This is the 11th “Future of the Internet” canvassing Pew Research Center and the Imagining the Internet Center have conducted together to get expert views about important digital issues. In this case the questions focused on the future of democracy, the problems digital technology has created and possible solutions to those problems. This is a nonscientific canvassing based on a non-random sample, so the results represent only the individuals who responded to the query and are not projectable to any other population.

Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center built a database of experts to canvass from several sources, including professionals and policy people from government bodies, technology businesses, think tanks and networks of interested networks of academics and technology innovators. The expert predictions reported here about the impact of digital technologies on key aspects of democracy and democratic representation and social and civic innovation came in response to a set of questions in an online canvassing conducted between July 3 and Aug. 5, 2019. In all, 697 technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists responded to at least one part of the battery of questions that are covered in this report. More on the methodology underlying this canvassing and the participants can be found here.

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.

Second, the experts responding here foresee a sharp increase in connected devices – for instance, wearables, household appliances, cars – that could connect people even more deeply with their environments. Indeed, some believe the added aspects of connectivity will extend as the environment itself becomes “smart” – as buildings, streets, plots of land and even bodies of water become loaded with sensors that feed data into analytics systems. This will impact the level of knowledge that people have about themselves and their environment. That, in turn, could drive policy change, as evidence-based insights about the world proliferate.

Third, most of these experts think the explosion of data generated by people, gadgetry and environmental sensors will affect the level of social and civic innovation in several potential directions. They argue that the existence of the growing trove of data – and people’s knowledge about its collection – will focus more attention on privacy issues and possibly affect people’s norms and behaviors. In addition, some say the way the data is analyzed will draw more scrutiny of the performance of algorithms and artificial intelligence systems, especially around issues related to whether the outcomes of data use are fair and explainable.

Two comments illustrate how these trends fit together and could prompt social and civic change.

Melissa Michelson, a professor of political science at Menlo College and author of “Mobilizing Inclusion: Redefining Citizenship Through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns,” wrote, “I expect that by 2030 we will see increased pushback against the negatives of the digital age in the form of new technologies, more fact-checking and more skepticism by everyday Americans. What I see happening already is that people are more cynical but also more likely to engage in various forms of political participation, both on- and offline. There is an increasing recognition of the need for citizens to be savvy consumers of online information, and increased efforts by educators to arm their students with the critical tools they need to separate truth from fact. There is increasing pressure on social media companies to flag or remove information that is unreliable or inappropriate. Younger people are much better able to critically analyze online information in this way, and older people will age out of the system. Meanwhile, more and more tools are becoming available for helping everyone push back against disinformation.”

Alexander B. Howard, independent writer, digital governance expert and open-government advocate, said, “I expect to see improvements to access to information through mobile computing devices, wireless broadband internet connections, open data from private and public sector sources and mature gestural and vocal interfaces. Virtual assistants driven by artificial intelligence and personal data will anticipate and augment the information needs of individuals, along with the descendants of today’s rudimentary chatbots. That which can be automated, will be. That in turn means access and equity and checking algorithmic discrimination in the provision of services or information will be a civil rights issue, along with the civil liberties challenges associated with increased data collection. Partisan polarization and increasing economic inequality may be mitigated by significant legislative changes, but dislocation and job loss from increased automation, when combined with environmental degradation driven by climate change, will put a premium on enacting reforms to the scale of the inbound challenges in the near term. Corporate influence on national governments will continue to present significant challenges to that occurring. Increasingly sophisticated disinformation that pollutes civic information ecosystems may be mitigated by the systematic development of more trust in validated sources, though illiberal political movements will create difficult conditions for the development of nuanced interventions that don’t simply result in censorship of independent media and press freedoms.”

Sorting through these predictions, several key types of innovations recurred across the experts’ answers in this canvassing. Here below is a rundown in three tables of 10 of the most commonly mentioned areas of reforms where these experts expect to see innovations. The lists are a catalog – not a consensus – of the range of anticipated advances that respondents in this canvassing propose will be likely by 2030. These statements generally represent themes found in this study. Many do not represent any sort of predominant point of view of the experts canvassed.

