Elon University

Credited Responses: Future of Social and Civic Innovation

This page holds full for-credit responses with no analysis to the following 2019-2020 research questions: Will significant social and civic innovation occur between 2020 and 2030? Will humans’ use of technology lead to or prevent significant social and civic innovation? (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.) If you see no relief, why? If you see success in social and civic innovation as likely, how might it come to pass and what kinds of new groups, systems and tools will be created?

Results released June 2020 – What’s in store in regard to digital social and civic innovation over the next decade? To illuminate current attitudes about the likely future evolution of humans plus internet-facilitated technologies in the next few decades, Pew Research and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a large-scale canvassing of technology experts, scholars, corporate and public practitioners and other leaders, asking them to respond.

A total of 666 experts responded to the first question, which simply asked – yes or no – if significant social and civic innovation is likely to occur between now and 2030.

About 84% said yes, significant social and civic innovation will occur between now and 2030.

About 16% said no, significant social and civic innovation will not occur between now and 2030.

A total of 646 experts responded to the second quantitative question, which asked how humans’ technology use will influence social and civic innovation in regard to mitigating the societal and civic negatives arising in the digital age. They were asked to choose one of these options: 1) Technology use will contribute to innovation that will significantly mitigate problems of the digital age; 2) Technology use will prevent innovation from significantly overcoming the negatives of the digital age; 3) Technology use will have no effect on social and civic innovation.

20% said technology use will prevent social and civic innovation from significantly overcoming the negatives of the digital age

69% said technology use will contribute to social and civic innovation that significantly mitigates problems of the digital age

11% said technology use will have no effect on social and civic innovation

This page contains the written elaborations of respondents who took credit for their answers to all of the questions. The responses are organized in three sections that are divided according to the respondents selection of one of the three choices listed above.

To read the full report on the Future of Social and Civic Innovation between 2020 and 2030, click here:

To read the anonymous responses to the questions, click here:

Following are full responses by study participants who wrote an elaboration on their choices in answering the questions above who also chose to take credit for their remarks. Some of these are the longer versions of expert responses that are contained in shorter form in the survey report. This page also includes some responses that were not in the report.

Will significant social and civic innovation occur between 2020 and 2030, and can it help solve emerging issues?

The following respondents wrote these qualitative remarks after choosing as their quantitative response that “technology use will prevent social and civic innovation from significantly overcoming the negatives of the digital age.”

Jonathan Grudin, a principal researcher for Microsoft, wrote, “Social and civic activity will continue to change in response to technology use, but will it change its trajectory? Realignments following the Industrial Revolution resulted from the formation of new face-to-face communities, including union chapters, community service groups such as Rotary Club and League of Women Voters, church groups, bridge clubs, bowling leagues and so on. Our species is designed to thrive in modest-sized collocated communities, where everyone plays a valued part. Most primates become vulnerable and anxious when not surrounded by their band or troop. Digital media are eroding a sense of community everywhere we look. 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. A rapidly growing consensus that we must address climate change, income inequality and health will drive innovation. Reducing the power of major tech companies and addressing disruptive effects have an audience in some countries, but can an international system be regulated by individual countries? I don’t see hope for reversing the economic decline of news media or deteriorating mental health of phone addicts. I want to believe that the pendulum will swing back to greater trust in competent institutions and governments. Privacy and safety are a dilemma. We don’t want Facebook to track our every action, yet we want Facebook to identify Russian hackers, which they can only do by tracking activity. When anyone on the planet can be a bad actor cloaked in anonymity, often using ‘ethical algorithms’ for unethical purposes not envisioned by their inventors, and governments can be considered bad actors, detection is hugely expensive and difficult and regulations all but impossible to enforce. The European Union has been the strongest voice on many of these issues and it is at risk of splintering, with technology contributing to its travails.”

Anita Salem, research associate, Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School, said, “‘Put a fork’ in the dream of an open and democratic technocracy – it’s dead. The corporations are in control now and they will stymie any social and civic innovation that truly supports the average citizen. Profit rules all and smaller companies that may begin to innovate in the social arena will be bought up and their products will either be buried or turned toward increasing corporate control. We’ll see human-machine hybrids; genetically engineered humans and animals; displacement of human workers because of increased automation; and greater class, educational and racial divisions. New tools will focus on distracting humans from their meaningless lives and increasing business productivity. Climate change and the younger generations may force a redirect, however. If we wake up to the reality of climate change, we may see a ‘moon shot’ approach to addressing the results of climate change, including innovations in reducing/removing plastics in our waste stream; renewable energy and storage innovations; materials low in environmental impact; re-greening of our cities and forests; medicines for asthma, smoke inhalation, and sun exposure; and water and waste recycling. We will also see new societal controls, for example immigration policies; travel restrictions; power and water rationing; building and community segregation; limits on free speech and other rights used by the disaffected.”

Annemarie Bridy, professor of law specializing in the impact of new technologies on existing legal frameworks, said, “In recent public hearings, policy makers have demonstrated repeatedly that they lack a basic understanding of how today’s most socially consequential technologies work. Without better-informed policy makers, we have little hope of effectively regulating developing technologies that profoundly impact human behavior and social welfare, including those involving automated decision-making and pervasive biometric surveillance.”

Art Brodsky, a self-employed consultant, “I would like to think technology could help the situation, but we’ve seen no sign of that so far. Big companies have too much to gain and too little to lose as a result of current abuses. They have no incentives to do anything. The government also is powerless. We have seen no evidence that tech companies have the best interests of the public at heart. Through lax enforcement of antitrust laws and little privacy protection, they focus on their bottom line only. As with other businesses, there is no sense of social responsibility and no institution bold enough to impose one.”

Bach Avezdjanov, a program officer with Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression project, wrote, “Technological development, being driven by Silicon Valley theory of uncontrolled growth, sill continues to outpace civic and social innovation. The latter needs to happen in tandem with technological innovation, but instead plays catch up. This will not change in the future, unless political will to heavily regulate digital tools is introduced – an unlikely occurrence.”

Bill D. Herman, researcher working at the intersection of human rights and technology said, “Private industry has every incentive to create more addictive tech, and little incentive to improve society. Innovation around that won’t happen in a direction that helps, at least not in total.”

Bruce Bimber, professor of political science at the University of California-Santa Barbara, said, “The scale of social innovation needed to bring societies successfully into the future is enormous. At least two problems arise. The first is that we can’t get there incrementally, just by accumulating bits and pieces of adaptation and innovation; yet the sort of big change needed would disrupt too many powerful interests invested in the slowly changing status quo, from which so much money can be made. The second is that political institutions in many places have been too much hollowed out, polarized and captured to provide leadership for bold change.”

Bulbul Gupta, founding adviser, Socos Labs, a think tank designing artificial intelligence to maximize human potential, responded, “Until government policies, regulators, can keep up with the speed of technology and AI, there is an inherent imbalance of power between technology’s potential to contribute to social and civic innovation and its execution in being used this way. If technology and AI can make decisions about people in milliseconds that can prevent their full social or civic engagement, the incentive structures to be used toward mitigating the problems of the digital age cannot then be solved by technology.”

Christian Huitema, president, Private Octopus, longtime internet developer and administrator, said, “Yes, I can see resistance organizing, an underground movement to fight for liberty. There is some of that already, with tracking blockers and decentralized alternatives to the big technology companies, but it is hard for these to compete against surveillance-funded competition. But it is very hard to compete against surveillance-funded competitors who can give away their wares and finance themselves from the data stream. Will motivated customers be ready to pay more and get less services to escape surveillance? The example of the organic food movement gives me some hope, but it will take time before the resistance becomes mainstream. Besides, the behavior manipulation techniques of the surveillance companies may well guarantee their dominance over the popular discourse. Surveillance is a business model. Asking surveillance companies to be more respectful of privacy is asking them to make less profit. This is not going to happen without some kind of coercion. That may come from laws and regulations, but companies are pretty efficient lobbyists. Laws and regulations will only happen if a popular movement pushes them. Actually, if such a popular movement develops, it might start pushing back against the pillaging of personal data. That would be a first step in reining in the surveillance capitalists.”

Christian Schoon, external foresight consultant, Future Impacts, based in Germany, wrote, “In future a focus on development of social and civic innovations will get a high relevance because of changing circumstances in developing societies via disruptive trends like globalization in sense of migration, expanding social networks in interrelation with artificial intelligence development, growing gap between poor and rich, discontinuous political power patterns in established democracies or the volatile economy systems that are moving a lot due to separating tax regulations of nations. Consider the interaction between social and technology innovations. Both go ahead with each other. But in my opinion we need a higher focus on local and global social innovation management systems. In general, social and civic innovations as you understand this term are able to improve all the items you asked for. And I prefer all those improvements. The question is not only the quality of the innovation, but if the innovation will be supported by or fits in the current political and economic systems. We have to ask for its maturity level for mainstream.”

David Golumbia, an associate professor of digital studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, wrote, “This is an offensive question. The idea of ‘techlash’ presumes something that is false – that there is an unreasonable effort by democracies to constrain the awful powers that technology has unleashed. It is also offensive in providing a multiple-choice option for a set of complex phenomena that can’t possibly be captured this way. Who even knows what ‘social innovation’ is? Not only is that a subjective issue, but unless one defines it very narrowly, of course there will be all kinds of progress and regress in every sphere of culture and society in the next 10 years. I don’t even know what can be gained by surveying experts on such a generic, unanswerable and indefinable question. Yet by phrasing it in terms of ‘techlash’ it is clear that the survey designers intend to be able to say that they canvased experts and they expect technology to help, not hurt, social innovation in the future – which the tech industry can then use as more propaganda to block democracies from regulating technology. This is not helpful to an open discussion. ‘Social and civic innovation’ is an offensive concept. If you believe there is such a thing, you are already well on the road to accepting the technology-centric view of the word that has gotten us here. I am not big on predicting the future but try to contribute to these surveys because they play an important role in setting policy. But they are incredibly tilted toward the results the technology industry wants to have happen. ‘Society will naturally figure out ways to deal with the destructive power technology companies keep unleashing’ – ergo, democracies should keep their hands off. We don’t need “innovation” to deal with these problems. We need to apply the principles on which our pursuit of democracy and civil rights have been built.”

David J. Wierz, senior principal, The OCI Group, commented, “Technology should provide a common platform facilitating the development and evolution of organizations, legislation and regulation to mitigate disruption as well as displacement. What appears is more an increasing situation of entrenchment, or using institutional means to insulate technology platforms and providers from normative engagement that fosters alleviation of the concerns often created by the platforms and providers. Current trend appears as innovations to assuage discontent and offset potential legal or political actions disrupting the position of current platforms and providers. Change at the margin to maintain the margin is not change. I do see the potential for human intervention leveraging elements of technology to improve social, mental and physical health. That is integrating information from technology into an overall architecture of care. That architecture inherently maintains the role of person and people as central in caring and social interaction.”

David P. Reed, pioneering architect of the internet, an expert in networking, spectrum and internet policy, wrote, “As noted in my previous written response, social and civic innovation will be countered very effectively by technological surveillance and behavior modification technologies being developed to maximize corporate profitability. This highly effective technology inhabits the very tools of future social and civic innovation, enabling money to be directed efficiently to control each innovation in the direction that serves interests other than those of the citizens themselves. Social and civic innovation will occur only within a technology framework of increasing control by corporate and economically powerful interests. While those innovations may be enjoyed by the participants, the enjoyment will be colonized by corporate interests that do not focus on enhancing individuals’ diverse personal interests in a positive way.”

Davide Noelle, professor and researcher into computational cognitive neuroscience, University of California-Merced, wrote, “My reading of history suggests that technological innovations will both contribute to the welfare of society and contribute to the aggregation of power without concern for society. There are many ‘arms races’ already being fought. Those currently with extensive financial resources and public policy skewed for their benefit have a large advantage in this competition. Still, there will be complex dynamic interactions between the uses of technology for various purposes, with the specifics being impossible to predict. Social and civic innovation will certainly occur, and it will certainly be persistently attacked.”

Deana A. Rohlinger, professor of sociology whose expertise is political participation and politics, Florida State University, said, “It is possible that technology could contribute to social and civic innovation, but I am not terribly optimistic because of the tendency to monetize attention and the ability of stakeholders to cloak their identities in virtual spaces. First, social and civic change is less about involving people in causes and connecting them to one another in meaningful ways, and more about getting attention (and funds) for initiatives and causes. This shift means that community roots are not very deep, and, ultimately, we need people and technology working together to effect change. Second, not all social and civic efforts are designed to help people. Astroturf groups such as Working Families for Walmart intentionally work against innovation and corporate change. In recent years, Astroturf groups have increasingly attached themselves to legitimate organizations in an effort to maintain control over virtual spaces (e.g., telecom companies giving money to civic groups and asking them to oppose net neutrality in return). The overriding emphasis on attention, money and control makes social and civic innovation difficult. It is easier to be optimistic about innovation in news media in ways that improve democracy than lessening worker exploitation in the digital age. This is largely because the government has a clearer voice relative to economic-democratic institutions than purely economic ones, and politicians who want to get reelected generally stay in their proverbial lanes. Americans, for instance, are far more likely to accept government regulation of tech companies to improve the quality and flow of information (as well as the politicians who champion this as a cause). This is far less true of corporations, where the government increasingly has been hands off.”

Douglas Rushkoff, well-known media theorist, author and professor of media at City University of New York, said, “Interesting that you didn’t have an answer that was more like, ‘technology will hamper but not prevent our ability to enact social and civic innovation.’ Tech will make it harder, but it won’t prevent us from doing so. As inequality increases, eventually people will need to turn to one another for mutual aid. Communities will have to form for basic survival. The wealthy may move into augmented realities in order to shield themselves from the realities of the 99%, but most others will begin to find rapport and then solidarity by looking up from tech at one another instead. I think the primary means of social and civic innovation will occur as people go offline and reconnect with their local communities. So I don’t see so much positive change occurring from the top down, through policies and regulation – even though it would be nice to try. I do think government and corporations can be pressured to respond to widespread, bottom-up social activism and widespread changes in citizen and consumer behavior.”

Ellery Biddle, an advocacy director for Global Voices whose specialty is protection of online speech and fundamental digital rights, said, “If I could have selected both of the first two options, I would have. But my sense at the moment is that there are more solutions to be found in dialogue and learning from other sectors, than there are in trying to ‘code our way out’ of the problem. I believe that Facebook, Google and Amazon each have a unique monopoly on the types of information they organize and offer to users. This means they are also the primary sources of many of our biggest problems. Unfortunately, all three of these companies have also occupied a significant amount of space (and injected a lot of money) in academic, policy and civil society conversations that are intended to solve these problems. What we are left with is a situation of capture, in which the companies are creating problems with one hand and then presenting solutions for them with another. Take Facebook. This company has built a revenue model that around the idea that clicks are good/profitable (as they generate ad revenue) and that material that receives lots of clicks should be given more visibility. It has also found unprecedented ways to profit from people’s data. This is what lies at the core of the fake news/disinformation problem. Fake news was always there, it just wasn’t so pervasive or present on our screens until we had a company that built a revenue model on clicks/shock value. In responding to the issue, Facebook has put on a great performance of engaging with fact-checkers and talking about disinformation dynamics. But the company has not changed its basic revenue model, which is the root of the problem. Facebook is never going to change this on its own – it makes far too much money for this to be a viable option. So. the solution must lie in either some kind of regulation. Data protection rules could actually have some impact here, as they would force the company to shift its practices away from endless data collection and tracking, which are deeply intertwined with the ‘engagement’ revenue model. We need to move away from this and seek solutions outside of these big tech companies. There may be other kinds of technology that could really change the game here, and bring us back to a more distributed, decentralized internet, but this has yet to take off. In the U.S. context, it is difficult to see how algorithmic bias or personal privacy will improve in the future without serious regulations on data protection being passed and implemented. This could happen, but I don’t know if it will. I want to voice a general objection to the survey’s reference to ‘ethical’ algorithms. There is no industry standard definition of what this means, and nearly all of the biggest companies that produce biased algorithms now have made low-substance, high-profile ‘AI and ethics’ commitments. Ethics just doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the actual technology we’re talking about, so it’s a convenient way to sound well-intended without actually doing or changing anything. I recently edited a paper on this topic, published by Article 19. It is here: https://www.article19.org/resources/governance-with-teeth-how-human-rights-can-strengthen-fat-and-ethics-initiatives-on-artificial-intelligence/”

Erhardt Graeff, a researcher who studies the design and use of technology for civic and political engagement, Olin College of Engineering, said, “Emphasizing technology ‘use’ as a positive force for social and civic innovation implies that problems of democratic culture are problems of use rather than problems of design. By problems of design, I mean the processes by which we create our world and tools are flawed, not simply the resulting look and feel of these things. More people must feel invited to be a part of the design process. We are now much more aware of how past systems, we believed to be democratic, were neither inclusive processes nor representative of various communities in terms of their leaders and designers. Efforts to rebalance the scales of power in society and technology have inspired backlashes by those who previously enjoyed unjust power and privilege. This is a fight for the definition of what is democratic: who gets to enjoy the feeling that they are being represented and treated well. If democracy demands that all citizens – broadly construed – be instrumental in its creation and survival, then we must expand the definition of who designs our society and the infrastructures, like technology, that bind us together. Diversifying the ranks of our political leaders and technology designers and imagining more democratic processes of design are core components to realizing the social and civic innovation we need. I am concerned that the use of the technology of today to create the world of tomorrow may be a flawed premise. Together, we must build the technology we want to use as we build the world we want to live in.”

Estee Beck, author of “A Theory of Persuasive Computer Algorithms for Rhetorical Code Studies,” commented, “The Federal Trade Commission issued several recommendation reports from 1998 to 2012 on how regulation of private industry’s growth with technology with regard to surveillance and privacy. Despite attempts of private industry to self-regulate, failures abound. The FTC will continue to target specific cases to apply remedy as they arise. Private industry will continue to push the bounds of ethical action.”

Faisal A. Nasr, an advocate, research scientist, futurist and professor, wrote, “There is no doubt there will be some relief, but the net effect will not be significant. The confluence of technological change and social and civic innovation has to be reinforcing in nature and thrust for it to have a meaningful and lasting impact. Meaningful reform has to occur in many critical areas to support such envisioned and desired outcomes and results. To begin with, the rule of law has to be seen within the context of inclusivity, tolerance, diversity to ascertain that the legal process serves all societal groups equally and efficiently. Otherwise social and civic innovation will have a dampened impact as it had thus far. Schools and universities play an important role in this process, not to mention the role of the public sector and effective governance. With what is being currently witnessed, the public sector is increasingly emulating the private sector mindset, much to the detriment of accountability, transparency and effective leadership. Modulating the power of large technology companies is inherent in the legislative and regulatory reform that could take place, possibly prodded on by emerging social and civic innovation. Ethical advances in uses of algorithms can stand a chance through a reformed legal structure and global governance system to deter unethical practices. Improving the economic stability of the news media is a complex issue that involves the functioning and balance among three branches of government and degree of power of the private sector, all critical issues that could enhance the trust in democratic institutions, lead to the creation of social media platforms and strengthen self-expression. However, mitigating mental and emotional health problems tied to digital life is a monumental educational process, and social and civic innovation can only have a very small impact.”

Garth Graham, a longtime leader of Telecommunities Canada, said, “Innovation in the creation and sustainability of social institutions acts predominantly at the local level. In the Internet of Things, for those capacities to emerge in ‘Smart Cities,’ communities need the capacity to own and analyse the data created that models what they are experiencing. Local data needs to be seen as a common pool resource. Where that occurs, communities will have the capacity to learn, or innovate, their way forward. So far, Smart City systems are being set up to appropriate and commercialize individual and community data. So far, communities are not waking up to the realization that a capacity they need is being stolen from them before they have it. Privacy no longer exists, and yet the concept of privacy still dominates social policy debates. The real issue is autonomy of the individual. I should own my digital identity, the online expression of my self, not the corporations and governments that collect my interactions in order to channel my behaviour. Approaches to questions of ownership of digital identity cannot shift until the realization occurs that autonomy is the central question, not privacy. Nothing currently visible suggests that shift will take place.”

