In the 1990s, Silicon Valley said the Internet would democratize tech and empower everybody. Almost 30 years later, while parts of that vision have succeeded, overall those of us in the tech world have failed to deliver.
It’s not hard to find examples of how some tech has been democratized – just take a look at YouTube and TikTok. But the jobs and wealth generated by the Internet hasn’t benefited communities from Harlem to Harlan County. In fact, in the last 30 years our society has basically written off these communities. And while tech companies aren’t the only ones responsible for our economy, in the world in which they have become a dominant player, wages for most workers have stagnated for decades.
In the next 20-30 years, robots and AI, augmented and virtual reality, digital fabrication, and other forms of emerging tech will radically transform our economy even more than the Internet did, creating a staggering amount of wealth. But as things stand now, few of the jobs and wealth generated by emerging tech will go to communities who are struggling to survive – and who knows what impact robots and AI will have on our society.
Makers All is an initiative to figure out how communities can shape the direction of emerging tech so black, white, and brown families in every community can thrive and prosper.
About Anders Schneiderman
Anders Schneiderman is the founder and director of Makers All. He is a sociologist turned techie, with over 30 years of experience as a developer, software project manager, adult tech trainer, and tech writer for labor unions, startups, large corporations, nonprofits, and government.
Email: aschneiderman a.tt. makersall do.t. org