Experts expect there may be social and civic innovation by 2030 in social media, privacy issues and struggles against misinformation

AREA AND DESCRIPTION EXAMPLES OF ANTICIPATED INNOVATIONS

Social media

Some experts foresee a reckoning coming for social platform companies and leaders that could lead to large-scale changes.

  • Regulation will hold social media companies liable for users’ data privacy and safety.
  • The social platform companies of 2020 will be broken up or die out.
  • New platforms that do not rely on surveillance capitalism and targeted advertising will evolve.
  • A greater focus on honesty and accuracy on social media will emerge.
  • Social media platforms that focus on partisan interests will be developed.
Privacy issues

Actions will be taken to better protect people’s privacy online.

  • Regulation will be enacted to enforce digital privacy and punish abusers.
  • Public norms will change to focus more on protecting privacy online, and media forensics will be applied to tracking privacy infringement.
  • There will be greater utilization of smart contracts and privacy-by-design technology.
  • Cyberinsurance will be created to cover people who are victims of cybercrime, and there will be more-effective technology tools for privacy protection.
  • Users of free tools will be automatically informed and given choices when they are faced with a situation in which their personal information is the price of access.
  • Government-sponsored tools will be created to protect privacy.
  • The right to be forgotten will be embraced.
  • There will be less targeted advertising.
Misinformation

Due to growing concerns about the accuracy of information encountered online, efforts are being made to identify and address misinformation.

  • There will be more education focused on digital literacy.
  • Sites and apps will have methods to instantaneously fact-check information.
  • Greater societal pressure will demand more accuracy and truth.
  • Social norms will change so that skepticism is the starting point of information searching.
  • There will be better tools to help people fact-check information found online, and trusted groups of verifiers will form to assess information quality.
  • There will be more face-to-face meetings to confirm information.

Source: Non-scientific canvassing of technology experts conducted July 3-Aug. 5, 2019. N=697.
“Experts Predict More Digital Innovation by 2030 Aimed at Enhancing Democracy”

PEW RESEARCH CENTER and ELON UNIVERSITY’S IMAGINING THE INTERNET CENTER, 2020

Experts expect there may be social and civic innovation by 2030 in politics, social connectivity, health and artificial intelligence

AREA AND DESCRIPTION EXAMPLES OF ANTICIPATED INNOVATIONS

Political/government reform

Democratic activity and government policymaking will open to more citizen engagement, and public activism will grow.

  • Online voting systems will make voting more accessible; new online tools will allow citizens to voice their opinions directly to government.
  • The ways in which public funds are spent and campaigns and lobbying take place will become more transparent.
  • Policy changes will begin to be driven by digital civic engagement, as constituents are enabled to directly voice concerns.
  • Multinational forums will tackle global issues via digital treaties and stakeholder initiatives.
  • Online court systems/virtual juries will be created to decide civil cases.
  • A wide range of deliberative processes and hearings can be open on online platforms.
  • Some communities will embrace volunteerism in lieu of taxes.
Social connectivity

A number of innovations will help connect people and bring them together for a common purpose.

  • Like-minded people from around the world will more-effectively advocate for causes.
  • People will form online social/financial support networks.
  • Crowdfunding/small-dollar fundraising will continue to grow.
  • Local communities will connect through more-accessible information and resources online.
  • Local big data will be used to improve community living.
  • Virtual collaborations will become more commonplace.
  • Technology will identify available aid and coordinate getting it to those who need it.
  • Open source software, data and code will proliferate, helping ensure more-equal access to online resources and government processes.
Healthier living

Innovations will address physical and mental health; major change is coming for the health care sector.

  • Users will focus more on monitoring and limiting their screen time, and overall health monitoring will scale.
  • Tech-free leisure/vacations will become common.
  • Health communications will be improved.
  • Gene editing will go mainstream.
  • Individualized gene-based cancer treatments will be created.
  • Health care will more and more be seen as a human right.
  • Telemedicine and online counseling will increase.
  • Social norms will create more acceptance of mental illness and support for treatments.
Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to improve and be applied to improve human lives online and offline.

