and that of future generations; reshaping the economic, social, ecological, religious and cultural contexts in which we live. Without doubt, today, in one day, more information is going through the Internet then all the information collected in over one hundred years of printed books.
Today, we are witnessing political change resulting from the new way we communicate and exchange information with one another. However, it is all not always for the better. Social media has become a favoured tool for the communication to, and recruitment of, terrorist groups. For the first time, non-edited news content has become available for mass consumption, causing political turbulence and uncertainty. Images of young children beheading innocent men have been beamed across our TVs. We are being presented with a new world order.
Ultimately, Islamic-terrorism, matched with the momentum of the far-right, sweeping across Europe, provides a unique challenge to world leaders. For ISIS, its new Islamic ideology, spread across the Internet, appeals to the masses. Suddenly we have fully radicalised extremists who have never left their own town.
However, the Internet, like any other creation, whether physical or spiritual, can be used to advance humanity, to bring peace and health, freedom and prosperity and education and understanding. Five years ago, we decided to create the CERprize to award start-up companies, and individuals, who have created working apps and sites which will bring benefit to humanity and civilization, in the spirit of our beliefs of 'tikun olam' - to better the world through the Internet. The worthy winners did just that. This year was extra special as we announced the winners at a Gala Event in Munich held in conjunction with the Digital Life Design Conference (DLD).
Our winner, German-based Academy, a simple and safe communication aid for teachers, parents and students creates a virtual classrooms can. The need for education to be up to scratch with technology has never been so important. If we neglect our children, there is the risk that they will fall out of the education system and into the hands of evil. Each of the winners in their own way made this world a better place and showcased the power that an app can have in improving the world.
The Internet gives us a choice, for good or for bad. As 2016 showed, Europe is being pulled down by the threat of extremism and the rise of the extreme right, but there is also opportunity for growth. As religious leaders we must promote the positives. The Internet and our winners of this prize is the prime example. We must stand up and realise that the Internet is a powerful medium. Use it right and we can make the world a better place.