While the impact of the digital divide on politicians & law enforcement may differ slightly from its impact on the general public, it’s effects are no less far reaching; literacy is still an issue but policy becomes a game changing addition.
Silicon Valley luminaries are easily mocked as having a precious, narrow take on the world. People in the tech industry can’t see past themselves, critics often charge; they act as if the products they build sit at the center of everything with no regard for the impact they make in society.
But this year revealed, the techies were right: Technology did rule many issues in 2015. And not only did tech dominate the news, it often moved too quickly for politicians, regulators, law enforcement officials and the media to understand its implications. This year we began to see the creaking evidence of our collective ignorance about the digital age.
This sorry showing ought to prompt a resolution for the new year. In 2016, let’s begin to appreciate the dominant role technology now plays in shaping the world, and let’s strive to get smarter about how we think about its effects.
“The pace of technological change has never been faster, so it’s more important for people to understand things that are harder to keep on top of,” said Julius Genachowski, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and now a partner at the Carlyle Group investment firm.
That may sound tough to do – but fortunately, it is not impossible.
First, to understand the problem, consider the year’s headlines. From terrorism to protests of over police abuse, from the scandal at Volkswagen to global tensions over energy and the climate, from public Internet access to jobs displacement by automation. Technology was central to just about every major news story that came across the wire.
The news often highlighted a failure to grasp the effects of change. For instance, presidential candidates and law enforcement authorities were at a loss to explain how they might prevent terrorists from using social media to inspire attacks around the globe. When they tried to do so, they failed to exercise basic digital acumen – see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton calling to shut down parts of the Internet, a policy idea many experts dismissed as unrealistic, if not impossible.
The media, meanwhile, was blindsided by the rise of movements buoyed by social media. Then there were the regulators, who fared little better at understanding the implications of technology. Volkswagen’s disclosure of cheating on emissions tests. Officials appeared similarly surprised by the unabated rise of the ride-hailing service Uber.
The headlines of 2015 highlight a collective failure to anticipate the reach of technology. “What you’re seeing is an anxiety over how technology is changing things,” said Aneesh Chopra, first chief technology officer of the United States, 2009-2012, appointed by President Obama. Mr. Chopra cited an example in the debate over privacy, security and encryption technologies. Many technology companies, including Apple and Google, have expanded their use of encryption software to safeguard users’ information.
To which the Federal Bureau of Investigation responded angrily, saying this prevents authorities from searching a criminals’ mobile device even after obtaining a court order. And Members of Congress have accused tech companies of abetting terrorists and child pornographers.
But as the general public can turn to startup services such as ‘Master Level High-Tech Webinars’, efforts by the government to gain tech-industry expertise, which includes improvements in health care technology – are stalled in debates. The efforts, however, do suggest that if industry experts and lawmakers or regulators work together, they can find solutions to thorny problems introduced by new technologies.
Read Article (Farhad Manjoo | nytimes.com | 12/23/2015)
More and more federal & state department, agencies and organizations are realizing that Digital Literacy has reached a critical level. This article is an example of just pervasive the digital divide actually is.
But students and volunteers can only do so much to help those in need of assistance with technology. You can help address Digital Literacy by supporting our startup campaign. Visit our website and support us on Indiegogo.
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