Gary Arlen, president, Arlen Communications, said, “BOTH options are likely. Tech will be used BOTH to encourage and to attack civic/social innovation. Cryptocurrency is one example, as we move beyond the cash/credit system. Despite its supposed protections, crypto will be hacked in some way, and some people will suffer, if only from inability to use/understand the tech. Yet, its ultimate value – as well as the entire blockchain infrastructure – will prove very valuable for all kinds of secure transactions. I expect the march of tech will NOT be positive for many individuals.”

Gina Neff, senior research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, studying innovation and digital transformation, wrote, “Without broader participation in the conversations today that lead to the tools of tomorrow, civil society will be left behind. Too many people are being left behind in the decisions about today’s technologies and data ecosystems. The cards are stacked against society. New technologies will fundamentally change how we work and how we relate to one another. Without significant investment now in core infrastructures for society, our collective future is bleak. Powerful new tools like artificial intelligence can help make our economy more efficient and our jobs more interesting and meaningful. But for that to happen, we need more people involved in key decisions about how these tools will be use and who will reap the benefits from them.”

Isaac Mao, director, Sharism Lab, said, “Technologies can help facilitate some kinds of social and civic innovations at first sight, but eventually, those market leaders of technical products would become the barriers of further innovations because of their profit-driven nature. It’s very vulnerable to social and civic applications running on those platforms since it can be an on/off fate someday, like China’s WeChat platform. Those technologies running in commercial interest will also drive out other smaller players and technologies, which are harmful. We need more open technologies and some open platforms running by some trustable organizations. The real social and civic innovations should be disruptive by departing from today’s commercial and capitalism-driven architecture. E.g. people should understand how a system works and how to participate, how to share and how to get incentives without worrying about centralized secret chambers or tyrannies. Many social and civic applications today relying on big tech won’t be sustainable. However, the tendency of chasing and sharing junk information would not be easily stopped by any means, unless we reconstruct a lot of social norms and rules, including the changes in the education system.”

James Mickens, associate professor of computer science, Harvard University, formerly with Microsoft, said, “Technology will obviously result in ‘civic innovation.’ The real question is whether the ‘innovation’ will result in better societal outcomes. For example, the gig economy is enabled by technology; technology finds buyers for workers and their services. However, given the choice between an economy with many gig workers and an economy with an equivalent number of traditional middle-class jobs, I think that most people would prefer the latter.”

James S. O’Rourke IV, a University of Notre Dame professor whose research specialty is reputation management, said, “In thinking about whether technological innovations will improve or restrain society and contribute to the common good, the answer clearly is ‘yes’ to both questions. Western liberal civilizations have taken a laissez-faire approach to technology. ‘The market will sort this out,’ we’re told. In the interim, reputations are ruined, lives are pulled apart, wealth is unfairly or illegally transferred. Social and psychological trauma are the result. If technology created the dilemma we now face, technology will – without question – offer ways for us to mitigate harm and improve the lives of ordinary citizens. The problem, however, is one of incentives. Most technology firms and their entrepreneurial owners are driven far more by the accumulation of wealth than the improvement of society. ‘I’m all for improving life in this country,’ they say, ‘but only if there is clearly a market for that.’ An associated problem is that government at state and national levels is insufficiently clever to deal with such issues. The smartest, most innovative, most intellectually nimble among us don’t go to work for the government (especially in regulatory roles). The best and brightest do not run for public office. And the law always trails the effects of technology. Officials step in on behalf of the public interest long after the harm is done and the money is gone. In thinking about whether social and civic innovation will successfully result in changes that improve people’s physical condition and mental well-being, or result in improved economic circumstances for a majority, we have to consider what we know about the diffusion of innovation. William Gibson, in the late 20th Century, wrote, ‘The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed.’ The problem with innovation and its power to change society and the lives of most citizens is that the best of it diffuses slowly and in response to economic, not social, incentives. A further complication is that most people have been shown to react to fear far more quickly and completely than they will ever respond to their hopes and dreams. Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ Those in control of the development and deployment of technology will see to it that mastery of its benefits will go to people who are much like themselves and who are in agreement with their own world view. True democracy allows people to exercise their free will through informed choice. At the moment, control of such choice is in the hands of a very few. The vast majority must simply wait to be told of their options, their future, their fate.”

James Sigaru Wahu, assistant professor, media, culture and communication, New York University and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, wrote, “Yes, this is because most people still place technology use at the center of the conversation. This is evidenced in the framing of the question. The issue shouldn’t be whether tech use will hamper social and civic innovation but rather how social and civic innovation will curtail over-reliance on technology while democratizing and unbiasing technologies and their use.”

Jeff Johnson, professor of computer science, University of San Francisco, who previously worked at Xerox, HP Labs and Sun Microsystems, said, “Although the question considers ‘social and civic innovation’ as a positive force, it can also be negative. Gaming the system for corporate or personal benefit is a negative form of social and civic innovation. Internet worms, viruses, hackers and bots that gather people’s information, target ads and messages, or wreak havoc are another form of social and civic innovation. Not all innovations are positive. In the 1990s, Richard Sclove hosted a series of citizens panels on democracy in the (still young) digital age (see the book ‘Governance.com: Democracy in the Digital Age’). His prognosis was positive, but at that time the main ‘social’ media consisted of email lists, electronic bulletin boards and usenet newsgroups. The rise of Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and the like has unfortunately turned the tide toward the negative.”

John Skrentny, professor of sociology, University of California-San Diego, said, “Beliefs in (short-term) shareholder value as the reason for corporate existence and the interpretation of antitrust law that views monopolies as bad only if they hurt consumers, coupled with the Supreme Court’s distortion of democracy to allow unlimited flows of cash and unlimited gerrymandering, all align as deep forces making democracy ever more difficult to achieve and sustain in the U.S., no matter the innovation capabilities of the people.”

John Sniadowski, a systems architect based in the United Kingdom, wrote, “Many sovereign states are busily weaponising digital platforms to disseminate misinformation, aka propaganda. In decades prior to the internet, states would regulate the broadcast media. Now they take action to assert control over digital lives by using technology to increasingly track individuals on a scale never before possible. Also by enacting laws enforcing the use of ‘digital surveillance’ via gagging rules and other enforcement laws, it becomes increasingly difficult for individuals to lawfully protest. Also technological advances allow the building of the so-called ‘great firewall of China’ where all but the most sophisticated digital citizen is denied information channels that the state considers prohibited and illegal content. The current social structures of most societies are ill-equipped to deal with the tsunami of technological advancements. The average citizen has little idea of what lays behind most digital platforms. The rate of change of those platforms challenges even the most technologically adept. ‘Ordinary’ citizens are compelled to participate at a pace well beyond their own personal requirements or interests because of either social pressures or governmental requirements for ever more efficient government control of state functions (taxes, health care, elder care, planning, etc.) Individual rights become lost in the maelstrom of change because laws of state simply cannot be updated frequently and fast enough to level the playing field or protect the individual. The more complex the laws, the more holes to circumvent the rights are created. Global citizens or digital rights charters are needed, but the will to enact anything that usurps local sovereign state law is almost impossible to enact globally.”

Jonathan Morgan, senior design researcher, Wikimedia Foundation, said, “I’m mostly concerned with the role of digital platform owners and technology providers as stiflers of innovation. People are pretty locked into the tools they use to live, work and socialize. Increasingly, these activities are mediated by a small number of economically and politically powerful companies that actively squash competition, undermine and jettison open standards and protocols, and resist regulation. These are anti-competitive practices that stifle innovation; they are anti-social practices that inhibit the development of new social norms. Our continued use of/dependence on the technologies they provide props up these organizations, allowing them to continue to engage in activities that undermine the fabric of our society in a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. There’s reason to hope that the current ‘techlash’ is part of a broader concern about the harm caused by commercial technological platforms and the economy that has grown up around those platforms. I think we’re most likely to see regulation around data privacy, and perhaps some regulation around safety (in terms of increased obligations on the part of platforms to report on or intercede in incidents where people are likely to be harmed by others through the platform). I’m pretty pessimistic that we can actually change the economic model of our modern technology ecosystem. That model rests on collecting data about people, finding new ways to profit from that data and in general manipulating them unconsciously to make them act in ways that economically benefit technology companies. Those companies lose power every time someone doesn’t use their services – whether because they are opting to use a different service or because they are opting out of a whole platform sector (e.g. quitting social media). Those companies will do everything they can to avoid losing power. Innovation requires re-distribution of power (in the form of opportunity and choice) to individual citizens, groups of citizens, governments and other/newer market actors.”

Jonathan Taplin, author of “Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy,” said, “Google and Facebook are two of the largest corporations in the world (measured by market capitalization). They will use their financial and lobbying power to fend off significant regulation. I would like to believe that real progress could be made on these issues, but I’m afraid that the financial power of the internet monopolies is too strong. I am highly doubtful that real progress will be made unless there is a catastrophe, resulting in an autocratic state that leads to true citizen revolt.”

Kenneth A. Grady, adjunct professor and affiliate of the Center for Legal Innovation, Michigan State University, commented, “The Industrial Age was fundamentally different from the Information Age in at least one key respect that affects how social and civic innovation will proceed: data. Today, those who have abundant data are positioned to influence social and civic innovation in ways that were not possible during the Industrial Age. Through tools such as targeted social media, gerrymandering, lobbying and PACs, those who hold the data can do far more to control the outcome of change efforts than their peers could 100 years ago. In some ways, this comes down to trust – citizens do not know who to trust for information. Those who have superior tools to influence that trust can do more to affect social and civic innovation. Although 2030 may seem like it is rapidly approaching, in terms of social and civic innovation it is far in the future. Barring some major trigger event, society will slowly adjust to technological changes rather than try to proactively control them. The convenience those changes bring will outweigh the moral outrage that could spark rapid change. Health care is one area where technology may have more of a positive impact from the perspective of what it can do, because health care problems affect everyone. The challenge will be giving everyone access to the improvements.”

Keri Jaehnig, chief marketing officer for a media-marketing agency, wrote, “The development and adoption of artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies will change how we live. This will make the advantaged with more opportunity and will make the poor poorer. Employment displacement will absolutely occur. Some new industry and opportunity will evolve, but it is hard to gauge at this point how much and if it will ever be enough. Health care and treatment could be positively influenced by the change expected. We need government out of the way, and current ‘big tech’ companies regulated to pave the way!”

Larry Masinter, internet pioneer, formerly with Adobe, ATT Labs, Xerox PARC, helped create internet and web standards with IETF and W3C, said, “The options offered had a double negative. Technology and social innovation intended to overcome the negatives of the digital age will likely cause additional negative consequences. Examples include the decentralized web, end-to-end encryption, artificial intelligence and machine learning, social media. The survey questions went from ‘no change’ to ‘significant improvements.’ But it is more likely that innovation will exacerbate problems. Not only unlikely to be mitigated, likely to make worse: wealth concentration, political interference, monopolistic practices.”

Leah Lievrouw, professor of information studies, University of California-Los Angeles, wrote, “Civil society requires solidarities across social groups with divergent experiences and interests (what is sometimes called common ‘will formation’), that permit cross-group identification, mobilization and the growth of enduring alliances around issues that affect the whole, not just the separate, private concerns and circumstances of one or another group alone. The architecture and uses of current technological platforms, in many cases, are at exact cross-purposes to this kind of solidarity and mobilization, because their business models depend on encouraging and ‘harvesting’ data about individual action. Certainly, public awareness and collective interventions (e.g., the women’s march just after Trump’s inauguration) can be organized and promoted through social media platforms, but they don’t seem as useful for forming and sustaining long-term collective commitments or new institutional formations. I am not convinced that ‘social and civic innovation,’ at least on the current path being seen in developed societies, will be able to ‘solve’ the complex problems that continue to emerge at the intersection of society, economics and digital technology. I am perhaps most optimistic about efforts by technology professionals, engineers and so on that oppose unethical uses of techniques like predictive analytics, machine learning and so on because they have considerable power in moderating the agendas of their (increasingly monopolistic) employers, so long as they are indispensable to those employers. But that’s still a long shot and unlikely to have the same society-wide influence as, for example, the union movement. When it comes to civil society issues, or difficult problems with severe distributional inequities like health care, there seem to be very few new ideas about how to launch and organize the large-scale efforts required.”

Lokman Tsui, School of Journalism and Communication of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, formerly Google’s Head of Free Expression in Asia and the Pacific, said, “I understand social and civic innovation to be innovation driven by civil society, for civil society. I believe that there will be some social and civic innovation in the next decade. But I am also concerned that the odds are not in their favor. I believe that the closed and centralized nature of the new technologies of the next decade will make this very difficult. The odds are in favor of these innovations to be driven by states and by corporations, rather than by civil society. What I see happening is that increasingly states and corporations are forming alliances such that the development of future innovations benefit each other, at the detriment of civil society. The development of the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe is remarkable precisely because I see it as an exception to the norm.”

Luis German Rodriguez, researcher and consultant on knowledge society and sociotechnical impact based at Universidad Central de Venezuela, commented, “The average world citizen is too far away to be aware of what this technological tsunami means and the social and civic impacts it is having in everyday way of living. People seem to be enchanted with the gadgets (gadgets are amazing in many senses but carry on dangers that are beyond the scope of this brief answer). The ethical issues around this technology-driven social and civic innovation process should have a greater attention and must be a priority for all of us. I do not see social and civic innovation successfully available in 2030. Some important advances will be implemented to improve physical health and to increase life expectancy of some socio-economic sectors of the population.”

Marc Brenman, managing partner, IDARE, LLC, said, “This was a poorly written question. There should have been an option for both developments to occur. Technology will influence social and civic innovation in both good and bad ways. We cannot predict what those new technologies will be. Perhaps science fiction writers can. We can extrapolate current developments. One technological development affects another; for example, climate change, global warming and ocean rise create the need for new technologies. But we may not be able to ‘technologize’ our way out of these problems. The tipping point may already have arrived. New technologies may simply enable us to make mistakes faster. The only improvements in the human condition that I see as a result of technology involve health. People will become more bionic. Genetic engineering will increase. Diagnosis will improve. Privacy will continue to erode.”

Marc Rotenberg, executive director, Electronic Privacy Information Center, said, “Technology will certainly aid democracy and social innovation. But on balance it will more likely hinder innovation. The reason is that a small number of platforms dominate communications and they have devised techniques to minimize opposition. Consider how social movements arose in the past. Workers could organize other workers to seek better working conditions. Activists could join together in their communities to seek changes on matters from the funding for a park to the removal of toxic waste disposal site. But Facebook prevents the use of its platform for any organizing against Facebook. By the companies’ own terms and conditions, users are not able to establish groups with names such as ‘Facebook Users for Privacy Protection’ or ‘Stop the Trolls on Facebook.’ Ironically, the company cites intellectual property law to prevent the use of its own identity by others. That is how technology firms diminish civic innovation. Important progress is already underway on data protection (the General Data Protection Regulation) and algorithmic accountability (OECD artificial intelligence principles). And as I write these words, there is news of a record-setting $5 billion fine against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission. But I am much less confident that there will be an effective political response to save journalism or labor. These institutions have been severely weakened and the absence of collective action is not encouraging. Journalism is already dependent on Google for its continued survival, which means that its prospects for solving its key challenge has been lost.”

Mario Morino, chairman, Morino Institute and co-founder, Venture Philanthropy Partners, a pioneer in venture philanthropy, said, “There will be social innovation, emerging solutions to certain problems, but the scope of what needs to be considered is enormous and diverse and technology’s use too pervasive and entrenched.”

Mark Andrejevic, associate professor of communications, University of Iowa, wrote, “It is possible that we will see significant social and civic innovation in other regions than the U.S., but I am not optimistic about our current trajectory, because the tools that we rely on for civic life are part of the problem. We have entrusted so much of our information ecosphere to huge commercial platforms that have evolved to fit neatly with the means and modes of contemporary information consumption in ways that are not conducive to the formation of functional civic dispositions. This is the problem we face – to innovate at the civic level we need communication systems and practices that allow us to deliberate in good faith, to recognize the claims of others we do not know, to form ‘imagined communities’ that bind us to a sense of shared, common or overlapping public interests. There is a Catch-22 involved here – we need to create new tools, but to create new tools we need civically functional modes and means of communication to start with. This is not to say that there is no way out or that history has somehow stopped. It is to suggest that we have reached the point that successful social and civic innovation will only result from a profound crisis or social breakdown. We will be building on the ruins. We have demonstrated that even when we see the coming crisis, we have lost the ability to avert it. This strange paralysis haunts our current moment economically, politically and environmentally. The guiding premise of my responses has been that it will take a crisis to reset our current trajectory. I do not know if this crisis will take place within the next decade, although this seems likely. However, it will take some time to work our way out of it – likely much more than a decade. I think the major civic innovation we will need is the development of institutions and technologies that affirm and reproduce the civic dispositions we need for meaningful democratic self-governance. This will not be a question of tweaking technological and political systems. It will require dramatic restructuring of society in ways that take advantage of the capabilities of the technology without succumbing to the pathologies of contemporary social relations. Hyper-commercialism and consumerism will have to give way to a revitalized conception of public interest and public service systems and dispositions. We will have to reconfigure our political system to avoid corporate capture, and we will need to eradicate the use of fossil fuels. Technology can help in all of these changes, but not in its current configuration.”

Mark Surman, executive director, Mozilla Foundation, and co-founder, Commons Group, wrote, “Right now, the big U.S. tech companies basically write the rules of the road. If governments and citizens can take back some of that power – and build up the talent and vision to create civic innovation – we’ll see the kind of social innovation we need. That said, current trends don’t bode well. The companies hold all the cards. And governments don’t have the expertise they need to regulate in ways that will be effective or work out well.”

Michael Aisenberg, chair, ABA Information Security Committee, wrote, “Misappreciation of limits and genesis of e.g. artificial intelligence/machine learning will produce widely disparate results in deployment of tech innovations. Some will be dramatically beneficial; some may enable abuse of law enforcement, economic systems and other fundamental civic institutions and lead to exacerbation of gaps between tech controllers/users and underserved/under-mis skilled populations (‘digital divide’) in what may be significant (embed limitations on career/economic advancement) or even life threatening (de facto health care or health procedure rationing) manner. Your questions are badly constructed. The problem is not the capacity of innovations to cause cited improvements; it is the likelihood, in U.S. that access to vendors will be available to all. It is an extension of the present phenomenon of uneven and inequitable allocation of health care. All of these present and emerging IT-based innovations offer potential of great benefit, but will not likely be uniformly or universally acacia label. Your 1-10 scale and styling of questions leaves out possibility of answer indicating that ‘Yes, innovations will be developed, but they may not be available to all, and they may be abused and harm some significant portion of population.’”

Mike Gaudreau, a retired entrepreneur and business leader, wrote, “Polarization of politics will continue and positions will harden in the U.S. two-party system. The left will become too utopian and the right will veer toward national socialism that suits those who think immigrants are the cause of their issues. I fear there may be another civil war in the US. .in the next 10 to 20 years, or at least a period of upheaval as seen in the 1960s.”

Mike O’Connor, retired, a former member of the ICANN policy development community, said, “Follow the money and ethics. The forces of good are ethical, thoughtful and resource-poor. The negative forces are scurrilous and have plenty of money to buy/leverage the tech to advance their cause. I pegged every ‘no’ answer. I think there will be lots of social and civic innovation, but it will be similar to the activities of organizations like ICANN. Much ruckus that’s easily ignored/circumvented by global powers that be. I hope to be wrong.”

