Tech and labor: Civic Imagination, US 2040

Written in: 1/27/2017

In 2040 governments of the world, particularly Europe, will have pushed the Internet giants to adopt the “right to be forgotten” in the United States as well. Internet users will be much more versed on what constitutes privacy, and how much their personal data is worth. In 2040, people will be properly compensated for all of their user-generated content online, as well as for the personal data that online platforms sell to ad agencies. We will have developed algorithms to properly detect fake news. The US government will have publicly funded a non-profit online space that competes with the giants for the purpose of fruitful public discourse, without the commercial imperatives that currently drive these privately-owned spaces.

I hope that by 2040, we will have figured out a way of properly regulating both “weak” and “strong” Artificial Intelligence, in order to keep it up to speed in protecting agency, ethics, safety and privacy in the same way that we have regulated aircraft and factories. Also in 2040, Venture Capitalists will have figured out that many of the business models that they have so heavily invested in are not sustainable in the long-term, particularly after the strict regulation on privacy, or on insisting that the peer-to-peer economy compensates their workers aptly and pay their due taxes.

Lastly, in 2040 we will have had a meaningful definition of how much automation should replace human labor, and how to be moving toward an economy that is less exploitative of those humans that always work within the machines. In 2040 we will have placed humans at the center of this conversation: we will realize that the best way to continue innovation is always to think what it is going to do for humans. Also understanding that our role as developers of information technologies does not only affect us here, but has repercussions across the planet. In 2040 we will have understood that we need to have diverse teams participating in the creation of these technologies, in order to create inclusive and just systems.

Data & Society Research Institute