From MIT’s Technology Review
Tech companies are trying to hasten the spread of the digital revolution, but a new study suggests it could do more harm than good.
As the New York Times writes, this contradicts some of the assumptions behind Silicon Valley efforts to spread Internet access to poorer nations, such as Google’s Internet-by-balloon effort, Project Loon, and Facebook’s subsidized Internet service,Internet.org. In India, Facebook’s effort, which provides only limited access to the Internet beyond the social network, has indeed already come in for some severe criticism.
It also seems like an important counter to an overarching philosophy of techno-optimism that sometimes seems to pervade the tech industry. Richer countries need to bear this in mind as well. The spread of more advanced digital technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics could start giving some companies huge advantages, while eradicating or fundamentally changing many jobs.
A brave new digital world is rapidly emerging as Internet access, smartphones, and other technologies spread quickly through less wealthy nations. But could this sometimes be doing more harm than good?