Neal Gorenflo, co-founder, chief editor and executive director, Shareable, an award-winning nonprofit news outlet that has covered the latest innovations in the sharing economy, said, “If history is any guide, the United States should see a civic and perhaps even a religious revival. However, circumstances are different; the power imbalances may be at or progress to a point of no return soon. The ever-increasing power and pervasiveness of technology, the speed at which it is deployed, the inability of government and public to even understand it never mind control it, the downgrading of our individual and collective behavior and decision making all bring into question if citizens can rally like we have before. I hope we can, aim to be part of that, but I have my doubts too. We may have been asleep at the wheel too long to avert disaster. There will be significant social and civic innovation, but it might not be enough or come in time. What’s alarming to me is how much abuse and degradation of our democracy we’ve already tolerated and the degree to which people are polarized. The general public doesn’t seem inclined or well prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to address this or any crisis.”

Oscar Gandy, professor emeritus of communication, University of Pennsylvania, said, “I still believe that corporate actors will make use of technology to weaken the possibility for improvements in social and civic relationships. I am particularly concerned about the use of technology in the communications realm in order to increase the power of strategic or manipulative communications to shape the engagement of members of the public with key actors within a variety of governance relationships. I marked very few of the ranking of civic and social change answers in a positive direction, that is, one in which the status/outcomes of interest would be perceived as having become improved for the benefit of most, if not all, members of the public. I did grant that there can be some improvements in the ‘health’ of the population, but because I do not expect to see these transformations in health-related nudges being accompanied by improvements in the economic well-being of all population segments, I could not use a higher mark.”

Philip Rhoades, a business futurist and consultant based in Australia, wrote, “If I had been given a choice as to rating the likely change, all of my responses would have been negative. You should have included negative on the scale – ‘getting worse’ options e.g., a scale from -5 to +5.”

Philippe Blanchard, founder, Futurous, an innovation consultancy based in Switzerland, said, “I do think that the major difficulty in the rise of a social and civic innovation comes from the pervasiveness of the general-purpose technologies… and the globalisation. Technology will develop faster in less regulated environments and the critical mass of some use/technologies will push for its generalization worldwide.”

Rebecca Theobald, an assistant research professor at a U.S. university, said, “Technology seems to be driving people apart, which would lead to fewer connections in society. Also, people are very lazy. They are happy to give up standing and turning on the TV and would prefer that a ‘smart speaker’ do it – even if it also records their family arguments. Humans have a hard time forgiving and forgetting. With all the digital media about, past actions will always be present. Our whole make-up as a species will need to change, which likely will take a while.”

Richard Bennett, founder, High Tech Forum, ethernet and Wi-Fi standards co-creator, wrote, “The economic model of social media platforms makes it inevitable that these tools will do more harm than good. As long as spreading outrage and false information generates more profits than dealing in facts, reason, science and evidence, the bad guys will continue to win. Until we devise a model where doing the right thing is more profitable than exploiting the public’s ignorance, the good guys will keep losing. We’re most likely to see progress in the use of social media platforms to spread good information about health and fitness. This is an issue that transcends politics and one in which the public has a vested interest. Differences of opinion on the role of science in improving public health fall largely on educational rather than partisan lines today, where attitudes such as anti-vaccination are equally common among democrats and republicans. One hypothetical change that I would like to see would be the emergence of social media platforms that moderate less for tone and emotion and more for adherence to standards of truthfulness and evidence. Making this approach succeed financially is the major obstacle.”

Rick Lane, future of work strategist and consultant, wrote, “We have already seen the power of tech to create misinformation campaigns when Silicon Valley companies and their supporters manipulate data and search to promote their own policy agenda. If data and search manipulation is not addressed, then the social and civic innovation that we all hope for in this new digital age will be stifled.”

Rob Frieden, a professor of telecommunications and law at Penn State who previously worked with Motorola and the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said, “Sadly, I do not see individual or even collective ‘self-help’ efforts as having sufficient effectiveness vis a vis the tools available in a surveillance society. Governments appear to have a nearly unlimited budget to acquire the latest and greatest technologies for surveillance. How can an off-the-shelf encryption option providing ‘pretty good privacy’ match the power, range and resources available to governments? Individuals have limited time, money and other resources available to devise and embrace social and civic innovations. Sadly, many of the social networking platforms – once thought as empowering – have become vehicles for manipulation and surveillance. I do not see well intentioned, but limited, foundations reacting a critical mass than can push back in any meaningful measure. Your reference to ‘techlash’ strikes me as nothing more than a possible reduction in trust in social and civic institutions, with the possibility that people cannot readily differentiate good and bad. Just now, consider how fact-checking websites do not set the record straight for many ‘true believers.’”

Roger E.A. Farmer, research director, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, London, and professor of economics, University of Warwick, author of “Prosperity for All,” wrote, “There is no ‘yes or no’ answer to this question. Technology is already influencing the political process. A lot depends on how tech-media giants are regulated. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are monopolies in the transmission of culture in the same way AT&T was a monopoly in the telecommunications industry in earlier decades. They should be broken up or regulated and treated as media organizations by the courts. There is no right answer to any of the questions of ranking the possibilities of social and civic change other than: it depends. Like all technologies, social media advances have the power to create great good but also great evil. The manipulation of the internet in China by the Chinese government is an example of the use of technology by an autocratic state to suppress individual freedoms. In the U.S., the technology is controlled not by the government but by a small number of private individuals. Concentration of the ability to shape culture is a powerful tool that can shape the social fabric.”

Scott Burleigh, principal engineer at a major U.S. agency, said, “The negatives of the digital age are rooted in the growing elusiveness of privacy and of trust. Digital technology will continue to provide mechanisms for violating privacy and trust that outstrip mechanisms for protecting them. People who care about these things will come to spend as little time on the grid as possible. I think there are technologies that actually could help, and I would like to believe that they will, that I’m wrong about this. But I don’t think I am. I think it’s very likely that some, perhaps all, of the constructive innovations you have listed for respondents to rank will be forthcoming. However, I think it’s very unlikely that they will substantially mitigate the problems, because corresponding destructive innovations will emerge at least as quickly.”

Stephanie Fierman, partner, Futureproof Strategies, said, “Technology will meaningfully accelerate social and civic innovation – it’s cheap, fast and able to reach huge audiences. But as long as false information is enabled by very large websites, such social and civic innovators will be shadow boxing with people, governments and organizations purposely countering truthful content with lies.”

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.”

Tyaga Nandagopal, program director, Networking Technology and Systems, U.S. National Science Foundation, wrote, “Humans have always used technology to increase the level of contact with like-minded communities in order to expand their social spheres of community and influence. While one could argue for the ‘golden age’ of yore where politicians and people used to debate each other in public fora about important topics of the day, in hindsight, one can posit that the only reason such debates flourished was because people did not have a choice due to lack of physical mobility (there was no guarantee if you left your town to find like-minded people in another town), or they were forced to debate each other (such as political debates or dueling newspaper editorials). Current digital technology tools have made it easier for people to access very large like-minded groups without leaving the comfort of their chairs. Lack of physical mobility is no longer an issue, because the world is at your fingertips through your phone. You need not walk into any debate alone, because you are backed by an army of your fellow countrymen who share the same view and you can walk out of an ‘electronic debate’ any time you do not feel like it. The standard of civil discourse and what constitutes rational discussion is being redefined drastically as well. The pace of technological development has also allowed us to explore the limits of human rationality – unfortunately we still have not figured out how to stretch the rational thinking capacity and the ability to process information within the human mind to overcome the weakness of the digital society structures. Having discovered the limits of our rational thought processes, digital tools (focused on marketing and profits) are in a race to figure out how to overwhelm our rational thinking processes, creating dangerous tools that are being weaponized to harm societal existence. Civic innovation is not likely to succeed despite brave attempts by many to persevere. A thousand flowers (of innovative ideas) may bloom, but if they cannot figure out how to beat the oppressive heat (of weaponized tools designed to overcome rational thought processes), then these flowers will instantly wilt and fade away. Social and civic innovation is likely to lead to substantial gains in worker welfare and overall public health. Apart from these two, it is hard to foresee how these innovations will thrive and succeed on a large scale. The gains in worker welfare and public health are going to be derived not due to any major civic innovations, but rather they are just going to change the nature of work itself, to something we have never seen yet. Think of folks making a living driving their car for a ride-sharing service. One can argue that they are not doing that well in terms of wages, but before they took that job, they may not have been seeking employment in the first place. The gig economy is changing the traditional notion of work, and what it means to have ‘regular working hours.’ This in turn impacts the notion of ‘leisure time,’ and thus affects how it impacts health as well. The biggest challenge facing social and civic innovations is that lack of support from a ‘grand coalition.’ We need a Montreal protocol for social change that all major companies, governments and social organizations commit to and execute. Individual efforts, whether it be Google or Mozilla Foundation or some randomly chosen billionaire-supported philanthropic foundation, is not going to create any societal change all by itself. They should all get talking and identify common goals for the benefit of humanity.”

Vince Carducci, researcher of new uses of communication to mobilize civil society and dean, College of Creative Studies, wrote, “What has variously been termed ‘platform’ or ‘surveillance’ capitalism will not prevent social innovation per se so much as direct it a particularly way. Twentieth-century institutions such as unions, state bureaucracies and social welfare systems will continue to be disrupted by technologies that concentrate power in fewer hands. The subsumption of individual identity under big data will likely continue as technology proliferates under so-called platform/surveillance capitalism. Guy Debord’s critique of spectacle society will expand in a more granular form with technologies of self-monitoring and self-control within social media. A bleak outlook to be sure. But you asked.”

Will significant social and civic innovation occur between 2020 and 2030, and can it help solve emerging issues?

The following respondents wrote these qualitative remarks after choosing as their quantitative response that “technology use will contribute to social and civic innovation that significantly mitigates problems of the digital age.”

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. The problem with the ranking questions is that the answer is yes for some people and communities and no for others. ‘The future is not evenly distributed,’ nor is its realization uniform. It won’t be all dystopia or all utopia. There’s some hope that it will become more difficult to keep people physically captive in the dystopias, but those in the utopias are often trying to and succeeding in keeping them out. The biggest problem – to my mind – is (in artificial intelligence terms) the prevalent training set for infant minds, which is fostering short-term/addictive thinking rather than purpose. We see the impact of that not just in people but in our institutions: grant-chasing nonprofits, vote-chasing politicians, exponential-growth (rather than steady income)-chasing businesses/investors. People chase instant gratification and cures for disease rather than investing in their own health and education. There’s a connection here also between the short timeframe and the constricted sense of community even as new tech connects us to the entire world. Perhaps it overwhelms us.”

Ethan Zuckerman, director, MIT’s Center for Civic Media, and co-founder, Global Voices, said, “Development of social media technologies over the past 20 years has suffered from the false assumption that technology is and can be neutral. The assumption was that platforms like Facebook could be used for good or for ill, and that platform designers should work to keep their tools as open to as many uses as possible. We’re now realizing that no technologies are neutral. Build a technology around the idea of increasing engagement and you’re likely to create incentives for clickbait and disinformation. 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. The series of ranking questions places some heavy weight on social and civic innovation! I think it’s realistic to believe that civic innovation can find ways to hold back some of the most egregious problems with technology – the use of low-quality facial recognition algorithms for law enforcement, for instance – but asking civil and social innovation to substantially change health feels like a concession of a profound lack of confidence. For many years, we’ve lost faith that governments would make major progress on these massive social issues. Some had hoped that corporations would be our new path toward social change. Now the techlash is forcing reconsideration of that proposition. Is civic innovation what we have left to have faith in? That’s a lot of weight on a slender reed.”

David J. Krieger, director of the Institute for Communication & Leadership, based in Switzerland, wrote, “The socio-technical ensemble of the digital age promotes connectivity, the flow of information, communication, participation, transparency and authenticity. These new ‘network norms’ represent in themselves a social and civic innovation challenging the foundations of Western industrial society. History shows that the wider distribution and increased accessibility of information transforms traditional practices and institutions ushering in new forms of business, improved health care, better education and more democratic politics. An economy of scarcity in information is being replaced by an economy of abundance dismantling hierarchies, delegitimating command and control communication, and shifting regulatory measures from centralized government to cooperative forms of governance. The digital age is characterized by innovation and change and not by stability and tradition. Datafication – that is, the modelling of the world in data and the application of descriptive, predictive, preventive and prescriptive analytics to this data – will transform all areas of society. Decisions not only in business, but also in health care, education, research and politics will be made no longer on the basis of intuition, experience, emotion or personal expertise, but on the basis of evidence. Many decisions in all these areas will be automated. 2030 may not see this implemented everywhere, but the tendency will be apparent. Personalized products and services in all areas will eliminate the economy of attention, which is the basis of traditional media thus enabling new forms of social communication free from the distortions of traditional markets.”

Doc Searls, internet pioneer and editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, said, “For most people, the first response to disturbing disruptions is regulatory: ‘Give us new privacy laws!’ ‘Break up Big Tech.’ ‘Turn Silicon Valley back into fruit orchards!’ But that puts the regulatory cart in front of the development horse. We need development before everything. And we need norms after that. Those are the horses and the harnesses. The regulatory cart should follow the lead of both. With the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe we have a helpful lesson in how creating regulations in the absence of tech is a giant fail. What the GDPR does is address wrongdoing by perpetrators who are highly incentivized financially to keep doing all the wrong things they’ve been doing ever since they found they could track people like marked animals for the purpose of harvesting data about personal activities and using that data to aim ‘relevant,’ ‘interest-based’ and ‘interactive’ ads at those people’s eyeballs everywhere they go in the digital world. Those ads don’t work for shit, but they do pay the perps; and it’s too damned easy for the perps to put up insincere and misleading ‘cookie notices’ that obtain equally insincere ‘consent’ and thus to claim compliance. Successfully! At least so far. Meanwhile, all we need as individuals is the digital equivalent of privacy technologies we’ve had for the duration in the natural world: clothing and shelter. Getting those in the virtual world is Job One. Fortunately, some of us are already on the case. Stay tuned. Ten years is a short time, especially in a Digital Age that will last for the rest of human civilization. That means it will still be almost as new in 2030 as it was in 1995. 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.”

David Weinberger, senior researcher, Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said, “I see no reason to think that the current situation will change: tech will both cause problems that require innovative solutions, and tech will be part of those solutions. Machine learning 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 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.)”

Deb Socia, executive director, Next Century Cities, said, “Social and civic innovation are likely. The question I have is whether it will be enabled by or will happen in response to issues that arise from the tech sector. Will we see greater personal data protections? If so, how will it happen? Will it be because the tech giants make the decision to do so, or will it be mandated? My belief is that there will be changes in how children and adults are educated, with a rise in training programs that support the increased availability of trained staff who can work in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, networking and application creation. There will be a move toward more work from home, resulting in the need for more creative ways to collaborate, communicate and socialize. I believe we will see significant changes in the way we manage and receive health care, with telehealth opportunities changing the need for more local specialists and increasing the need for differently trained local medical professionals who can manage the online health care process. I imagine that transportation will be transformed by the opportunity to leverage technology. We will require new innovations that will support the new ways we live, learn, work and play. Though I am generally optimistic about the potential for successful social and civic innovation, I am worried that some issues will not be positively impacted. In particular, I do not trust that technology will improve the opportunity for people to discern truth from fiction in the news they consume. I do not believe that the changes will improve our ability to receive unbiased local news. I do think that we could mitigate these concerns if we had the will and fortitude to do so. However, I have not seen evidence that this will be addressed in a meaningful way.”

Paul Jones, founder and director of ibiblio and a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, wrote, “Identifying problems and challenges is the first step toward solutions to those problems. We will require and acquire a consensus as to management of the data and tools that can bind us and serve us. One thing that has become quickly obvious is that as we continue the irregular and rocky path to becoming truly global, common problems and best practice solutions – while somewhat local –will be part of our discussions and part of our daily lives. Relatives and friends half a world away connect us to a more global sense. Not just in the case of disasters or riots, but in the mundane ways our lives are enriched through recipes, entertainments, sports and the urge to travel. People knowing people and in communication with people creates greater communities. Not perfect communities, but overall more connections and commonalities. Expect more global movements and more local movements connected globally. Hardly anyone is called a ‘bookworm’ anymore. So it will be with connective technologies. Both the panic and the utopianism will become subdued as we normalize and socialize our uses of technologies. But we will seek and require rules, standards and oversights. Individual health monitoring will be commonplace. Less visits for health checkups as that data will be gathered on an ongoing basis allowing for individual health trends to be identified and deviations tracked and treated. Socially in the near term, tech platforms will ask to be regulated just as ATT[AB1]  asked for the Federal Communications Commission to be created. In the near term, this will actually slow innovation and secure the places of the dominant players – as it did with ATT. In the longer run – I hope by 2030 – the innovation cycle will come back into play. My bet is in the biological fields – not limited to health care. Interplanetary exploration will accelerate with private efforts like SpaceX and Blue Origin being more of a future template than national efforts such as NASA. Vint Cerf is right – interplanetary internet even if we are communicating with robots and devices will be standard. Social movements will form complex accommodations to individual tendencies with better behavior becoming normalized despite our present seeming chaos.”

Paul Saffo, chair, futures studies and forecasting, Singularity University, visiting scholar, Stanford MediaX, a Silicon Valley-based forecaster with three decades experience helping corporate and governmental clients understand and respond to the dynamics of change, said, “Technologies can unquestionably limit social/civic innovation. A particularly poignant example is the social security system. Created in the 1930s, it was in danger of collapse in the 1950s from the administrative burden. Had it collapsed the U.S. would have been forced to consider an alternative system. But the advent of electronic data processing saved the day and the system survived. This pattern is one of using the newest technology to pave the cowpaths: to do an old thing in a more efficient way. We inevitably first use technological novelties to imitate old media forms (email anyone?) but the process of adaptation that follows inevitably leads to novel applications. But it takes time. Innovation is a conversation between inventors and the culture they swim in. Once a problem stems from an innovation, society moves to correct it. The correction often takes time, but it is either corrected or the particular innovation fails. None of the issues mentioned in the last several questions worries me particularly. It is the issues that are not being discussed that give me indigestion.”

danah boyd, principal researcher, Microsoft Research, founder of Data & Society, wrote, “My previous answer was actually inaccurate because the real answer wasn’t available as a choice. 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.”

Mike Roberts, Internet Hall of Fame member and pioneer CEO of ICANN, said, “We are in a technology fueled Age of Innovation. Technology got us into this mess and technology will get us out of it. I’m afraid that ‘social and civic innovation’ doesn’t frame the issues for me. What will happen is that normal political and economic demographics will create a demand for and will adopt technology-based tools to deal with their various perceptions of a solution space to these issues. Across the political spectrum, that generates multiple and frequently contrasting/conflicting proposals. Getting to the core issue, will our society in 10 years be more humane, just and free from conflict? Yes, because a majority of our society wants it that way. Technology will assist those who feel that way.”

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. To effect positive change we must further evolve digital presentations to organize pressing issues, concerns and opportunities by condition, progress, result and consequence. Today information has little context. Social and civic innovation with regard to digital life is already awash in data – and this is just the start. These data stores must be ethically managed and grounded in learning, research, training and massive re-education. 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. Regarding problems unlikely to be mitigated: we assume that screens, devices, Siri and Alexa, the rise of robots and AI, blockchain, algorithms or the cyber effect—all will be handled properly by narrowly trained technologists and the rest of us need little or no formal user training. But this is like assuming because children have eyes they will learn to read. There will be no social and civic innovation in digital life until we install immersive learning classrooms in schools and workplaces to affect a Marshall Plan-style retraining and reorganization regimen that includes training in device logic and scenario planning for unintended consequences. No algorithm can (yet) do the job of thinking, editing, providing moral guidance when faced with wicked problem choices. We will have to step up to the quandaries of our world and the technologies that are changing it.”