  • Virtual assistants and avatars will anticipate and address individuals’ wants and needs.
  • AI will help identify and thwart misinformation, and it will be used to create misinformation. A prime battleground will be deepfake videos.
  • Ethical AI will arise.
  • AI will increasingly be used to address health issues.
  • AI will be built to passively monitor tech platforms to identify if manipulation is occurring.
  • It will improve the quality of information available to those who govern; they will depend upon it for policy decisions.

Source: Non-scientific canvassing of technology experts conducted July 3-Aug. 5, 2019. N=697.
“Experts Predict More Digital Innovation by 2030 Aimed at Enhancing Democracy”

PEW RESEARCH CENTER and ELON UNIVERSITY’S IMAGINING THE INTERNET CENTER, 2020

Experts expect there may be social and civic innovation by 2030 in education, labor and jobs and environmental issues

AREA AND DESCRIPTION EXAMPLES OF ANTICIPATED INNOVATIONS

Education reform

Education systems will evolve in response to many multilayered societal changes.

  • Schools will focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and STEAM (adding “arts” to STEM).
  • People will be taught digital literacy from the earliest days of their lives.
  • There will be even greater access to knowledge online.
  • Lesson plans will be individualized, aimed to serve each persons’ needs.
  • More people will be educated online/remotely rather than in traditional school settings.
  • There will be improved access to education for at-risk and marginalized groups.
  • Ethics, compassion, diversity and moral behavior will play a larger role in curricula.
Labor and jobs

Business practices, individuals’ work lives and the larger economy will substantially change by 2030.

  • Market capitalism will be transformed
  • Autonomous technologies will take over more jobs and skills.
  • Work hours and “work week” expectations will change.
  • Work will be more specialized.
  • In order to keep up and stay employed, workers will need lifelong education.
  • Universal basic income will arise.
  • Commons-based economic models will emerge.
  • Better work-life balance will be possible.
  • Technology workers and gig economy workers will unionize, and digital tools will improve worker organization.
  • Workers will hold their employers accountable for harmful activities.
  • Money will be limited or abolished at least for some transactions.
  • Cooperative business initiatives will arise; this might reduce inequities and job displacement.
Environmental issues

Climate change and other environmental issues will inspire innovation out of necessity

  • Climate science will improve.
  • New tools will address environmental issues, all forms of environmental degradation.
  • There will be more environment-related entrepreneurship and voluntarism.
  • A “Green New Deal” will be struck.
  • Greater awareness of the environmental impact of technology will arise and be addressed.
  • New social and civic policies will be more environmentally conscious.

Source: Non-scientific canvassing of technology experts conducted July 3-Aug. 5, 2019. N=697.
“Experts Predict More Digital Innovation by 2030 Aimed at Enhancing Democracy”

PEW RESEARCH CENTER and ELON UNIVERSITY’S IMAGINING THE INTERNET CENTER, 2020

Here are some of the thoughtful expert answers about the issues they think will dominate debates about the future of democracy and some reforms that could emerge in the coming decade:

Ethan Zuckerman, director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media and co-founder of Global Voices, said, “Over the next 10 years, I hope to see a wave of new platforms consciously designed to evoke different civic behaviors. We need mass innovation in design of social tools that help us bridge fragmentation and polarization, bring diversity into our media landscapes and help find common ground between disparate groups. With these as conscious design goals, technology could be a powerful positive force for civic change. If we don’t take this challenge seriously and assume that we’re stuck with mass-market tools, we won’t see positive civic outcomes from technological tools.”

Esther Dyson, internet pioneer, journalist, entrepreneur and executive founder of Way to Wellville, wrote, “If tech doesn’t contribute to solving some of the problems it creates, we are doomed. Used well, it can enable us to do many good things more broadly and more cheaply: education, connecting people in real life (Meetup, all kinds of matching/finding platforms), and so on. But we need to recognize the motivations behind these services and make sure that metabolism/money does not overwhelm human connection.”

Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher for Microsoft, asked, “Social and civic activity will continue to change in response to technology use, but will it change its trajectory? … Can our fundamental human need for close community be restored or will we become more isolated, anxious and susceptible to manipulation? Social and civic innovation will be driven by people, with technology delivering and perhaps amplifying or obstructing social consensus.”

David Weinberger, senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said, “I see no reason to think that the current situation will change: Tech will cause problems that require innovative solutions and tech will be part of those solutions. Machine learning (ML) is right now an example of this, and given the pace of tech development, ML has at least another 10 years of serious innovation ahead of it. ML’s ability to discern patterns in areas we formerly – pridefully – thought were Free-Will Zones and thus beyond prediction makes it both a source of unwanted control and a tool for detecting hidden effects of bias and for designing more equitable systems. For example, right now most of our focus is, understandably, on preventing ML from amplifying existing biases, but it can also be a tool for measuring and adjusting outcomes to avoid those biases. (I don’t imagine that we will ever be able to relax our vigilance over ML’s outcomes.)”

These experts were also asked to comment about the likely degree of change and innovation that would occur by 2030 in these areas related to democracy and democratic representation:

  1. Modulate the power of large tech companies
  2. Lead to ethical advances in uses of algorithms
  3. Improve the economic stability of the news media
  4. Improve trust in democratic institutions
  5. Establish social media platforms where beneficial self-expression, connection and fact-based information are dominant
  6. Enable political activities that lead to progress in solving major policy problems
  7. Establish an acceptable balance between personal privacy and public safety
  8. Reduce worker vulnerabilities associated with technological disruptions
  9. Improve physical health
  10. Mitigate mental and emotional health issues tied to digital life.

The open-ended answers of the experts in this canvassing on each of these aspects of democratic life are woven into the text in the remainder of the report. In many cases, these experts’ answers address several issues in one extended response – for instance, by talking about their predictions for innovations that improve people’s physical well-being alongside their predictions about the future of journalism. For the sake of continuity and coherence, we grouped many of these multiple-subject responses into a single section of the report, rather than spreading them among multiple topics. Some of the key experts’ answers had this comprehensive sweep:

Doc Searls, internet pioneer and former editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, predicted that the internet will become more divided and business models will change, writing, “Don’t expect social media or its leading platforms to last. Their business model – tracking-based advertising – is morally corrupt and actually doesn’t work very well, either for advertisers or ads’ target populations. It’s best just at paying intermediaries. We will find far better ways to connect demand and supply than robotic algorithm-driven behavioral targeting based on surveillance. The most positive changes will be in the marketplace once new technical means for connecting customers and companies are in place and better signaling takes place across new channels. The least-positive changes will be politics and governance, but only because they will improve more slowly under digital conditions. As for news, whole new institutions are likely to emerge, as old-fashioned print and broadcast-based systems get replaced by streaming, podcasting and who knows what else over the net. What won’t change is people’s tendency toward gossip, tribalism driven by gossip and the ability of anybody to inform anybody else about anything, including wrongly. The only places where news won’t skew fake will be localities in the natural world. That’s where the digital and the physical connect best. Also expect the internet to break into pieces, with the U.S., Europe and China becoming increasingly isolated by different value systems and governance approaches toward networks and what runs on them.”

Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, said, “The big tech companies, left to their own devices (so to speak), have already had a net negative effect on societies worldwide. At the moment, the three big threats these companies pose – aggressive surveillance, arbitrary suppression of content (the censorship problem), and the subtle manipulation of thoughts, behaviors, votes, purchases, attitudes and beliefs – are unchecked worldwide, and even former associates of Google and Facebook have warned about how such companies undermine democracy and ‘hijack the mind.’ The reason I’m optimistic about technology long-term is because I have successfully built and deployed two systems that passively monitor what big tech companies are showing people online, and I expect to build a much larger system in 2020 and ultimately to assist others in building a worldwide ecology of such systems. I’m also developing smart algorithms that will ultimately be able to identify online manipulations – biased search results, biased search suggestions, biased newsfeeds, platform-generated targeted messages, platform-engineered virality, shadow-banning, email suppression, etc. – in real time. Tech evolves too quickly to be managed by laws and regulations, but monitoring systems are tech, and they can and will be used to curtail the destructive and dangerous powers of companies like Google and Facebook on an ongoing basis. My seminar paper on monitoring systems, ‘Taming Big Tech,’ can be viewed here: https://is.gd/K4caTW.”

danah boyd, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, founder of Data & Society, wrote, “Technology will be used by those who are thoughtful about social innovation, but it won’t actually serve as the driving factor. When we talk about the opportunities for social innovation, we have to culturally contextualize ourselves. I’m going to start with the U.S.; technology in the U.S. is caught up in American late-stage (or financialized) capitalism where profitability isn’t the goal; perpetual return on investment is. Given this, the tools that we’re seeing developed by corporations reinforce capitalist agendas. Innovation will require pushing past this capitalist infrastructure to achieve the social benefits and civic innovation that will work in the United States. China is a whole other ball of wax. If you want to go there, follow up with me. But pay attention to Taobao centers. We haven’t hit peak awful yet. I have every confidence that social and civic innovation can be beneficial in the long run (with a caveat that I think that climate change dynamics might ruin all of that), but no matter what, I don’t think we’re going to see significant positive change by 2030. I think things are going to get much worse before they start to get better. I should also note that I don’t think that many players have taken responsibility for what’s unfolding. Yes, tech companies are starting to see that things might be a problem, but that’s only on the surface. News media does not at all acknowledge its role in amplifying discord (or its financialized dynamics). The major financiers of this economy don’t take any responsibility for what’s unfolding. Etc.”

Barry Chudakov, principal at Sertain Research, said, “We are in the midst of a remarkable social and civic experiment: democracy by device. The total installed base of Internet of Things-connected devices is projected to amount to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025. Our devices are ubiquitous vectors of data. Our social and civic innovation has not kept pace. ‘Techlash’ is a groan of realization: As data assumes an ever-greater role in our day-to-day lives, imperatives emerge. Foremost among these is factfulness. Data summations will become like the atomic clock; we set our communal watches by them. Success in social and civic innovation will become data-driven and dependent. Tools presenting radical transparency will enable democracies to come through the meme wars and infowars that widespread device usage engenders. New groups and systems will emerge to demand (in Ray Dalio’s words) radical truthfulness, which will depend on radical transparency. We must all see how information is presented to us, who is presenting it and have certainty that it is true or false. With this transparency and a commitment to truth and fact over innuendo, accusation and smear, democracy will survive. Technology’s greatest contribution to social and civic innovation in the next decade will be to provide accurate, user-friendly context and honest assessment of issues, problems and potential solutions – while at the same time maintaining ethical artificial intelligence and data protocols. We are facing greater accelerations of climate change, social mobility, pollution, immigration and resource issues. Our problems have gone from complicated to wicked. We need clear answers and discussions that are cogent, relevant and true to facts. Technology must guard against becoming a platform to enable targeted chaos, that is, using technology as a means to obfuscate and manipulate. We are all now living in Sim City: The digital world is showing us a sim, or digital mirror, of each aspect of reality. The most successful social and civic innovation I expect to see by 2030 is a massive restructuring of our educational systems based on new and emerging mirror digital worlds. We will then need to expand our information presentations to include verifiable factfulness that ensures any digital presentation faithfully and accurately matches the physical realities. … Just as medicine went from bloodletting and leeches and lobotomies to open-heart surgery and artificial limbs, technology will begin to modernize information flows around core issues: urgent need, future implications, accurate assessment. Technology can play a crucial role to move humanity from blame fantasies to focused attention and working solutions.”

