Larry Downes: “Can tech fix its own future?” (Washington Post)
Is technology-based innovation, long seen as our best hope for improving quality of life, developing sustainable energy sources and equalizing global economic opportunities, actually making things worse? That, at least, has become an increasingly popular view in the past few years. It’s now fashionable to blame social ills old, new and still to come on the relentless spread of disruptive tech. Start-up culture, we are told, is misogynistic, ageist, amoral and deeply irresponsible. Social media is “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works” and “a direct threat” to democracy. Smartphones are dangerously “addictive.” It’s not just anti-tech activists who are feeding flames of discontent. Many of Silicon Valley’s first-generation Internet tycoons have now become some of its most vocal critics — especially for new products and services launched by a younger generation of start-ups.