Jamais Cascio, distinguished fellow, Institute for the Future, and selected by Foreign Policy magazine in its Top 100 Global Thinkers, wrote, “To be clear, building on the previous long response: By 2030 the benefits of these social, civic and technological innovations won’t be fully visible. The primary driver for ultimately succeeding in beneficial innovation is, in my view, generational, not just technological. Millennials and (in other regions) similar cohorts that grew up surrounded by networked communications will be taking on greater political, economic and social authority. These are people for whom effectively all media has been diverse, hyperbolic and created for ongoing engagement (not just one-and-done watching). They are likely to have greater skills at recognizing manipulation and seeing webs of influence (rather than lines). As Samuel Johnson said, ‘When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.’ Imminence of danger can substantially increase the attention given to developing innovative solutions. The apparent acceleration of climate disruption and disaster is likely to be a useful motivator for groups seeking better political mechanisms. The new ideas won’t necessarily be the right ones, but they will be innovative and disruptive. It’s clear that existing institutions and norms aren’t letting us succeed, so we’re likely going to see experimentation (sometimes desperate experimentation) with new approaches in a fearful drive to avoid catastrophe. Similarly, the growing risks associated with ethically-blind or limited technologies will push for greater adoption of programs like the ‘Ethical OS’ model. We’ll probably see multiple examples of technological failures and misbehaviors associated with incomplete ethical approaches over the 2020s, sometimes with truly awful consequences. Especially as complex technologies get used for climate remediation, we’ll want to make sure that the solutions don’t cause more problems than they resolve.”

Frank Kaufmann, president, Twelve Gates Foundation, said, “All tools that support and enhance natural human capacities and human qualities can do no other than enhance the chance for improvement The dangers lie in unethical, impoverished tech geniuses with no sound basis for the power their capacities afford, and subsequently, the lack of ethics then gets replicated in tech structures. Protection against these real dangers cannot come purely from tech, but can be enhanced by using tech constructively. I hold fully and unequivocally that every external development and advance including all tech horizons (artificial intelligence, robotics) have every chance to enhance human life in ALL its dimensions from spiritual to mundane There is a great danger that those who have emerged as most highly skilled and powerful in the development of tech grew up in a morally, spiritually and ethically thin, shallow and impoverished age. Through NO fault of their own, powerful tech people lack the maturity, stability, spiritual wisdom and sensibility to carry their opportunities and responsibilities safely forward. For this reason, we face both grand and massive positive change, but equally the likelihood of severe, dehumanizing horrors.”

Jeff Jarvis, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, wrote, “It would be a mistake to connect all these questions to internet technology alone, both because technological determinism would be misplaced and because there are so many other factors at work (and because predictions are meaningless). The question, again, is not about technology’s impact on people but on people’s use of technology. Will we be able to come together as social and political entities to negotiate reversal of climate change, retraining of the workforce facing change, reducing the anxiety we put especially your children through and so on? Those are nearly eternal questions. The internet is just one new factor in a complex mess of considerations.”

Jeffrey Alexander, senior manager, innovation policy, RTI International, said, “Due to its nature as a general-purpose technology, digital technology is accessible to a broad and growing segment of the world population, and so it provides substantial economies of both scale and scope. Technology will introduce phenomena and trends that demand greater social and civil innovation. For example, the weaponization of social networks in elections had led to tremendous innovation in methods for detecting that same weaponization and for activating both technical experts and lay citizens in deploying countermeasures. The global reach of digital technology also enables trans-jurisdictional forms of cooperation, communication and governance. Financial technology in particular can provide resources for localized social innovations that can then be diffused globally. The internet already has changed the nature of what ‘communities’ look like, allowing small, niche segments of local communities to find like-minded segments of communities worldwide and then band together to become more significant influences in multiple regions and countries. Potential avenues of increased social and civic innovation through digital means include faster and more efficient ways to link citizens to government (e.g., online petition sites such as Change.org), new methods of communal discourse and decision-making (including coordination of in-person encounters, like Meetups, and online forums like Reddit), and completely new social ventures to develop and implement social change (the way that GoFundMe enables a new form of charitable support). As long as the infrastructure of the internet remains open and broadly accessible to innovators, it will provide a platform for civic innovation. Most social and civic innovation is likely to happen in spite of large tech companies. Social innovators are unlikely to displace the companies that dominate the tech sectors, because those firms are operating based on network economics that are difficult to regulate without seriously disrupting the management and operation of critical infrastructures. However, wise regulation of downstream market power will help social innovation to thrive – such as net neutrality regulation. As long as platform operators are proscribed from competing with or quashing platform users, the environment for social innovation will be healthy. Maintaining the status quo or weakening such regulation will inhibit such innovation. But to some extent, innovators may be able to ‘route around’ dominant tech firms due to the decentralized nature of digital innovation. I would expect to see pockets of societies where more cooperative infrastructures (such as mesh networks) are used in place of existing centralized platforms, but I also expect them to be the exception and not the rule. Corporate-owned platforms are simply too convenient.”

Fred Baker, board member of the Internet Systems Consortium and longtime leader in IETF and ICANN, said, “We are seeing abuses of corporate and national power being brought to light an addressed. I’m not crazy about some of the activities my country is doing in that area. That said, there is public debate; I expect that will lead to improvements.”

Jon Lebkowsky, CEO, founder and digital strategist, Polycot Associates, wrote, “Pessimism here is not an option: We have to leverage the aspects of technology that will support social and civic innovation, and suppress the detrimental aspects that have emerged recently. One question: Who is the ‘we’ that will take effective action, and what actions might we take? Regulation is not enough; we must encourage broad and popular commitment to innovation and civic values. A first step to doing this is to overcome the noise and distraction promulgated by social media as a market for attention. So much depends on the character of the emerging generations and new leaders, and the extent to which they can and will take charge with a commitment to social and civic innovation. I’m optimistic because I think we have to be, but my scores reflect a weak optimism from an understanding of how far we’ve fallen and how much we have to do. A critical and effective path forward would depend on a rethinking of digital media and the marketplace for attention, and on the ethical frameworks adopted by millennials and post-millennials.”

Beth Noveck, director, NYU Governance Lab and its MacArthur 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. As a result of first-hand familiarity with the development of new tools to help decrease long term unemployment and improve access to educational and job opportunities for workers. I am optimistic about potential positive benefits for works from social and civic innovation. 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.”

Harold Feld, senior vice president, Public Knowledge, said, “The history of 150 years of regulation of electronic media shows a consistent pattern of response to the disruption caused by dramatic changes in communications technology. This is often a tug-of-war between emerging individual freedom and innovation and emerging gatekeeper control. So far, the need to maintain flexibility even by gatekeepers, so as to maintain their networking power, weights this balance in favor of continued innovation. Change is inevitable. Human beings are communicating social creatures, and every new disruptive innovation in communication causes significant innovation and reorganization of commerce and civic engagement. With the exception of cable television, these have ultimately proven more positive and negative. I therefore remain optimistic as to widespread positive change, especially with the rise of a more politically active socially engaged generation.”

Henning Schulzrinne, Internet Hall of Fame member and former chief technology officer for the Federal Communications Commission, wrote, “The question is ill-posed since the answer depends on the social and political environment, not technology as such. Thus, the answer may well differ significantly between countries and regions. In certain countries, the state will make sure that there is no social and civic innovation, at least one that fundamentally threatens the existing power arrangements. In other countries, where private industry has largely captured regulatory and legislative bodies, protections of privacy and against artificial intelligence-based discrimination, for example, or mitigation of social problems will be difficult as long as they are not aligned with industry interests. The U.S. system is designed for not getting things done, at least at the federal level and to some extent at the state level. Thus, there will be social and civic innovation in big cities and in some states (e.g., California), but very little at the federal level. My pessimistic answers were reflecting the likely trajectory for the United States at the federal level, not all countries or, to some extent, even U.S. regions. Given the persistent structural electoral and process advantages for change-resistant political forces in the United States, I do not see much hope for any change, as these issues are not seen as important, the status quo is seen as beneficial or regulation or antitrust mechanisms are seen as ideologically incompatible. Change will be threatened, but largely to extract concessions on content filtering policies. Also, none of the changes are easy or without possible negative and hard-to-predict side effects, further delaying change. The currently acceptable tools of policy making, such as disclosure, are unlikely to address many of the problems. The changes required, such as significantly stronger labor protections, seem extremely unlikely as long as the existing Senate and presidential majorities hold. Antitrust remedies, in the unlikely case that they will be pursued, seem to have limited impact, as small and large tech companies seem to largely follow the same models of data and labor exploitation.”

Susan Etlinger, industry analyst, the Altimeter Group, responded, “We need to let go of techno-solutionism – the notion that the problems caused by technology can only be solved by more technology. Yes, we are already seeing useful technology tools (adversarial machine learning techniques to identify bias, or artificial intelligence systems of record for interpretability and accountability, for example) but we also need to incorporate transparent and deliberative decision-making, and, in some cases, actual structural change such as regulation to ensure that we are addressing not just the symptoms but the root causes of inequality. In this respect, there is as much value to considering how social and civic innovation can inform our use of technology as there is the other way around. There are a couple of issues with artificial intelligence in particular that are reasonably tractable from a technology perspective: (1) reducing unwanted bias in data sets, data models and algorithms, and (2) improving interpretability of those algorithms. For the first, it is possible to add data to an image dataset to make it more reflective of human diversity (for an example, see the ‘Gender Shades’ research authored by Joy Buolamwini and Timnit Gebru). For the second, there is a great deal of research being conducted on methods to improve interpretability of algorithms without reducing their performance. These are both good things; first, because algorithms that perform similarly on different groups are less likely to perpetuate harmful outcomes specifically related to accuracy (for example, incorrectly identifying someone as a criminal suspect), and second, because interpretability provides a level of transparency that aids decision-making and, potentially, promotes trustworthiness. But it’s important not to equate bias reduction with fairness. The technology can only take us so far, and it is up to us to construct or adapt our human rights and justice frameworks to ensure that we are using the technology in a trustworthy and humane manner.”

Susan Price, founder and CEO, Firecat Studio, user-centered design and communication technologies expert, said, “Although progress is not directly linear, especially when viewed from within a backlash (which I believe we ARE in now), overall progress will prove to be in a direction that benefits citizens. In my career, I’ve ridden several technology waves trending steadily toward individual empowerment; examples include personal computers, desktop publishing, the internet, the world wide web and social media. There’s a definite rhythm to adoption that goes like this: 1. Early adopters, idealists seize the opportunity and have a utopian type brave new world experience 2. Commercial interests discover the opportunity and add a lot of noise, along with a lot of financial energy 3. People learn to filter; solutions to help people maximize their benefit and minimize their pain emerge. Small businesses and individuals have lowered barriers to entry and unprecedented access to global markets. They use an increasingly robust set of business amplifier tools – things like content management systems, open source software, (e.g., platforms like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla) and emerging tech services/products like email marketing, marketing funnel platforms, analytics. The cost of these systems is often our privacy, sharing the data we generate through our activities. As the technology and civic leaders’ understanding of the issues mature together, we’ll see the pain lessen over time as more appropriate regulation is put into place. We’re already seeing substantial efforts toward civic innovation in San Antonio, Texas, and in our neighboring community, Austin. Several groups sponsor and promote civic innovation, and they’re working together to achieve synergy, inviting the public to engage at various points, investing in expert facilitation, surveys, making public data more easily findable and usable and issuing calls to citizens and stakeholders to use the data to solve problems. I’m personally involved in several public/private partnerships, as a vendor/consultant and as a citizen. The problems of public emotional, mental and physical health as we adapt to a lifestyle that is less active, more focused on electronics, will be slower to solve.”

Henry Lieberman, research scientist, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), said, “Just as the agricultural and industrial ages transformed the way people make a living, enabling advances in things like market economies and democratic governance, the AI/Information age will enable social and civic innovation. Artificial intelligence and 3D printing will allow individuals and small groups to be productive in ways that can only be done now by big companies and governments. That will lead to a decentralization of power and new means of cooperation and collective decision-making. See http://www.whycantwe.org/. The continued progress of science will make advances in all areas, such as physical and mental health, etc. The perceived ‘dangers’ of digital technology – loss of privacy, job loss, fake news and hate speech, ‘dehumanization’ of society, etc. – are mostly pathologies of capitalism, not pathologies of technology. The next economic systems won’t have the perverse incentives of capitalism that lead to most of these problems. See http://www.whycantwe.org/.”

Jerry Michalski, founder of REX, the Relationship Economy eXpedition, wrote, “Useful civic technology already exists in programs like Taiwan’s pol.is, the Enspiral Network’s Loomio and OpenPlans. The problem is that these solutions are nascent and not yet contagious. Just as LinkedIn ate the modern resume and Facebook ate our social lives, what if a new platform became more credible than voting? We don’t need better voting every four years; we need credible, distributed, ongoing collaboration among citizens.”

Seth Finkelstein, programmer, consultant and EFF Pioneer of the Electronic Frontier Award winner, wrote, “It’s instructive to examine how this evolved with ‘copyright.’ As soon as that was affected by technological change, a legal regime was put in place. It included everything from ‘paracopyright’ offenses (e.g., circumvention), to more civil and criminal penalties for violations. Huge lawsuits are brought and fought over the obligations of various third-party content companies regarding infringements. This happened immediately and vigorously because extensive business interests were involved. But the lives of ordinary people are a different matter. For that case, we need to look at where corporations are at least slightly constrained, e.g. Europe. There’s an uproar in the U.S. every time a privacy or data-protection law is applied against the surveillance business model, but those laws will likely be toughened as the overall issues become more prominent in the public mind. The topic of ‘revenge porn’ is a significant case, where there’s been outright criminalization. It’s especially relevant as another instance where the legal system is widely thought to be able to address new harms. I’m not hopeful about ameliorating the social-media hate mobs. The driving causes there are too deeply linked to the incentives from outrage-mongering. I should note there’s a cottage industry in advice about social-media pitfalls and good conduct. But this is hardly better than the simplistic ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ That’s not bad advice in itself, but it’s no substitute for something comparable to laws and regulations against fraud. Corporations that have their entire focus on selling advertising around outrage and surveillance are not stewards of news, democratic institutions, beneficial self-expression and so on. They are not ever going to become such stewards, as that is not what they do. However, it is generally not a good career strategy for someone to advocate programs such as extensive public funding of news and education, strong worker protections, laws encouraging unions, general support of public goods (that will likely not produce speaking fees or think-tank grants from those corporations). I suspect some the recent interest in the effects of ‘algorithms’ is in part a way of talking about these problems in a more politically acceptable manner, without directly addressing capitalism. This is all tied into the issues of inequality, plutocracy and the destruction of civic spaces. Monopolistic big businesses aren’t your friend, unless you’re a plutocrat. Either such companies are reigned in, or society becomes highly distorted by their profit imperatives. We can make minor changes around the edges here, with stronger data protection laws, or demanding the marginalization of some specific bad actors who have grabbed the attention of a bunch of pundits. But that is all simply addressing the worst symptoms, not the cause. The particular technological background is different in various eras. But we shouldn’t let that blind us to the historical underlying fundamental political conflict.”

Jim Cashel, author of “The Great Connecting: The Emergence of Global Broadband and How That Changes Everything,” said, “Over the last several centuries there has been remarkable human progress in health, education, food production, environment, safety and other metrics of well-being. Progress will continue, and in many parts of the world will accelerate, due to the extension of the internet and innovations in social programs.”

Jim Hendler, Tetherless World Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, responded, “Digital natives are already adapting to technologies in ways we ‘old folks’ have significant challenges in understanding. Just as anyone whose aging parent is challenged by the need to use a computer, so those of us who are in the early throes of the current technologies are worrying about the impacts. However, just as we were taught ‘don’t believe everything you read in the paper,’ the next generations are already learning to take social media with a grain of salt. If we can create some commonsense legislation on local, national and/or international levels, society will adapt to the changes. Don’t get me wrong, there will be social upheaval and significant change – but the techlash we are seeing today is the leading edge not of a new Luddite-revolution, but of positive changes that can result if we maintain traditional social ethics during the time of change. It won’t be easy, but human society has proven to be resilient to change for a long time – I think, or perhaps hope, that civil and social innovation will help us through the current technological change. Perhaps I should note that while I am an optimist about handling these technologies, there are other factors at work, ranging from climate change, the growth of authoritarian governments and social inequalities, that worry me far more.”

Jim Rutt, former CEO of Network Solutions, and past chair, Santa Fe Institute, commented, “The nets are an ecosystem with huge evolutionary potential. Exactly how this will unfold in response to the problems caused by technology isn’t clear to me, but that it will seems very likely.”

John Battelle, co-founder and CEO, Recount Media, and editor-in-chief and CEO, NewCo., commented, “Technology is how we communicate. So if we are to make any progress, we’ll use technology. And I’m an optimist. The lens of history will mark the next 10 years as fundamental to overall progress across a historical timeframe. It’ll feel like a decade of going nowhere while we digest the full impact of these technologies. But it won’t be lost in the eyes of history.”

John Carr, a leading global expert on young people’s use of digital technologies, a former vice president of MySpace, commented, “I know of no proof for the notion that more people simply knowing more stuff, even stuff that is certifiably factually accurate, will necessarily lead to better outcomes for societies. But I do harbour a hope that if, over time, we can establish the idea that there are places on the internet that are reliable sources of information it will in the medium to longer term help enough people in enough countries to challenge local demagogues and liars, making it harder for the demagogues and liars to succeed, particularly in times of national crisis or in times when war might be on the visible horizon. I used to think that if the internet had been around another Hitler would be impossible. Recently I have had a wobble on that but my optimism ‘trumps’ that gloomy view.”

Lee McKnight, associate professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies, commented, “Social and civic innovation with technology will not inevitably mitigate ‘techlash’ (a cutesie term with a negative connotation for the objective reality that amoral internet platforms are causing significant social harms to societies, and harming competition and economic growth), but it is already happening. Some of the civic innovations we can point to are merely further scaling up technologies and approaches already established for certain more limited purposes, for example open data and open source software systems and tools will continue to be data architectures and software development approaches of choice for social good. Multi-stakeholder and participatory, socially inclusive groups and tools will also continue to gain increasing favor across nations, since so many of our challenges are beyond the capability and tools of any one government entity or actor to reasonably address. The U.N. and World Economic Forum’s recently-announced collaboration, which does have its limitations, is as much as anything an admission by the ‘techlashed’ Davos elite that they have to humbly try to do more to accept their own limitations, and recognize the roles and contributions of many other actors, and especially civic innovators whose motivations extend beyond being able to afford to hang in Davos. Whether it is with the help of refinement and expansion of impact investing marketplaces, social entrepreneurs will have both access to tools and the ability to create their own innovative ‘cloud-native’ applications at a fraction of the cost of past civic innovations. I know new approaches to civic engagement are bearing fruit and will continue to do so, again because I am close enough to the scene to see the positive indicators that change is underway and cannot be stopped. I know for example that social and civic innovations will improve education and training including on information security awareness across cities, communities, regions and states. I know this because I am witnessing early stage efforts for which there are already enough data points available to project the future S-shaped adoption curve of and diffusion of health, economic and other social benefits worldwide. I have also been around long enough to witness lots of damage done, sometimes intentionally, to the social fabric, so recognize there are evil-doers out there including a resident of a certain all-too-white House. But aside from those deluded few with attitudes of many of ‘apres moi, le deluge’ in their heart of hearts, in everyone else’s heads, there is growing recognition, for example, it is only through social action and innovation that climate change can be mitigated, and the impact for changing climate for technology companies is also clear. Thomas Jefferson’s aphorism ‘Do Well by Doing Good’ is timely and trendy in a way it hasn’t been for centuries. Because that ethos for technology entrepreneurs is increasingly recognized as the only way many people will expect firms offering technology innovations to approach them: humbly and with a broader social mission and accounting not just as a corporate social responsibility after-thought, but as a core value of the products and companies themselves.”

