Technology Does Not Level the Playing Field
July 12, 2016
Among the many articles about how too much automation of the labor force will devastate humanity, I found another piece that describes how technology as tools are a false equalizer. The Atlantic published the piece titled: “Technology, The Faux Equalizer.” What we tend to forget is that technology consists of tools made by humans. These tools have consistently become more complicated as society has advanced. The article acknowledges this by having us remember one hundred years ago, when electricity was a luxurious novelty. Only the wealthy and those with grid access used electricity, but now it is as common as daylight.
This example points to how brand new technology is only available to a limited percentage of people. Technological process and social progress are not mutually inclusive. Another example provided, notes that Gutenberg’s printing press did not revolutionize printing for society, but rather the discovery of cheaper materials to make books. Until technology is available for everyone it is not beneficial:
“Just compare the steady flow of venture capital into Silicon Valley with the dearth of funding for other technological projects, like critical infrastructure improvements to water safety, public transit, disintegrating bridges, and so on. ‘With this dynamic in mind, I would suggest that there is greater truth to the opposite of Pichai’s statement,’ said Andrew Russell, a professor at Stevens Institute of Technology. ‘Every jump in technology draws attention and capital away from existing technologies used by the 99 percent, which therefore undermines equality, and reduces the ability for people to get onto the ‘playing field’ in the first place.’”
In science-fiction films depicting the future, we imagine that technology lessens the gap between everyone around the world, but we need to be reminded that the future is now. Only a few people have access to the future, compare the average lifestyle of Europeans and Americans versus many African and Middle East nations. History tells us that this is the trend we will always follow.
Oh, oh. We thought technology would fix any problem. Perhaps technology exacerbates old sores and creates new wounds? Just an idle question.