Bay Area Should Model Itself After City-States Hong Kong and Singapore, Futurist Said

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — “The Bay area is a city-state, and we should act like one,” said Paul Saffo, a technology futurist who explores and predicts long term change. “We need to think like a region, not a mere collection of cities.”

Saffo, managing director of foresight at Discern Analytics, said it was time for the Bay Area to rethink its relations with counties, states, and even the rest of the world. “The new order is not about shifting boundaries, it’s about dissolving boundaries,” he said in his keynote speech at the 2013 State of the Valley conference in San Jose.

Paul Saffo

Paul Saffo speaks at the 2013 State of the Valley Conference in San Jose on February 8. (Photo: Rachel Estabrook/ Peninsula Press.)

In Saffo’s view, the Bay Area is already at the forefront of this changing mindset. “Digital technology is the solvent leeching glue out of governmental structures,” he said.

According to Saffo’s projections, the real nexus of power this century is moving from nation states — large political bodies representing nations — to city-states, or smaller political units focused on cooperative action.

“Powerful regions are the new basic unit of governance in the 21st century,” he argued in his speech at Parkside Hall. The event was sponsored by the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, an organization that works with local businesses, governments and community leaders to assess and improve the area.

As power devolves from state to local governments, Saffo said the key is to think like a region, not a collection of cities.

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