Adam Powell, senior fellow, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, wrote, “We will master this or we will fail. Historically we have mastered technologies – gunpowder, nuclear – so I am optimistic we can do this, too. Yes, I believe innovation (which is really what you are probing) can make significant positive changes – except for the industry itself, because there is so little incentive to do so. Maybe DuckDuckGo and Firefox can show the way.”

Alan Honick, documentary filmmaker and project director for PROSOCIAL, helping people work together to create cooperative multi-group ecosystems, said, “Positive (successful) social innovation will only come about if information technologies evolve to provide information that is trustworthy, accurate and reliable. My positive answer to the second question was aspirational, based on the hope that it will. In ranking the 10 items in likelihood for change, I answered 10 to the first general question because it is inarguable that major social innovation tied to the evolution of information technology will take place over the next decade. I answered 5 to all of the specific questions regarding areas of social change for the same reasons as I felt ambiguous about the earlier questions. I believe we are at a major inflection point right now, and the variables are too much in flux to make defensible predictions about which way any of these things will go. I think they are all dependent on the same thing as I mentioned earlier: whether or not technology evolves to become a purveyor of accurate, trustworthy and reliable information.”

Alan Inouye, senior director, public policy and government, American Library Association, said, “Today, there are nearly infinite opportunities to provide input – if you only have the time. I foresee a time when we’ll have agents (use of artificial intelligence technology) that provide this input or make requests on our behalf. You’re having a discussion with your travel partner and you are queried about a comment to Trip Advisor. You say yes and it is generated automatically. Ditto if you are discussing the state of STEM learning and you are advised that Senator has a bill – would you care to send a comment to her office? If you reply yes, it is done automatically on your behalf. The next level agent takes these actions automatically based on your preferences.”

Alejandro Pisanty, professor, UNAM, the National University of Mexico, an activist in multistakeholder internet governance, wrote, “I object your three-options formulation. There is a chance for innovations that will improve civic life, in platforms that enable and enhance the collaborative side of human beings and institutions. The proper incentives must be in the architecture from the start. It also has to build upon the fatigue that hate and polarization may produce, while allowing people to come together from opposite positions, cool down, identify substantial differences and create a framework where they can postpone even some seemingly existential questions. Here as in everything else, technology alone will not do the job. A commons-oriented management of shared resources is one of the political components that will be needed. The internet provides an example, including many failures, of how to manage globally a resource that started as a sort of commons but quickly enabled property rights to arise. They coexist, even if roughly. I expect to see a differentiated approach. From a developing or middle development country point of view, there is room for spontaneous, issue-oriented, temporary campaigns that may give rise to broader social movements and even parties that will better represent and solve problems. Technology’s contribution is limited; it only works as an enabler, at best. We are wasting valuable time for humankind when we focus on technology and platforms, or even in privacy and control over data, and not on conduct, a whole chain of conduct from the active subject of a possible manipulation to the harms suffered by others and society as a consequence of manipulation and other abuses. It’s not that tech is not important; it is that we overlook what goes on around it.”

Alex Halavais, associate professor of critical data studies, Arizona State University, wrote, “There has long been a tension between civic uses of networked technologies and their co-option by both industrial and government actors. From open source projects, including things like Wikipedia, to the blogosphere, the early social web has largely given way to advertising-based platformization. Throughout this process there have been attempts to make space for more civic and public online spaces, but these have met with relatively meager success. There is a growing backlash against the corporate web, which creates the opportunity for new projects within the cooperative web. These are hardly a sure thing, of course, but there seems to be a growing interest in approaches that ‘route around’ corporate excesses by platforms that seem beholden to advertisers, and to a much lesser degree to government regulation. We already know how to build cooperative online spaces, and revelations of the last couple of years are providing those who interact online to seek out alternatives at a growing rate. It is always hard to bet against entrenched power, but the current conflicts give me hope. There is an increased recognition of the value of good journalism, and that means a flight to quality. It’s true that digital subscriptions to the ‘big three’ newspapers in the U.S. do not yet mark a sea change, but an interest in these along with a number of smaller investigative news and data organizations suggest a directional change. I suspect people will be willing to pay for a Facebook replacement that allows for more pro-social outcomes. I am less optimistic about the future battles that will attempt to balance safety with privacy. There are already regulatory rumblings about once again attempting to control cryptographic structures, but there is no turning back from good end-to-end encryption at this stage. As people leave the more easily-monitored platforms and turn to more secure spaces for interaction (as well as seeking, for example, trustworthy Internet of Things structures), there will be an ever-increasing set of regulatory tensions that will recapitulate the crypto wars of the last century.”

Alex Simonelis, a professor of computer science at a university based in Canada, said, “My general optimism leads me to think these will improve. I could easily be wrong.”

Alexander B. Howard, independent writer, digital governance expert and open government advocate, said, “Civic innovation in the USA has come from multiple sources in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Cities, states, Congress, federal agencies and even the courts will all build better services, interfaces and governance frameworks for public access to information, participation, policymaking and voter registration. So will existing tech companies that work with them, along with ones yet to be founded that will pioneer models for participatory media that don’t depend on surveillance capitalism. Media companies, particularly nonprofits, will be a key force for innovation in connecting the public writ large and specific communities to trustworthy information and one another by adopting and developing both open and closed networks. Libraries and schools will perform similar roles in many communities, as teachers continue to experiment with improving education. Researchers and scientists at universities will collaborate with watchdogs, technologists and government to build better tools and approaches. 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, 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.”

Alexander Cho, digital media anthropologist and postdoctoral scholar expert in youth and social media, University of California-Irvine, wrote, “The problems of the ‘digital age’ aren’t new problems. What we are seeing is that ‘digital’ acts as a magnifier, accelerator and exacerbator of historical conduits of power that may have not been as obvious to folks before. And people are already using those same digital media to try to effect change. The wellspring of attention to anti-black state violence or to unpacking the gender binary or to calling attention to wealth inequality – all of these are social and civic conversations that are not new but that have been catalyzed through digital media. We will see more effort on the government level to grapple with the problem of a few companies holding massive amounts of personal information.”

Amali De Silva-Mitchell, a futurist and consultant participating in multistakeholder, global internet governance processes, commented, “Social innovation that is effective for social change is critical. However, it is possible there may be a lot of money spent on talk but no action. Talk, however, is essential to have even the minimal foundation for social innovation. It will be worrying if there is no real impact of the majority of voices that are listened to through data collections but brushed over by civil society going after safe funding and elected officials not seeing a future vision and working only in the present. We require real champions for advocating issues and carrying them to term, who will have freedom of expression and no brush over. We have to take care of quick and major shifts due to popularism by all parties in the absence of good risk management practices being upheld or glossed over. Too much of broad-brushstroke policy can also be an issue. The situation is still evolving. Over the past four years we have seen public awareness regarding matters on technology increase exponentially. However, people still remain innocent regarding fake news and are prone to popular viewpoints. It is going to take a lot more awareness and education at all demographic points for the full benefit of technological innovation to be reached. We are lagging behind and the longer it takes to get messages out the more it is going to take to get the message out – on ethics especially.”

Amy Sample Ward, a director with the Nonprofit Technology Network, said, “Innovations are a response to a challenge, and we face many social and civil challenges now and will in the years to come. Interestingly, some of those challenges are the current technologies themselves. The internet in general, smartphones, applications are all tools that could fuel new ideas, and likely new technologies.”

Andrea Romaoli Garcia, an international tax lawyer actively involved with multistakeholder activities of the International Telecomunication Union and Internet Society, wrote, “The changes are positive despite the political, social and economic challenges that policymakers, rulers, governments, scientists, engineers and everyone that is working in a technological industry are facing. Countries with healthy economies invest in trade and foreign relations. Kindly, note that the countries with high technological and economic levels where citizens experience a full social life are countries with high levels of respect for human rights. They are countries that have incorporated in the internal laws the norms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For example, the humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is experiencing. The country suffers from food shortages, economic crisis and a collapsed health system. More than 3 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015. The government there has no support from the citizens. In the other hands, we have technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, big data and blockchain when combined are bringing breakthroughs and solutions. The maximization of tax application as well as the state cash flow can be increased through the elimination of criminal financial activities such as laundering money and corruption. Too much public money is flowing that way. Artificial intelligence is bringing equivalent effects like the cure for physical disabilities… it is wonderful. And what do I see ahead? Hyper-globalization has international trade as the point that links the human survival and government decisions to a very high level of dependency. The bigger participation of citizens in political discussions will be improved by technologies and responsible international cooperation. One of the trends that technologies like AI, Internet of Things, blockchain and digital assets can implement means the benefits to avoid corrupt judicial enforcements against unemployed and poor people and women victims of domestic violence or violent men. The new Holy Inquisition is the judicial inquisition. And the new witches are the unemployed and businesses. Unemployed and businesses are being hunted by partials and unlawful judicial decisions around the world. There are social groups that are enriched by human misery, and these groups buy laws and judicial decisions. Everything that a corrupt system allows. In many countries judicial decisions are happening in a partial way with the aim of expropriating property or closing the doors of companies threatening monopolies. It doesn’t sound like justice when a judge takes houses, goods or identity and professional documents as a passport and driver’s license without giving the victim the chance to defense. In Brazil this is happening without even notifying the victims. However, the technologies will help to build the equitable justice due to the tools and information available to citizens that will make easier the PARTICIPATIVE POLITICAL DECISIONS. Another point, the new ethical standards and regulatory frameworks are coming up to guarantee that this information and data will be treated in a lawful way. The technology alone will not be able to perform its full potential. A strong and affordable equitable justice system is required.”

Andrew Lippman, senior research scientist and associate director, the Media Lab, MIT, wrote, “There are social reforms that would be good, such as changing Section 230 of the Communications Act that relieves ‘platform’ companies of responsibility for what is done on those fora. While the law might have been a good idea when it was passed, it needs updating and better application. If a company processes the information that is contributed or selectively distributes it, then they are not a simple platform, they are exerting editorial control. Also, there are technologies that can protect privacy and personal data if we choose to use them. We have not done so in the past, but one never knows. Working against this is the network effect – large companies such as Facebook have a potentially overwhelming advantage. Society may change its attitude toward that as well. While researchers should and will consider ethical issues in how they do work, what they work on may not change.”

Andrew Nachison, chief marketing officer, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, commented, “I don’t see tech per se as ‘the answer’ to our woes. We need a new regime to pay for local journalism, and advocacy to popularize new visions will help us get there. But what we really need are more reporters on the ground, in the field, interviewing people face to face and investigating corruption and human needs. Tech is incidental to presence. Artificial intelligence and advancing capabilities with data will enhance biotech and the search for genetic insights, new cures and treatments, and gradual improvements in medical records tech should empower individuals as well as medical professionals to make better decisions, coordinate care and improve outcomes. But will tech bring more fresh local produce to communities that lack it? Or pervasive mobile broadband to rural areas and towns so the people who live in them can access financial, medical and other services as well as people who live in San Francisco? Will tech repair and replace crumbling bridges, or revive underinvested communities that are fading as wealth and people accumulate in just a handful of booming metropolises? Will tech wipe out the discrimination in work, banking, housing and commerce that tech now enables with unprecedented efficiency? Markets and capitalism are failing. People and policy makers will have to force these things. Tech may help us rally, share knowledge and activate citizens and policy makers, but anti-government zealots and people paid to preserve the status quo will also use tech to fight us every step of the way. The fundamental question we need to answer isn’t about tech, it’s about people. Who will lead us to a better world?”

Ann Adams, a retired technology worker, wrote, “Once the profit model changes, mitigation will follow. Unfortunately, governments have to intervene, as businesses currently have no incentive to change. I am moderately hopeful that the excesses of the current system will change, but not overly optimistic.”

Arthur Asa Berger, professor emeritus of communications, San Francisco State University, author of 60 books, commented, “Innovation is a two-edged sword: it can be used for negative purposes (new viruses, for example) or positive purposes (diagnose medical problems using smartphones.) The development of Twitter is now used as a propaganda tool by the president – a negative innovation as I see things. The internet can also be used to create flash mobs for protesters of the political order or champions of it. So a good deal depends on the ingenuity of those using innovations for their own purposes.”

Artur Serra, deputy director, i2CQT Foundation and Research Director of Citilab in Catalonia, Spain, said, “In spite of the real danger of ‘techlash’ I do see a lot of success in social and civic innovation across the world. Four billion people are now connected to the same infrastructure, the internet, that we the science and technology community put in place decades ago. This is creating the conditions for an explosion of open creativity and innovation never seen before. A huge wave of labs of all kinds (living labs, fabrication labs, social labs, education labs, innovation spaces, even policy labs) is emerging as the new kind of groups and communities of the digital era. We are moving from the net to the lab. In the 2030 horizon, many of these labs will gather and agree in generating the first universal innovation ecosystems in regions and countries. (https://www.ecsite.eu/activities-and-services/news-and-publications/digital-spokes/issue-45) I see the following. 1) Social innovations with a positive impact: The generation of a network of open labs involving an increasing amount of the population will produce a substantial betterment of computer skills and competencies of the population, more collaborative digital systems, a deeper ethical orientation of digital systems and higher demand for participatory democracy. 2) Problems unlikely to be mitigated: The situation for workers will be stagnant for a long period. Digital media will remain a battleground for partisan war instead of a place for finding common solutions. And general mental health will continue to be terrified by bad news and the uncertainties of the era.”

Arzak Khan, director, Internet Policy Observatory-Pakistan, said, “Civic innovation is the new way civil society, businesses and entrepreneurs are addressing the issues of society where technology is playing a key role in devising solutions and tools to address the modern age problems. The idea is old but due to the revolutionary power of technology including the internet it is making great impacts on civic innovation and social change. The growing use of technology and connecting the missing billions will result in more innovation in technology, ultimately bringing social change in the form of new groups and tools that bring transparency and accountability. Civic innovation will occur mostly in the political, economic and human-rights domains.”

Axel Bruns, professor, Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University, said, “Adversity breeds innovation, and the present moment is one of severe adversity both for society in general and for a range of distinct societal groups in particular. At the same time that technologies are being used to surveil, control and attack them, such groups are also innovatively repurposing technologies to respond, resist and fight back. But again, while this will generate significant change, it will not simply have uniformly positive or negative outcomes – the same tools that are being used constructively by minorities to assert and protect their identity and interests are also being used destructively by other fringe groups to disrupt and interfere with such processes. Technology is not neutral in any of this, but it is also not inherently a force for good or bad. In general, I see modest progress through social and civic innovation in the coming decade, especially as the current troubles on so many fronts have made people aware of the problems that need addressing, and created the impetus for innovation. But such progress will inevitably also engender resistance from those who continue to benefit from the existing status quo, and who will seek to discourage and deter significant change. This is also a fight over the control over and application of relevant technologies, of course.”

Ayden Férdeline, technology policy fellow, Mozilla Foundation, responded, “Imagine if everyone on our planet was naked, without any clear options for obtaining privacy technology (clothing) – it would not make sense to ask people what they’d pay, or trade, to get this technology. This is a ‘build it and they will come’ kind of scenario. We’re now on the verge, as a society, of appropriately recognizing the need to respect privacy in our Web 2.0 world and we are designing tools and rules accordingly. Back in 1992, had you asked people if they’d want a free and open internet, or a graphical browser with a walled garden of content, most would have said they prefer AOL. What society needed was not AOL but something different. We are in a similar situation now with privacy; we’re finally starting to grasp its necessity and importance.”

Banning Garrett, an independent consultant and futurist, said, “Much of the problem with technology has been a result of its democratization. While the current focus is on the extraordinary power and wealth of the big tech companies and their ability to harvest vast amounts of our data for commercial purposes, it is also the case that technology has been democratized and put into the hands of users, incredibly powerful tools of empowerment. These technologies – both the hardware like iPhones and platforms like Facebook – are powerful tools for individuals to not only ‘publish’ their views but also to organize others to act politically. We have already seen this for the last decade, of course, but it could take new and powerful forms in the future as virtual communities become better organized and more powerful politically, bypassing existing political parties and influencing institutions and political outcomes directly. How this will all evolve will not depend on technology but on developments in the economy and political leadership. The post-Trump era could be more of the same divisive, partisan politics, or it could move toward a rejection of the current trends. Social and civic innovation will both influence which direction the country goes and will also be influenced by the trends.”

Bebo White, internet pioneer and longtime leader of the International World Wide Web conference, wrote, “Relief must come in order for much of the using population to retain faith in the value of the technology. It would be very hard for a general user population to differentiate which technological tools can be trusted and which not. For example, for a general, non-technical user, why should they trust Wikipedia and not trust Facebook?”

Ben Schneiderman, distinguished professor of computer science and founder of Human Computer Interaction Lab, University of Maryland, commented, “Social and civic innovation through community, consumer, business and other grassroots organizations will emerge, even as platform owners and government agencies make related efforts to control and regulate malicious actors. Additional sources of innovation could be professional societies, academic researchers, journalists and community leaders. Engaged citizens and residents can use social media tools to gather support, promote causes and point out problems. I see many opportunities for improvement. Personal health seems most likely to improve as access to information on health and health care institutions becomes more widely disseminated. Health care monitoring devices (step counters, heart rate monitors, pacemakers, insulin pumps, etc.) will improve along with exercise monitors, diet and mood trackers, etc., and will become more widely used. Journalism is likely to continue to struggle, but acceptance of pay for news strategies and major donor contributions could stabilize the field.”

Bill Dutton, professor of media and information policy, Michigan State University, said, “The focus on harms noted in your questions are one aspect of a growing dystopian perspective on the internet that is essentially top-led, and not driven by users of the internet as much as by the press, politicians and academia. Unfortunately, the focus on potential harms will foster a great deal of inappropriate regulatory responses that will slow technological and social innovation in significant ways.”

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?’”

Brian Southwell, director, Science in the Public Sphere Program, RTI International, said, “Our core human needs have not changed. Although some people are likely more materially comfortable than ever before, we also are facing important disruptions in the physical environment that will cause sufficient discomfort to prompt people to demand policy responses. Because of the physical discomforts we will face, there will be a market for social and civic innovation, suggesting people will capitalize on the opportunity to create and offer social and civic innovations. Workers will continue to be vulnerable in coming years despite social and civic innovations. We are likely to make some gains in personal health, are likely to face some collective concerns in terms of environmental health and are not likely to cope with the alienation and despair that is a part of a life lived largely online. In the latter case, there is a disconnect between the long period of evolution that honed our humanity and the short period of rapid technology change we are facing. Social media platforms that offer human connection and relationships will grow as they offer something people want and need.”

Bryan Alexander, a futurist and consultant at the intersection of technology and learning, wrote, “Technology remains a tool for social organization, and it will keep playing that role as we organize flash mobs through mixed reality and hack artificial intelligence to plan demonstrations. The techlash can go in a variety of directions, including an anti-AI movement a la Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune.’ But the digital world has progressed too far for most to withdraw completely. Few are willing to go full Unabomber. Instead, people will loudly retreat from one digital platform and move to another, or write about how much they despise Silicon Valley on a shiny new iPad, or show their fine handwritten letter over Instagram. Social movements about technology are challenged by a poor information and media environment. Some media outlets love to attack others, while rumors fly and technology changes rapidly. Escalating income and wealth inequality make me skeptical about the fortunes of workers.”