We are in the midst of a remarkable social and civic experiment: democracy by device.
Barry Chudakov

Jennifer Jarratt, co-principal of Leading Futurists LLC, wrote, “The development of new social technologies will provoke social change, some beneficial, some not. By 2030 we will have data we’ve never had before to enable us to influence people in new ways. I don’t agree with the assumptions being made in the section where we are asked to rank items. Society, and people, aren’t likely to become more idealistic or support ‘good outcomes,’ although they’ll go along with change if it seems to benefit their own lives. And with new technologies come new crimes and criminals – opportunities for all! I think we can become much more efficient at managing the everyday business of governing a complex society and at least in theory, we could have an uprising of willingness to rebuild society in a new model that works with the digital age. We might have to have a revolution first to get us there.”

Stowe Boyd, consulting futurist expert in technological evolution and the future of work, responded, “Technological change is an accelerant and acts on the social ills like pouring gasoline on a fire. In an uncontrolled hyper-capitalist society, the explosion in technologies over the past 30 years has only widened inequality, concentrated wealth and led to greater social division. And it is speeding up with the rise of artificial intelligence, which like globalization has destabilized Western industrial economies while admittedly pulling hundreds of millions elsewhere out of poverty. And the boiling exhaust of this set of forces is pushing the planet into a climate catastrophe. The world is as unready for hundreds of millions of climate refugees as it was for the plague. However, some variant of social media will likely form the context for the rise of a global movement to stop the madness – which I call the Human Spring – which will be more like Occupy or the Yellow Vests than traditional politics. I anticipate a grassroots movement – characterized by general strikes, political action, protest and widespread disruption of the economy – that will confront the economic and political system of the West. Lead by the young, ultimately this will lead to large-scale political reforms, such as universal health care, direct democracy, a new set of rights for individuals and a large set of checks on the power of corporations and political parties. For example, eliminating corporate contributions to political campaigns, countering monopolies and effectively accounting for economic externalities, like carbon.”

Beth Noveck, director of NYU’s Governance Lab and its MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance, said, “While we worry with very good reason about the impact of new technology on the future of work, especially the dislocation of workers and decrease in wages as a result of automation, there are also hopeful advances in the use of new technology to improve working conditions, rendering work safer and more humane. In some cases, new technologies like robotics are eliminating repetitive, dreary assembly line tasks. In some cases, automation is helping to perform dangerous work that endangers worker health. In some cases, artificial intelligence technologies are making it possible to match workers to new education and employment opportunities that are best suited to them and making it easier for them to find work. In some cases, machine learning tools are able to monitor workplace conditions to improve worker safety. However, these positive benefits will scarcely be realized without the right policies to encourage invest in and use of such tools instead of simply the use of new technology to reduce labor costs. The future is by no means certain, but the potential is there. … We will also see proliferating experiments with new kinds of tools to improve workplace conditions and worker safety. Where I am less optimistic is about the power of civil and social tech per se to upend the power of big tech companies or subvert the role of capital in our political and economic institutions. I think we will need far-reaching legislative and policy action to address inequality, the causes of which will not be solved by technology.”

Brad Templeton, internet pioneer, futurist and activist, a former president of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote, “Imagining that there would be no innovation would be a remarkably stark view; the question remains about whether it will be enough. The greatest barrier is that legal and democratic institutions are deliberately resistant to change, so much so that improvements may only come outside them. Since there is now high awareness of these issues, I expect substantial effort on them. Effort will be more successful in private areas where innovation is more popular. Normally would be optimistic about success. Counter to that optimism is we now have parties actively fighting against success in some of these areas, so it’s a question of who will win, not just is winning possible.”

Gina Glantz, political strategist and founder of GenderAvenger, said, “Watching the exponential growth of small-dollar fundraising on both sides of the aisle could well be an encouraging model for journalism, especially local journalism. The Guardian and Wikipedia have shown it is possible to create public enthusiasm and support. In a world where there is universal health care, the ability to develop technology to improve individual health through the use of a variety of tools is certainly a possibility.”