Emily A. Vogels, Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson at Pew Research: “A large share of experts and analysts worry that people’s technology use will mostly weaken core aspects of democracy and democratic representation in the coming decade. Yet they also foresee significant social and civic innovation between now and 2030 to try to address emerging issues.
In this new report, technology experts who shared serious concerns for democracy in a recent Pew Research Center canvassing weigh in with their views about the likely changes and reforms that might occur in the coming years.
Overall, 697 technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists responded to the following query:
Social and civic innovation and its impact on the new difficulties of the digital age: As the Industrial Revolution swept through societies, people eventually took steps to mitigate abuses and harms that emerged. For instance, new laws were enacted to make workplaces safer and protect children; standards were created for product safety and effectiveness; new kinds of organizations came into being to help workers (e.g., labor unions) and make urban life more meaningful (e.g., settlement houses, Boys/Girls Clubs); new educational institutions were created (e.g., trade schools); household roles in families were reconfigured.
Today’s “techlash” illuminates the issues that have surfaced in the digital era. We seek your insights as to whether and how reforms to ease these problems and others might unfold.
The question: Will significant social and civic innovation occur between now and 2030? By “social and civic innovation,” we mean the creation of things like new technology tools, legal protections, social norms, new or reconfigured groups and communities, educational efforts and other strategies to address digital-age challenges.
Some 84% of these respondents say there will be significant social and civic innovation between now and 2030, while 16% say there will not be significant social and civic innovation in the timeframe.
Asked a follow-up question about whether humans’ use of technology will lead to or prevent significant social and civic innovation, 69% of these expert respondents said they expect that technology use will help significantly mitigate problems, 20% predicted that technology use will effectively prevent significant mitigation of problems and 11% responded that it is likely that technology use will have no effect on social and civic innovation.
This is a nonscientific canvassing of experts, based on a non-random sample. The results represent only the opinions of individuals who responded to the query and are not projectable to any other population. The methodology underlying this canvassing is elaborated here. The bulk of this report covers these experts’ written answers explaining their responses.
Respondents in this canvassing sound three broad themes about the changing technology landscape and how it will impact citizens’ political and social activities.
First, they predict that overall connectivity between people and their devices will increase as more digital applications emerge that allow people to create, share and observe information. This trend could accelerate as people employ smart agents and bots to interact with other people or other people’s avatars. These experts say persistent and expanded human connectivity will affect the way people engage with each other as citizens and influence how they work to build groups aimed at impacting policy and politics. Some argue this will change the way people interact with democratic institutions….(More)”.