Byron Reese, CEO, publisher, futurist and author of “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity,” commented, “At its core, does the internet connect us or separate us? Clearly it connects us. Through it, we can find like-minded people with whom we socialize and connect. Facebook is no accident. We are as social as any species there is. We live in communities of our own creation, and it is this simple fact that has brought us from savagery to civilization. Our first attempts at building community online have had both good and bad outcomes. We know them all. But would we have expected otherwise? We are new at digital communities and are inventing them as we move forward. Of course we aren’t going to get it right the first time. But the key question is whether these technologies help us form social bonds or not. Anyone who has posted a question in a forum and received an answer from a stranger knows firsthand that they bring us together. Wikipedia taught us that strangers will work together for a common good. The open source movement and Creative Commons showed that people will labor for free for the benefit of strangers. We haven’t mastered using the internet for social and civic innovation, but it is more than a fair bet that we will.”

Camille Crittenden, deputy director, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, University of California-Berkeley, commented, “Digital tools and platforms will undoubtedly contribute to social and civic innovation in the future. Social media has contributed to movements for labor organizing, issue-driven campaigns and political parties already. These trends will continue as new platforms are developed and participants become more familiar with their interfaces and affordances.”

Caroline Figueres, a strategic consultant based in Europe, said, “Extreme bad behaviour from governments and private companies – GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and the like in China – will create a social and civic innovation to compensate and/or to contribute to an innovation jump. I hope for development of human cooperative brain networks.”

Carolyn Heinrich, professor of education and public policy, Vanderbilt University, said, “My hope (not belief) is that the ‘techlash’ will help to spur social and civic innovations that can combat the negative effects of our digitization of society. Oftentimes, I think the technology developers create their products with one ideal in mind of how they will be used, overlooking that technology can be adapted and used in unintended and harmful ways. We have found this in our study of educational technology in schools. The developers of digital tools envision them as being used in classrooms in ‘blended’ ways with live instructors who work with the students to help customize instruction to their needs. Unfortunately, more often than not, we have seen the digital tools used as substitutes for higher-quality, live instruction and have observed how that contributes to student disengagement from learning. We have also found some of the content lacking in cultural relevance and responsiveness. If left unchecked, this could be harmful for far larger numbers of students exposed to these digital instructional programs in all 50 states. But if we can spur vendors to improve the content, those improvements can also extend to large numbers of students. We have our work cut out for us! It is difficult to be highly optimistic about the social and civic innovation that will accompany advances in technology, because we have largely seen the positive and negative in abundance. For example, the internet is a great source of information and resources to help people maintain their physical health. I exercised with a video online this morning because I am out of town and could not attend my regular exercise class. However, many people are sitting in front of their computers more rather than getting outside or interacting with the humans around them, which I believe contributes negatively to both physical and mental health. Like anything with useful properties, they can be overused or misused, unless we proactively push the positive uses and build in structures to limit the negative ones.”

Catherine Steiner-Adair, psychologist, researcher and author of “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age,” wrote, “The capacity to create social and civic innovation with tech begins early in life, in the ways that children are educated and cared for, and then throughout their education. I am in schools around the USA and abroad every week, working with hundreds of teachers, parents and students from ages 4-18, looking at the impact of tech on their lives. Not enough children are getting the educational experiences they need to have the tools to be thought/design leaders in the domains of social and civic innovation. We need to completely rethink the Core Curriculum in order to prepare the rising generations for the world they are going to inherit in 2030. Education is critical! Stop putting kids in front of screens all day in school, and then again for homework. We must make major changes in what we teach, how students learn (project-based learning) and how kids are assessed (mastery portfolios, competency and formative assessment). STEAM is critically important, but so is ethics, compassion, a sense of stewardship for each other and the planet. We should teach tech ethics, tech literacy, tech politics, tech health and wellness, the politics and economics of the tech industry – along with SEL and DEI and cultural competency to every student – and address the decline in empathy, attention, self-regulation and the capacity for solitude and the spikes in online hate, anxiety and subclinical issues. The lack of ethics, regulations and accountability in the tech industry is hugely problematic. Our government is a disastrous dysfunctional ‘democracy.’ I have hopes that organizations like The Center for Humane Tech, Pew and Techonomy, folks who share my concerns about the lack of regulation and ethics in the industry and will start a counter revolution. My domain is educating the rising generations. If I were Educational Queen for a Day, I’d make a few critical changes that I think could create a tidal wave of pro social and civic change – plant seeds early and water regularly. We know so much about what to do from research when it comes to education, tech and civic engagement – and tragically we don’t do it. Universities are developing new majors in tech ethics and social policy, etc., and those are critical, but let’s start the conversation earlier. The uncertainty about the country, the planet and the scary realities of tech – privacy, hacking identities, elections, cyber terrorism, hate, etc. – hover over daily life. Kids are anxious. Gaming, tech addiction, compulsive checking, etc., are numbing and dumbing down too many lives. We could do much more about SM[AB2]  fallout through education. With adults, the loneliness and fear beneath rage and divisiveness is tragic. I’m excited by the young adults who are engaged in politics and the adolescents who cleave to social justice.”

Charis Thompson, professor of sociology, London School of Economics, and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Technology Council on Technology, Values, and Policy, said, “Technology and social innovation always go together (see arguments in my books ‘Making Parents’ and ‘Good Science’). Some forms will be foreclosed and others will be opened up, so the options for this question – help mitigate, make worse or no effect – left out an important option.”

Charles Ess, professor of digital ethics, at the University of Oslo, said, “Despite the looming, if not all but overwhelming, threats of surveillance capitalism versus the Chinese Social Credit System, there are some encouraging signs that people can develop and exploit the more positive possibilities of current and emerging technologies. First of all, however, it seems clear that putting hope in technology alone is simply mistaken, if not counterproductive. As Merlyna Lim (2018) has convincingly demonstrated in her extensive analysis of global protests since 2010, successful activist movements and ensuring social and political transformations depend on ‘hybrid human-communication-information networks that include social media’ – but in which ‘the human body will always be the most essential and central instrument’ (p. 129 ‘Roots, Routes, and Routers: Communications and Media of Contemporary Social Movements’ in Journalism & Communication Monographs, 20 (2): 92-136.). The rising interest in hacker spaces, DIY and so on shows some indication that at least some numbers of people are increasingly interested in better understanding and utilizing these technologies in the name of good lives of flourishing and democracy, rather than simple consumption. If these movements can be encouraged, such human-social-technological amalgams will continue to spark eruptions of activity and movements in the right directions – as at least counterexamples and counterweights to the otherwise much darker and daunting developments. Substantial evidence shows that social media work all too often very negatively, e.g., as anger is the best emotion for fostering greater likes and sharing, etc. Coupled with the mechanisms of ‘surveillance capitalism’ and/or the growing dominance of the Chinese Social Credit System, I am not optimistic regarding the emergence of social media in which ‘beneficial self-expression, connection and fact-based information are dominant’ (Q5). Specifically, such alternatives have been available for many years now (e.g., Diaspora), but these remain deserts (so far). Similar evidence and observations argue for a cautious middle ground regarding most of the remaining questions. I do see signs of hope, however, regarding Q2 (ethical advances in uses of algorithms) and Q7 (an acceptable balance between personal privacy and public safety). Current events, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission fining Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations, as well as Germany and France likewise fining or investigating Facebook and Google, are significant steps in these directions. Continuing developments along these lines, fueled by the recently implemented EU General Data Protection Regulation, are further grounds for some optimism here. Similarly, the EU is leading the way in establishing ethical uses of artificial intelligence (Q2). At the same time, the world’s largest engineering and standard-setting association, the IEEE, is making substantial progress in establishing frameworks and guidelines for ‘ethically-aligned design’ in AI. All of this raises collateral concerns with ‘ethics washing’ – but we are clearly much further along in these domains than anyone would have predicted even five years ago.”

Charlie Firestone, executive director, Communications and Society Program and vice president, Aspen Institute, wrote, “I am optimistic about the use of technologies toward positive uses in addressing our democratic society. I think this will come as a reaction to the abuses that have given rise to the ‘techlash.’ As abuses increase, which will likely happen in the coming few years, a reaction will bring reforms that will enhance democratic elements such as (1) civic participation and dialogue; (2) more widespread registration, financial contributions and voting; and (3) connecting to neighbors. Increased time watching screens will initially have a detrimental effect on personal health. But advances in medical technologies, along with improved communications involving health, will lead to advances in personal health by the end of the decade.”

Cheryl B. Preston, an expert in internet law and professor, Brigham Young University Law School, said, “As we have more information and more innovation, we think more and better. We grow, search, learn and improve. The Industrial Revolution brought problems, but it brought more solutions. Innovation will bring risk. Change will bring pain. Learning will bring challenges. Potential profits will bring abuse. But, as was the decision of Eve in the Garden of Eden, we need to leave the comfortable to learn and improve. If we can, by more informed voting, reduce the corruption in governmental entities and control corporate abuse, we can overcome difficulties and advance as a society. These advances will ultimately bring improvement to individuals and families.”

Chrissy Zellman, a manager of digital and interactive strategy in the health care industry, commented, “Technology and social media has opened the door to me in particular when it comes to political activism. Upset over the Trump election, I realized that I needed to do more than just like something. I needed to get out there and DO something – attending protest marches, helping with nonprofits for the midterms, mailing postcards or being a poll helper for the day of the election. Technology and social media in particular helped inform me of what I could do to help. Organizations like Indivisible have their own local chapters to help to keep everyone informed of what is occurring and to spread accurate information. I have also been a big supporter of Resistbot, which will send messages to my representatives on topics such as net neutrality, health care, etc. There are too many variables to know whether a good change will result from technology or to what extent – however, we are in an interesting time now where you are seeing what happens when tech is not regulated. We are in a place where guardrails are needed, and actions need to be more real time. Tech can evolve quickly, and we need to be faster in how we adapt. Information needs to be accurate and parameters around governance/ethics need to be in place by these large tech organizations for the systems to be socially and civically acceptable.”

Christopher G. Caine, president and founder of Mercator XXI, a professional services firm helping clients engage the global economy, commented, “As our understanding and use of technology evolves, new models will emerge from people seeking a better daily life and greater harmony among their community. These new models will produce new social and civic innovations and ‘authorities.’”

Christopher Savage, a policy entrepreneur, said, “Technology always starts with the rich/privileged and then diffuses to everyone else – electric lighting, cars, landline phones, TVs, computers, mobile phones, etc. This is going to happen as well with the means of influence over ideology and opinion, and thus with political power. Over the last decade professional political/policy folks have begun to learn to use technology tools (from cable news to email lists to targeted ads to Twitter-enabled flash mobs) to do what they’ve always done: create pressure on elected officials and bureaucrats to do what the professionals want. But the democratizing effects of widely dispersed tools for reaching potential political allies at the grassroots level, combined with growing populist/popular distrust of traditional institutions and interest groups, will begin to erode the message control of those groups. The internet has disintermediated countless institutions that had long had bottleneck control in their domains – from newspapers to taxicab companies to hotels to travel agents. Traditional influencers of opinion and ideology (interest groups and political parties) are ripe for disintermediation as well.”

Cliff Zukin, professor of public policy and political science, Rutgers University, responded, “Of course there will be technical innovation and progress. I don’t think that is the relevant question. The relevant question to me is whether tech innovation will lead to progress in global warming, which is the biggest threat to societies and the planet. And I fear that battle has already been lost. The political system on a global scale did not develop quickly enough, and I fear we have more down than up ahead of us. The logic for the optimism/repairs advances isn’t clear to me. One thing that is clear to me is that money and the profit motive drive things. There is a reason that the rich have gotten richer and that the distribution of wealth has become more concentrated at the top in the U.S. and most other societies. I think one has to expect this will continue to be the case rather than ‘the public good’ somehow becoming a stronger value.”

Clifford Lynch, director, Coalition for Networked Information, said, “I believe (or at least hope) that over the next decade we will see a number of efforts – regulatory, legislative, legal and in evolving social norms – that attempt to deal with at least some of the problems of the current networked digital environment. These problems are hard, and right now we don’t really know what the right solutions are in most cases. We have train wrecks like the General Data Protection Regulation and the ‘right to be forgotten’ in Europe, for example – well-intentioned but horribly flawed. I think one very fruitful approach is to move away from regulating data collection toward punishing bad uses of data. It’s also important to note that while you can regulate relatively ‘good’ actors (for example, most commercial entities), when we are dealing with adversarial or criminal behaviors (for example information warfare campaigns) this is not going to be very effective, and you’ll see a technology arms race that at least currently seems very asymmetric, with advantage to the aggressors rather than the defenders.”

S. Craig Watkins, professor of journalism at the University of Texas-Austin expert in young people’s engagement with media and technology, wrote, “We are seeing the rise of social and civic innovation, especially among what I call ‘young creatives.’ They are at the vanguard of a new movement, an era in ‘civic innovation.’ Young creatives are designing tech tools to train, educate and connect activists around the world. They are pioneering whole new ways to engage in civic expression and storytelling, using data, graphics and video to build whole new forms of civic engagement and political communication. They have turned tech platforms – think smartphones, YouTube, Twitter – into the ‘people’s channel,’ fostering whole new methods for generating awareness about various issues, educating the public and mobilizing communities to take action. The new forms of activism among ‘young creatives’ suggests that rather than diminish civic engagement, their adoption of tech platforms points to an expansion of what counts as civic engagement. We are already seeing pressure applied to tech companies to design tech in ways that address users’ physical and mental health. For example, there is a rise in demand to design tech to better manage how much time we spend with our smartphones, use social media or experience emotional pain from tech engagement. These are concerns that have only come about as a result of growing public pressure and advocacy. The tech companies have long operated under the assumption to drive up usage by keeping people tethered to their platforms. This was their competitive edge. In the not too distant future their competitive edge may be precisely the opposite: designing tech that empowers more efficient engagement with their platforms. Increased public pressure and scrutiny will demand this type of approach to design and product development.”

Daniel Berleant, author of “The Human Race to the Future,” wrote, “People will become more aware of attempts to manipulate them in the digital sphere. This will partially mitigate the problem. Organized efforts to support this will develop in response to realization about the extent and danger of manipulation. These efforts will take root in countries with traditions of freedom. However totalitarian countries will increasingly veer toward more manipulation and control rather than less, because their bosses, whose powers will be enhanced by technology, will increasingly be able to suppress the compensatory mechanisms free and healthy societies will develop. Educational institutions should teach people how to recognize manipulations and manipulative techniques when they occur. No one wants to be manipulated and that will help free societies develop defenses against such destructive forces.”

Daniel Estrada, digital humanities and ethics lecturer, New Jersey Institute of Technology, said, “Global climate change is an urgent issue over the next decade. A changing environment will impose a demand for social and civic change, in the form of mass migration, food and water epidemic, and other health and governance emergencies. These emergencies will require people to organize networks of support online. We will see tools for collective action at both global and local scales, tools for sharing information and resources, for fact checking and rooting out malicious actors. We will also see increasing use of artificial intelligence technologies being used both as tools of oppression, but also as tools to resist digital oppression. The new laws banning facial recognition technologies and requiring bot disclosure give some hints of the legal and political landscape to come.”

David Bernstein, a retired market-research and new-product-development professional, said, “It is my hope that the new generation of citizens will view these challenges as opportunities for innovation. The growth of technology is likely to accelerate some current fledgling innovations in climate science, work-life balance and income disparity. It seems unlikely that social and civic innovations are likely to resolve some issues that have plagued individuals for many decades. While work-life balance may improve, it seems unlikely that innovations will not continue to disrupt our lives. We don’t like change and when our financial and environmental security is threatened, our physical and emotional health suffers.”

David Cake, an active leader of ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users Constituency, said, “Privacy and surveillance is becoming understood as one of the largest, and most complex, issues that must be addressed in the wake of technological change. Attitudes to privacy are emerging as one of the biggest dividers in responses to social and civic innovation. It is clear that privacy and surveillance concerns will only be partially mitigated, as surveillance becomes increasingly practical. But attitudes to use of surveillance techniques will be a major social divider between nations and societies. We see huge rifts emerging around the issue (such as attitudes to the General Data Protection Regulation) and there are certainly nations that are pushing ahead with aggressive surveillance and social control mechanisms. But the existence of the GDPR, and the widespread acceptance of the need for it, is a hopeful sign that acceptance of the need to regulate privacy invasive practices is rising. I expect an increase in privacy regulation. I expect increased understanding of mental health issues related to social media and social dynamics, and some possible regulation designed to mitigate the worst consequences. I do not see strong improvements in the economic diversity of news media, and I see increasing centralisation. This is unlikely to be effectively dealt with by regulation and it may act as a barrier to progress. I see a range of valuable democratic tools emerging, but the impact may depend on social media-driven awareness.”

David Greenfield, founder and medical director, The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said, “Equal digital fairness through widespread, accessible high-speed access; ample education and prevention on digital wellness and internet addiction; teaching sustainable and mindfulness tech and screen use; some government regulation; private/public/industry partnerships on digital wellness. Why social media might just be antisocial. I am not using the term ‘antisocial’ in the typical psychiatric sense here, but more specifically to reflect how excessive use of social media is anything but social or socially affirming. I view social media as actually counter-social. The type of interactions we see within social media are more about social media companies keeping eyes-on-site, as opposed to nutritive social connection and intimacy; in fact, heavy social media use seems to reduce social empathy. Social media is also time consuming and can be addictive. The addiction to social media is, in part, facilitated via social validation looping wherein one posts in order to receive likes and comments, increasing dopamine in the reward centers of the brain, thus facilitating continuous posting and checking. Likes and comments are often doled out by the social media platforms in an intermittent and variable pattern, which the brain reacts to like a slot machine. This variable reinforcement pattern is the most resistant to extinction and therefore, highly addictive.”

Deirdre Williams, an independent internet activist based in the Caribbean, commented, “Use of technology will stimulate change not so much as a tool in itself but as a reminder of what we need to guard ourselves against. It is possible that there may be a revulsion against positive uses of the technology as there was against the peaceful use of nuclear energy to generate electricity; climate change may force us to reconsider the nuclear option and it may eventually ‘accentuate the positive’ about the use of information and communications technology as well. Failure to take advantage of the positive possibilities of ICT will make the pendulum swing more slowly. The biggest problem that I see is dependency. ‘Digital natives,’ having never known anything else, may have difficulty accepting the possibility of solutions that lie outside the technology. This article https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48643756 I found instructive: Mark … had chalk. It was handed to him with instructions by his friend Marty as chaos unfolded outside the Stonewall Inn, the police being pelted with coins and bottles. The homeless teenager set off up the street to scribble three words on the pavement. Then he did the same on a brick wall further up the road. Three words. ‘Tomorrow night Stonewall.’ Lesson? You can start a revolution WITHOUT a cell phone.”

Devin Fidler, futures strategist and founder of Rethinkery Labs, commented, “It is certain that new organizational technologies are being catalyzed and will have a substantial impact over the next decade. Importantly, this includes the emergence of ‘software defined organizations’ that focus on combining the resources available on digital platforms to create value. Ironically, the deployment of these tools could very possibly be sooner than the first widespread deployment of self-driving vehicles. For example, imagine a machine learning-based system designed to *autonomously* 1) identify real estate that is most likely to be undervalued and 2) determine what interventions are most likely to increase value, and then 3) use work platforms to autonomously identify and deploy builders who have demonstrated themselves to be the best available for these particular renovations before finally 4) again using machine learning to maximize selling price. The exploration of this kind of ‘closed loop’ autonomous or software defined company is the focus of much of our current work at Rethinkery. There is nothing about the example above that is not at least technically feasible *today.* The implications here could be both very positive and very negative. You could imagine, for example, a machine learning system that learns through feedback to greatly amplify media that perpetuates fear and uncertainty about a particular asset, currency or region in order to benefit from the volatility created (a short trade, for example) at the expense of stability of the system as a whole. You could even argue that a version of this phenomenon is essentially what we are already seeing play out in our democratic political systems. There is much more to come. These new organizational technologies are now in the process of moving en masse from basic R&D to the deployment phase. Like all design processes, this process will be shaped by the values and stakeholders that the system is built around. At a minimum, it is profoundly important to identify and design around the destabilizing negative externalities that these new organizational technologies create if we are to avoid the possibility of crashing the social ‘operating system’ as a whole. It depends if these questions primarily refer to the U.S. or to the world as a whole. Because the previous questions deal with the design of civic organizational technologies and institutions, rather than purely digital technologies, it is unclear that the United States is positioned to take the lead here. The Ukraine’s Prozorro anti-corruption platform, for example, is an interesting deployment of civic technology that is already ahead of anything the U.S. has developed at a national level, and is already being adopted by other EU countries. Similarly, Estonia is experimenting with organizational technologies around e-citizenship and a rethinking of what it means to be a citizen of a particular society. Even China’s social credit system is an attempt to harness public-sector organizational technologies in new ways, albeit ways that are not in alignment with traditional democratic values. From the U.S. there is mostly silence. It may be that technology development and innovation here is so wedded to the Venture Capitalist and Crossing the Chasm models that *civic* innovation is actually an uphill battle relative to other regions.”

Don Davis, statistics and mathematics teacher, Lakeland Community College, wrote, “There will be two primary innovations in the next 10 years that will fundamentally change our society. First, education will finally catch up with technology to provide new teaching methods, new ways to access students and drive a new modern STEM-based curriculum. Next, the proliferation of firearms in the U.S. will encourage parents to keep their children safe at home so that students will be schooled at home, but thankfully because of technology, will not be homeschooled. The term ‘Fake News’ is the elemental social and civic irony of our time. Soon, we will be able to fact check speeches, news conferences, articles and opinion columns in real time so that deceivers, miscommunicators and propagandists will no longer be able to blur the lines between facts and misdirection.”

Doug Royer, a retired technology developer/administrator, responded, “Openness is good. Just like growing and attending elementary school, you learn what is and is not acceptable behavior. This new digital age allows even more diverse and otherwise isolated views to be aired out and reviewed. People learn. Society learns. This will be an improvement. Some laws will be enacted; mostly it is human insensitivity and over-sensitivity that will be affected for the better. The love of money is the root of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10 – Christian Bible – one interpretation). Companies will, and their stockholders will, continue to desire profit. People will always want things cheaper. Governments will always try to grease the loudest wheel, even when it is just noisy to get attention or money. However, a society having access to trends as they happen, from the people making the decisions, keeps away more manipulation of the masses than ever before possible.”

E. Melanie Dupuis, chair and professor of environmental studies and science, Pace University, said, “I have been reading David Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass. During Reconstruction and Redemption, Douglass’ speeches alternated between celebration and jeremiad. Of course, it was technology that made Douglass’s words visible to a civic public: newspaper and, interestingly, train travel. It is interesting to read about a time when things were definitely getting worse and see how someone like Douglass made sense of that. I don’t think he would have guessed that the darkness would continue so long. I think American darkness will continue but that civil society will eventually re-emerge, as it has in democratic countries over the last two centuries. But what emerges has to be something different from the Democratic Party form of neoliberalism, which honest and good people find problematic. There are sincere people who care about the country who have turned to America First as a reaction to neoliberalism. I don’t blame them for that. As a university professor, I see my students as capable of the kind of civic innovation you are asking about here. That’s where my hope lies. Liberalism needs some healthy rethinking. It is incapable of dealing with global migrations. We have had Great Migrations before. And in all those cases, people would have rather stayed home, not disrupted their lives. But they felt left with no choice. Social and civic innovation will have to start at the global level, beginning with a serious re-thinking of development policy. People need to have good choices for livable lives where they live now. What successful sustainable equitable development will look like, I don’t know. But without global agreements beyond the U.S. and World Economic Forum we will not overcome the civic problems we have today.”

Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles, founder of CornDancer.com, said, “We are snared in a cyber paradox: Yes, we shall create and innovate with code and device, write laws and algorithms intended to protect and defend, come together ‘online’ with enthusiasm and determination – or desperation – to form altruistic and civic-minded groups in pursuit of the common good… but all to little or no avail. There is no good outcome for the smallholder in the coming Decade of Consolidation. The major players through corporate and legislative strangleholds and unbridled economic power shall counter every proactive, positive step forward into the light of a world wide web with an equal or stronger push-back into the dark places of subservience or mute indifference, where sly misinformation or outright oppression flow second-by-second o’er the wires of smart little devices to keep the masses in check. And when one or two original voices do manage to break through the Electric Curtain and begin to wield influence that might threaten the structures of power… well, it’s no longer off with their head but off with their access. There’s software aplenty to shame a persona and destroy a reputation of the offending dissenter. Who can communicate when the lines to the web are cut and the code-carrying carrier pigeons go extinct? So, we retreat to our ‘new kinds of organizations,’ where we can revel in the shared notions of our favorite subculture. Gardening, beauty pageants, Harleys, butterflies and moths, trail bikes, craft beers, radical political economics – you name it, we can find an online community designed to allow us to forget the loss of civic freedoms and personal privacy in favor of the useful distraction. Unlikely to be mitigated by any means are the legion of eyes and ears watching o’er every breath, every move, every decision … tighter and tighter becomes the grip of the State and the Corporation, silencing dissent and controlling the flow of capital, enforcing compliance and manipulating commerce through the means of data collection and analysis … vehicle tags, search engines, facial recognition algorithms, monitoring devices on the commonplace machines and appliances of everyday life, cameras on every street light and traffic signal, in every hallway and marketplace. The ruling passion of the elite and their hired minions o’er the next decade shall be absolute and total control of a population ruled by propaganda-driven fears of scarcity, fears of domination by ill-defined outside forces and unbridled mistrust of The Other. The riot squads are well equipped and restless. They need somewhere to go. Your neighborhood is next.”

Edson Prestes, professor of computer science, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, wrote, “In democratic countries, I believe technology use will contribute to social and civic innovation. People will become more aware about the social implications coming from technology and demand effective actions from governmental bodies to address them. In my view, technology will be used as a way to empower people and demand effective solutions from the government. On the other hand, in authoritarian countries, I expect exactly the opposite. I’m very optimistic with the benefits that technology can bring to the democratic process. I have no doubts democracy itself will be improved and social and civic innovations will improve the quality of life and standard of living of people. My main concern is always associated to places where democracy is incipient or even does not exist. In these countries, I do not see a bright future. Maybe, technology will be used to undermine human rights creating a dystopian scenario.”

Eduardo Villaneuva-Mansilla, associate professor of communications, Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Peru, and editor, Journal of Community Informatics, said, “I’m trying to be optimistic, by leaving some room to innovative initiatives from civic society actors. However, I don’t see this as necessarily happening; the pressure from global firms will probably be too much to deal with. I don’t see how it may happen, mostly because of the combined pressures of a global economy pushing toward more integration between national and global economies, and the threat of the climate emergency. However, there should be some room for optimism.”

Eileen Ruddin, co-founder and board chair, LearnLaunch Inc., said, “Why do I believe there will be social and civic innovation to address this issue? First, because human invention is boundless. Second, because people like you and me, and others, who have created the digital revolution, will continue to work to make it work to solve our real social problems. Example: I have spent the last seven years supporting the use of technology to close opportunity and achievement gaps in education, by founding and growing the LearnLaunch education innovation ecosystem (www.learnlaunch.org). It’s not just me – there are groups engaging young people, getting them to create and make, awarding them new credentials. (e.g., LRNG, now part of Southern New Hampshire University). Facing History and Ourselves now has its first chief technology officer. Online degrees. If you like, I’ll give you many, many examples in education and the social innovation sector. AI for Good…Workforce development will begin to use technology platforms to make it more possible for working adults to get more education and so on. Human nature will not be changed by social and civic innovation. Social and civic innovation that builds communities with norms that value critical thinking and respect for others will be the most needed. Political mechanisms can work to address transition issues, whether they be for individual workers or communities. They can address distribution of income. Additional privacy regulations can be enacted.”

Emilio Velis, executive director, Appropedia Foundation, said, “There is a growing involvement of the internet and technology on behalf of society for civic change. There will undoubtedly be a great surge of these innovations in the next few years. The only drawback to this is the lack of economic incentives to the way they work, especially for underdeveloped settings. How can innovations thrive and be effective for the bottom of the pyramid? Civic and social innovation is not only a process that happens online or within technological innovation, but also offline, on public discourse and personal interactions. Technology is evolving faster than ethics, and the economic possibilities of technologies grow faster than societies are able to protect human liberties and safeguard their well-being.”

Emmanuel Edet, legal adviser, National Information Technology Development Agency, Nigeria, said, “Social norms for the use of the internet and other technology will improve basically because of the human need to survive. It will come through consensus building and government exercising its primary role of citizen protection.”

Eric Goldman, professor and director, High-Tech Law Institute, Santa Clara University School of Law, commented, “Technology offers tremendous solutions to many societal ills, but regulators will thwart that outcome through poorly designed regulatory limits on technology. Your questions are so laden with biases and unstated assumptions, they are virtually unanswerable. For example, why do we need to curb the power of the tech giants? Your question assumes that’s a good thing, but maybe it isn’t. Also, most of your questions depend on whether government leads the way or blocks progress. Odds are that misguided and craven government policy will inhibit all social progress, but maybe we can overcome that.”

Eric Vance, director, Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis, University of Colorado-Boulder, commented, “We’ll have a growing awareness of the importance of ‘unplugging’ or limiting screen time for children and adults. Maybe we’ll use technology (social media) to advertise more face-to-face meetups and outdoor activities without screens.”

Filippo Menczer, grantee in the Knight Foundation’s Democracy Project and professor of informatics and computer science, Indiana University, said, “Social and civic innovations to protect information quality and speech must emerge. This will force us to revisit the current absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment in the U.S. Speech amplified by technology (e.g., social bots and fake accounts) can suppress human speech and therefore cannot be unlimited. As the legal framework will evolve to protect legitimate speech, tools will be developed to help disclose information sources and uncover information manipulation.”

Flynn Ross, a member of the Humanities Council of the state of Maine, wrote, “As the mother of two teenagers (screenagers) I see what quick access they have to events and information. My younger daughter is on feeds that are more pop culture while my older daughter is on more feeds that are critical social movements. We talk about what information they are getting and where it is coming from. As an education professor who is in schools often, I see that the CNN and CBS news that is piped into schools tends to have an industrialized military orientation. This is a powerful tool with a captive audience. In Maine with the 1:1 laptop initiatives and teacher access to the internet for curriculum materials, the potential power for teachers to create a curriculum to help students become critical consumers of information and active citizens is tremendous. There is great potential for progress, but I continue to be astounded at the self-destructive capacity of individuals.”

Frank Feather, president, AI-Future, said, “Education systems will be reformed to include full orientation of the benefits and risks of digital technology applications in the curriculum. Simultaneously, education will increasingly be done remotely. Mass education is obsolete; individualized learning will evolve in all subjects. All students will become STEM educated and will understand the positive benefits and negative harms of technology. Technology will also decentralize the workplace. In society at large, online social networks will be the predominant form of interaction and creation of socio-political movements as needed. The main things that will hold back the benefits of modern technology are old-fashioned views among ignorant and extremist groups, and especially the typical laggard approach of politicians and political systems. They usually are last to get the message. This will particularly be the case as they realize that the democracy brought by new technology will constrain their corrupt instincts.”

Frederico Links, a journalist, governance researcher and activist based in Africa, said, “There is already much, even if mostly still crude, social and civic innovation emerging in parts of the world, which suggests that with time such phenomena will emerge in other parts as well, as technology becomes an ever greater force in everyday interactions across diverse and varying societies as regards tech penetration and adoption. The major social and civic questions are already being grappled with to a greater or lesser extent across the globe, and this will only intensify, probably leading to more substantive globalised discussions and multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary approaches to solving emerging and still unforeseen questions and qualms of the still unfolding digital age. I think we’ll only really see the fixes and innovations effectively play out beyond 2030 in most parts of the world, especially developing countries. But I do believe there’ll be much social and civic innovation, and at an ever-accelerating pace, over the next decade or so. The issues of democracy and human rights – privacy and data protections, etc. – will probably be significantly resolved one way or another over coming years. On issues of mental health and labour disruptions, and other long-standing social issues, I’m not too certain whether significant headway will be made between now and 2030. I think there’ll be pockets of success and valuable insights will emerge to deal with such issues beyond the next decade or so. Digital and socio-economic divides, whatever and wherever they are, are still too great for me to be optimistic about their overcoming between now and 2030. So, we’ll probably win some and lose some.”

Gabriel Kahn, former bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, now a professor of journalism researching innovation economics and entrepreneurship in emerging media at the University of Southern California, wrote, “This is not an either/or. We are not facing a ‘Terminator’-like scenario. Nor are we facing a tech-driven social utopia. Humans are catching up and understanding the pernicious impact of technology and how to mitigate it.”

Garland McCoy, president, Technology Education Institute, said, “This is a no-brainer! Post-industrial, information age countries all have consumer-driven economies. What consumers want, the market or government or both provides and so it will be in this important area. There is no magic in the zeros and ones (binary code). Our new digital age will be governed by the laws of physics. People will continue to be people with all the flaws laid bare. Gutenberg’s press…Martin Luther all had an impact…a ripple in the pond, but the ripples recede and soon the pond is still once more.”

Gary L. Kreps, distinguished professor of communication and director of the center for health and risk communication, George Mason University, said “Open access to relevant information will inevitably spur social innovations and public collaborations. The ongoing evolution of new and powerful channels for digital communication will provide increased opportunities for information sharing and creative development of new and relevant social applications. Potential positive influences of digital information technologies on the quality of public life will depend on the development of robust policies and programs to confront unethical digital communication practices. These new programs and policies should combine the use of powerful information surveillance technologies to identify organized unethical communication practices with strong enforcement programs to prosecute digital information crime perpetrators.”

Gene Policinski, journalist and First Amendment law expert, Freedom Forum Institute, said, “We forget how new the ‘tech revolution’ really is. As we move forward in the next decade, the public’s awareness of the possibilities inherent in social and civic innovation, the creativity of the tech world working with the public sector and public acceptance of news methods of participation in democratic processes will begin to drown out and eventually will surpass the initial problems and missteps. Factors ranging from individual inspiration and imagination to a public sense of self-interest will drive improvements in civic, social and health areas. Disruption likely will continue as rote tasks and occupations subject to machine replication will continue to be done through technology rather than human effort.”

Gennie Gebhart, associate director of Research, Electronic Frontier Foundation, responded, “There will be collective action, larger sharing.”

Giacomo Mazzone, head of institutional relations, European Broadcasting Union and Eurovision, wrote, “Both scenarios could apply, but let’s privilege the positive one. The technology could help to overcome social problems. But in order to do so, there will be – beforehand – the need to deal with globalization issues. In the first industrial revolutions, conflicts were happening within the same country: the workers who were losing jobs because of the innovation first attacked the machines (Luddism), later negotiated the introduction of the machines against some social-protection measures. Today’s mechanism could allow to produce the negative impact in one country and to move the positive ones in another (i.e., close a plant high labor intensive in Country A and to replace it with another one very automatized and artificial intelligence assisted in Country B). In this case the risk is that negotiations that occurred in 19th century will not be possible in the 21st. So the first point to fix is about globalization and tax payment. After that would be possible to discuss the rest. I believe innovation could substantially improve health, because predictability will increase and prevention will be more easily achievable. But what will happen to those that are at risk in a purely market-based situation? Do they find an insurer when it’s clear from DNA analysis that they are at risk of any kind? Or will be marginalized by society? And in politics: will the platform trying to influence the political game to prevent antitrust measures be against them or will refrain from doing so? And in the use of AI to enhance productivity, how will the profits created by algorithms be redistributed? On a national basis? On a regional basis? As it happens today? And about media: could the current business model that is totally disrupted be revitalized?”

Gianluca Demartini, senior lecturer in data science, University of Queensland, wrote, “There will be an impact on social and civic innovation, but it will take longer than 10 years to appear. I believe all aspects will improve, but some will improve quicker (e.g., ethical use of algorithms) than others (improved health).”

Gina Glantz, political strategist and founder of GenderAvenger, said, “Digital communication, decision making and technological innovation will have been an everyday experience virtually since birth for emerging leaders. Social innovation that allows technology to create human bonds and community action – begun by dating apps and the emergence of social change organizations such as Indivisible – are bound to grow. Despite all the pitfalls accompanying issues of privacy and detrimental outside interference, the development of tools that create opportunities for the exchange of intergenerational experiences and the exposure and discussion of competing ideas is essential. There is no stopping technology. It must be harnessed for good. 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.”

Glyn Moody, a prolific technology journalist, blogger and speaker based in Europe, said, “Well, it could mitigate the problems, but it is not a given. Things may get so bad that mitigation is quenched. All of these questions treat technology in isolation. What happens with technology depends critically on what happens in politics (although obviously they feed into each other). If the worst happens in politics, it’s unlikely that technology will be able to fix it. If the worst doesn’t happen, technology will play a proportionately greater role in ameliorating society.”

Graham Norris, a business psychologist with expertise in the future of work, said, “I believe technology is well-placed to relieve this kind of problem, as well as create it.”

Greg Shatan, a lawyer with Moses & Singer LLP, wrote, “I see success, enabled by technology, to be likely. I think it will take technology to make technology more useful and more meaningful. Many of us pride ourselves on having a ‘BS-meter,’ where we believe we can tell honestly delivered information from fake news and disinformation. The instinctual BS-meter is not enough. The next version of the BS-meter will need to be technologically based – the tricks of misinformation have far outstripped the ability of people to reliably tell whether they are receiving BS or not – not to mention that it requires a constant state of vigilance that’s exhausting to maintain. I think that the ability and usefulness of the web to enable positive grassroots civic communication will be harnessed, moving beyond mailing lists and fairly static one-way websites. Could there be ‘Slack for Community Self-Governance?’ If not that platform, perhaps something new and aimed specifically at these tasks and needs. I am cautiously optimistic there will be positive strides in the development of social and civic innovation – particularly where infant technologies can mature and become more useful and reliable. However, the baser aspects of human nature will not disappear, and right now, they have the upper hand. Advances in technology often precede advances in the social structures around them. I am hopeful we are entering into a period of ‘catching up’ – one where social responsibility becomes more powerful relative to greed, and social constructs evolve to put the new technologies in their place. Hopeful – but tempered with realism, including the reality that many oppose liberal (in the broad sense), tolerant, thoughtful values, both in the U.S. and around the world.”

Hans J. Scholl, professor, The Information School, University of Washington, commented, “Technology has always been a building block of humankind’s evolution and change. The challenge with the internet (and sitting on top of that, social media, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain, etc.) is that the rate of change is increasing. Within 30 years the internet has helped accelerate ‘globalization’ in a breathtaking fashion. Borders and boundaries have become at least redefined. The economic impacts are felt not only globally, but quite strongly also locally. And, they are felt more quickly, and the changes happen more quickly and more deeply. This presents unprecedented challenges for decision makers in both the private and public sectors. For democratic governments, all three branches have to find smarter and more agile ways to act upon and direct developments into agreed upon directions. Democratic smart governance and democratic smart government are keys to coping with the rapid changes. Among other important elements of smart governance, the compliance with agreed upon ‘principles’ rather than rigid and precise ‘rules’ will be key.”

Heywood Sloan, entrepreneur and banking and securities consultant, said, “I’m hopeful it will be a positive contributor. It has the ability to alter the way we relate to our environment in ways that shrink the distances between people and to help exercise control over our personal and social spaces. We are making substantial progress and 5G technology will accelerate that. On the flip side, we need to find mechanisms and processes to protect our data and ourselves. They need to be strong, economic and simple to deploy and use. That is going to be a challenge. I’m very optimistic about changes to health care. Telemedicine, security and health monitoring along with mobility and logistics are all evolving in ways that create safe, healthy behaviors and independence for the entire population as it ages. I am less sanguine about where and how data security and content integrity will play out. It will likely require a movement from the grassroot up to take control. Given an adequate set of tools, that is quite possible. There will be pressure from governments and large corporations in opposition to that. But change can occur. After all, Quakers stood up against slavery in their Meetings. Gompers and Unions stood up to Robber Barron’s. #MoveOn and #MeToo are standing up today. Add in some trusted tools to organise and people will respond.”

Hume Winzar, associate professor and director of the business analytics undergraduate program at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, said, “With more hope than evidence, I’d like to think that reason will eventually overcome the extraordinary propaganda machines that are being built. When the educated upper-middle classes realise that the ‘system’ is no longer serving them, then legal and institutional changes will be necessary. That is, only when the managers who are driving the propaganda machine(s) start to feel that they, personally, are losing privacy, autonomy, money and their children’s future, then they will need to undermine the efforts of corporate owners and government bureaucrats and officials. Health assessment is likely to get better and better. Preventative medicine will improve in most of the world, especially in the West. To a lesser extent in the USA as private insurance companies seek to control any advancements in medical care. Blockchain technologies have the promise of improved quality of food, fibre and hardware sourcing and distribution.”

Ian Thompson, a self-employed futurist/consultant based in New Zealand, said, “It is human nature to strive to improve life. The public institutions we have relied on to protect us from abuses will need to adapt to (digital) change more rapidly (with assistance from the technology), but they will/must adapt or be replaced by those that will. Those that can adapt to the necessary change in governance from an era of information scarcity to one of information abundance will replace those that cannot make such changes. The protections and improvements will always lag, but they will win through. In this process, individuals will suffer and have to adapt. But that is a necessary part of improving life. Technology cannot change that, but it can both assist and make change difficult.”

Ibon Zugasti, futurist, strategist and director, Prospektiker, wrote, “Social innovation platforms will contribute to faster and better technology development. Social innovation platforms related to employment such as cooperative business initiatives will help reduce inequalities due to replacement of jobs by technology.”

Iona Marinescu, assistant professor of economics, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, an expert in labor policy, wrote, “New tools will likely be created to strengthen the voices of workers and the disadvantaged. These tools’ emergence would be strengthened by regulations that empower people.”

Jaime McCauley, an associate professor of sociology at Coastal Carolina University expert in social movements and social change, wrote, “Despite its shortcomings, social media and technology have proven to be useful in civic engagement from the Arab Spring to neighborhoods organizing on local issues. Human history is one of innovation. We will continue to use whatever tools are available to us for good AND ill. Hopefully, good will win out. I am most optimistic about innovation leading to improvement in physical health because we already invest so much time, energy, money and tech into health care. I am least optimistic about worker protections. We have been on a trajectory of weakening workers’ rights and protections for decades now. Most young people don’t remember a ‘social contract’ in place where companies provided stable wages and strong benefits for workers. We encourage individualistic and competitive thinking that inhibits large scale labor organizing that led to positive social change in the past. At the end of the day, tech is used in a way that reflects cultural attitudes. Could workers use tech to innovate and organize for stronger workplace protections? Absolutely. But in an overall cultural climate that encourages ‘every man for himself’ thinking and belittles collective action, maybe not. Though, movements like Occupy Wall Street show this type of organizing is possible – and aided by tech – and may make a difference if sustained.”

James Gannon, a cybersecurity and internet governance expert based in Europe, said, “In 2030 the journey will still be ongoing, as defined in the Tunis Agreement laws apply online as well as offline. However, this is an untenable position for governments to take in the modern era, where the internet is borderless (I do not believe there will be a Balkanisation of the internet or fragmentation of it). NGOs and civil society have yet to come up with a common position to move forward on these strategic level topics. I think that progress on tactical issues will drive society to more common positions and thus over the next decade progress will be made. Hard to write out a coherent response to all the questions, happy to discuss in a longer format response.”

James Hochschwender, futurist and consultant, Expansion Consulting, said, “Some success in social and civic innovation will be achieved by 2030, but that success will require legislation and enforcement thereof to protect citizens’ rights over transparent data sharing with full rights to opt out of the same, as is being done in Europe already to a much greater degree than in the U.S. Also, it will require two other things in order to be positive innovation. One, the elimination of digital monopoly and oligarchies through application of effective antitrust legislation. Two, it will require a massive effort to educate inclusively the entire population to informed positive and negative uses of the internet and 5G technologies and corresponding digital tools. And finally, social and civic innovation will require substantial reduction of corporate and deep pockets lobbying that has excessive influence of legislative branches of government. The concept of lifelong education will have become the norm by 2030 for all but the most indigent portions of the population. The development of applications for the realization of that concept will key the acceleration of the educational process, which will, in turn, make possible improvements in health, reduction of the negative impacts of technological change on the workforce. But, if corporate monopolies and biased algorithms are not better managed soon, then what we will have by 2030 will be a massively misinformed, confused and less powerful populace, which will be inclined to exacerbate the already overly partisan political landscape, which will lead to increasing political and social unrest throughout the world, which will threaten economic stability and social safety.”

Jamie Grady, a business leader, wrote, “A double-edged question. As technology companies become more scrutinized by the media and government, changes, particularly in privacy rights will change. People will learn of these changes through social media as they do now.”

Janet Salmons, independent consultant, scholar, researcher and owner of Vision2Lead, wrote, “I hope that the more that people come to rely on technology, the more they will see the need for parameters and improved practices. These could include social norms as well as policies and regulations. I also hope that the more that people understand what technology can and can’t do, they will make decisions about its place in their lives. For example, electronic communication is valuable when we’re apart, but does not replace the human touch, or the nonverbal communications needed at significant life moments. Will social norms move away from the practice of staring at a screen to read a post from someone, somewhere, while ignoring the actual person whose eyes might convey a more meaningful message? Electronic voting might seem like a cool idea until we see how unregulated use of these tools allows for vulnerabilities that make our votes meaningless. Will people insist on mechanisms that make democracy more viable, or let big corporations, special interests, anarchists or foreign entities decide who runs the country? Will people insist on some right to protection of private data, or let companies buy and sell every digital footprint? I hope for social and civic innovations that celebrate and balance the best of both worlds, technologic and human. Education, health care and the workplace benefit from flexibility and access to information offered by information and communication technologies but are inadequate without human interaction. Access to unlimited information is only helpful when we have the ability to make meaning. Again, I feel that attention to digital literacy is critical to innovations that will be positive for social and civic life in democracies. Positive change will only happen if users, consumers, buyers and voters insist on it. If they have the digital literacy needed to discern positive change from new bells and whistles that do nothing to solve the problems discussed in this survey. I am hopeful but not entirely optimistic that they will. Will members-only, perhaps subscription-based online communities re-emerge instead of post-and-we’ll-sell-your-data forms of social media? I hope so, but at this point a giant investment would be needed to counter the mega-billions of companies like Facebook! I think we’d benefit from cooperative, nonprofit, or NGO leadership in this sphere.”

Jason Hong, professor, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University, said, “Society is going through the early stages of massive change that will be at the same scale as the changes seen as a result of the industrial revolution. As such, there will be both significant winners and losers as society is slowly restructured to match the demands of the new social, political and economic landscape. For example, we’re starting to see glimpses of the future of work. We have people who are streaming what they do as they work, whether that is gaming, programming, creating art, cooking, eating (there’s even whole channels on Twitch.TV on this) and more. While I also have qualms with the whole gig economy, it has also created new kinds of short-term, on-demand jobs in the form of Uber and Lyft, Fiverr, Postmates, Mechanical Turk, UpWork, TaskRabbit and more. Technology can also dramatically lower coordination costs. As one example, in the future there might not be a need for stop signs, since autonomous vehicles would know to slow down in neighborhoods and could smoothly negotiate with other vehicles and pedestrians to go thru intersections. While I confess that my crystal ball doesn’t have a clear answer, there are definitely many kinds of coordination costs that we face every day that technology could help with. Some examples include polling for what kinds of retail stores are needed in a neighborhood, routing food that would have been thrown away to people who need it, routing people to help to people who need help (see Pittsburgh Snow Angels) and more. Health care is an area that will likely see many innovations. There are already multiple research prototypes underway looking at monitoring of one’s physical and mental health. Some of my colleagues (and myself as well) are also looking at social behaviors, and how those behaviors not only impact one’s health but also how innovations spread through one’s social network. I’m highly optimistic on this front, given that the problems are clearly there, the sensing technology is feasible, and the interventions should work (based on what has been done in the past using less sophisticated interventions or based on existing theory).”

Jean Russell, co-director, Commons Engine, focused on building tools and capacity for a commons-based economy, wrote, “I hope regulation becomes a last resort, but yes, I do think we will continue forming coalitions/unions/cooperatives for human dignity for our digital world. I also believe we are growing the awareness and tools to better assert rights for privacy, dignity and freedom. It is much easier to see how the ‘gig’ economy can be modified and adapted into something safer and more resilient. It is more challenging to see how that will impact people’s physical health. Mental health seems quite tricky, almost as if the better the world gets, the more room we have to process the trauma that came before. I suspect mental health will seem worse before it seems better.”

Jeremy Foote, computational social scientist and professor, Northwestern University, wrote, “So far, institutions of many different kinds have been fairly responsive and creative in dealing with troubling aspects of technology. Examples include journalists who have brought attention to National Security Agency abuses to institutional responses by Facebook and Twitter seeking to identify and reduce the influence of disinformation campaigns. Our current responses are often blunt, like the General Data Protection Regulation, and have unintended consequences, but they are a signal of institutions that are willing and able to respond. Platforms and communities have also shown a surprising ability to police themselves. Tools (including automated tools) to moderate conversations are getting better and allowing for the reduction of some of the worst problems. I would not be surprised to see the emergence of public institutions that are more technologically-savvy, and which do things like identifying bias in algorithms or enforcing technological transparency. Aspects of technology that have more social implications, such as privacy and disinformation, will receive more attention from existing institutions and are more likely to see innovation that is helpful. Technological aspects with more personal implications, such as tech addiction, will be more difficult to make progress on.”

Jeremy Malcolm, director, Prostasia Foundation, wrote, “Except in the case of revolution, current political structures are not amenable to the kind of disruptive innovation that characterizes the tech industry. It is difficult to envisage the U.S. or other major democracies embracing sweeping social and civic innovation in such a short timeframe. Innovations adopted by governments can affect the way government communicates and how government services operate. But larger innovations (e.g., blockchain-based currencies, liquid democracy experiments) have longer-term and subtler effects on government. The only question for which I expressed more than a 50% likelihood of positive change was the question about the development of online platforms for expression. Since this type of innovation aligns with the business model of the online platforms, continued improvement is most likely to be seen in this area.”

John Leslie King, professor of information, University of Michigan, wrote, “People know how to leverage communication technologies. Not surprisingly, they leverage them for their own ends. There will be surprises and what appear to be setbacks, but the net effect over time will be lots of experimentation that will affect things on the margin. The main areas where I don’t think much will happen involve work. I do not think technology will change work that much at the center, but it is already changing work at the margins.”

John Paschoud, elected politician of the Lewisham Council (a London borough), wrote, “Much political and social/community discussion of and decisions on issues are inherently based on physical geography, and often highly localised. Therefore, it’s to be hoped that new online (or technology-enabled) media for resolving issues must recognise geography, and effectively parallel traditional means (such as local assembly meetings, of areas representing about 10,000 voting citizens). It will not help for a resident of California to influence public transport policy in London (although the Californian may have good ideas for London, which it is useful to share). Similarly, online identities of those participating should be transparent and linked to real world people. When decision-making is widened (beyond just elected representatives), then all those participating need to be accountable – as they would expect elected representatives to be. This scoring system is not appropriate for all these questions. For example, I responded with a high rating for change to economic stability of media, by which I meant there would be a negative change/impact (not ‘no change’). I do not think that widened participation in decision making will increase understanding of the technologies – particularly of algorithms managing such media or managing public services. That will only be improved by widespread better education in computing, from the earliest stages.”

Jonathan Kolber, author, “A Celebration Society: Solving the Coming Automation Crisis,” said,””Actually, technology will in some ways facilitate social and civic innovation, and in some ways impair it. It will facilitate by creating platforms for people to engage with each other in focused and efficient ways, for which today’s niche websites and social media platforms are only the beginning. (Full immersion, multisensory virtual reality, for which we see the beginnings in Dreamscape, will enable whole new ways of living and engaging.) The impairment will come when governments and other powerful interests are able to continuously scan all internet traffic, probably assisted by artificial intelligence, for anything deemed ‘subversive.’ Whomever holds those levers of power will have unprecedented ability to nip change in the bud. This is one reason we need new kinds of model societies, in which no such centralized control is possible. I am quite surprised to see a survey from Pew with multiple questions so badly designed. The badly designed questions allowed only answers from 0 (no change) to 10 (massive positive change). But what if one expects negative change, or mixed change? There was no room for this. I hope you have the integrity to reissue this survey with these problems corrected. Otherwise, your results will be skewed.”

Joshua Hatch, a journalist who covers technology issues, said, “Technology use will be a significant driver to civic and civil innovation out of necessity; it will be the pressure that will force it to happen. How effective such innovation will be, though, is harder to answer. I suspect it will be a game of whack-a-mole where every ‘innovation’ simply seeks to remedy a problem that has surfaced. So, what might happen? I can see more technology education in the classroom; I can envision civic groups that look to aid people with limited capability or access; I can see new laws around accessibility. One area that I think will be difficult to address, though, thanks in part to the First Amendment, is disinformation. And this worries me, because I think it has the potential to be incredibly destructive and we are limited in how we can mitigate the problem. Broadly speaking, I don’t expect any social and civic innovation to fundamentally change power structures or business relationships (i.e., the power of large companies or the success of journalistic enterprises) simply because I don’t think those are things that social and civic innovations have the power to change – at least not any innovations that I can imagine actually being brought to life. But, where I think real change is more likely are those areas where collective action can make a difference (i.e., pushing back against biased algorithms, or generating political power).”

Joshua New, senior policy analyst, Center for Data Innovation, ITIF, focusing on methods of promoting emerging technologies as a means of improving the economy and quality of life, said, “Connected and data-driven technologies can dramatically reduce barriers to social and civic innovation, such as challenges related to accessing human capital, network building, fundraising and advocacy. One particularly likely result of this will be the creation of significantly more decentralized social and civic innovations. Whereas the social and civic innovations of the past have relied on local communities, technology can allow for the connection of people with similar needs across local, state and even national boundaries. Innovations designed to facilitate the sharing of health data, and changing social norms around the use of personal data, will have a significant and overwhelmingly positive impact on public health.”

Juan Ortiz Freuler, policy fellow, Web Foundation, wrote, “Many innovations will take place with the purpose of easing some of the social tensions and increasing surveillance to neutralize the rest. Enacting big social changes will become increasingly difficult. Unless action is taken within the next decade, power and wealth will increasingly concentrate in the hands of the few, and citizens will lose capacity to coordinate in favor of systemic changes. We should expect many superficial changes that change the perception we have of technology, government and private sector. Techlash as such will be overcome, and yet, unless action is taken in the next decade, the systemic underlying problems will only get more entrenched and acute.”

June Parris, medical professional and member of the Internet Society chapter in Barbados, wrote, “For those who have access to technology, their access to social and civic innovation will increase. They will see ways that this can benefit them. These will include marketing; I see an influx of this, use of social media for financial purposes. Not all are looking to improve financially; social groups and charities are also using innovative tools. I personally see new groups emerging daily and ease of access to join these groups. Several tools are in use and more are being created. I see that this will improve and spread widely in the future. Social and innovative media is spreading but can become a global problem in mental health. I personally see it as a positive as I control my time on social media. I switch my phone and computer off and take a break. What I see around me daily is that some of us have and are becoming addicted. When you look around and observe people are walking around with their heads bowed looking at phones, there is no conversation; they are not looking at the views. Driving with phones glued to their ears. Are these people using technology for their benefit? Sometimes not; it is negative use. Chats, movies and messaging. If we would use this technology in a positive way, then everyone should benefit.”

Karen Yesinkus, a creative services professional, said, “Tech will contribute to innovation but it will remain to be seen if it will be good or bad innovation…the next 10 years are uncharted territory. Physical and mental health will be improved with innovation, but other areas remain questionable due to existing national mood and polarizations.”

Kathee Brewer, director of content, CANN Media Group, wrote, “Much like society developed solutions to the challenges brought about by the Industrial Revolution, society will find solutions to the challenges of the Digital Revolution. Whether that will happen by 2030 is up for debate. Change occurs much more rapidly in the digital age than it did at the turn of the 20th century, and for society to solve its problems it must catch up to them first. AND people, including self-interested politicians, must be willing to change. Groups like the Mozilla Foundation already are working on solutions to invasions of privacy. That work will continue. The U.S. government probably won’t make any major changes to the digital election framework until after the 2020 election, but changes will be made. Sadly, those changes probably will result from some nastiness that develops due to voters of all persuasions being unwilling to accept electoral results, whatever the results may be.”

Kenneth Cukier, senior editor, The Economist, and coauthor of “Big Data,” commented, “What the open-source software movement did for business it will do for politics. Already, groups of pioneering software coders are getting together and developing tools that enable the public to weigh on in politics – it even has a name, ‘civic-tech.’ A new generation of citizen simply expects politics to be as efficient as Uber and Netflix – and if it isn’t, they’re working to change that.”

Kenneth R. Fleischmann, associate professor, School of Information, University of Texas-Austin, wrote, “We will have to find ways to regulate social media use; they will need to build trade associations to self-regulate, or else governments will need to step in. Individuals may not need to respect laws and boundaries, but companies do need to be based somewhere, and if they do not comply, countries can block them. Given the complex and contentious nature of ‘truth,’ however, it will be easy to portray regulation as biased censorship; thus, provenance will be key, and the key thing will not be to determine the ‘truth’ of content, but instead the authentic identities of those who post the content. I am confident that new platforms will evolve that may better handle provenance. How popular these platforms will be is hard to estimate. I think, just as traditional media (radio, TV, print) is highly polarized, social media will become increasingly polarized; perhaps not just people with shared beliefs forming distinct friend and follower networks within the same SNS[AB3] , but instead the emergence of specific politically polarized SNS, further increasing the encroachment of politics in our everyday lives. I am pessimistic about the degree to which privacy and worker autonomy will be respected. We are headed toward an increasingly panoptic society, as represented by the Chinese government’s emerging social credit scale.”

Kenneth Sherrill, professor emeritus of political science, Hunter College, said, “I’m optimistic on this one – but it may take a very long time for good to overcome evil.”

Kevin Carson, an independent scholar on issues of post-capitalist and post-state transition, wrote, “Once we experience a leftward demographic tipping point I think we’ll be well underway into a decades-long post-capitalist and post-carbon transition. Relatively near-term reforms might include Universal Basic Income, Modern Monetary Theory and rollback the kind of maximalist ‘intellectual property’ legislation that is at the core of most economic rent extraction by corporations. I also expect the proliferating municipalist experiments in Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, Preston, Jackson, etc., and the commons-based local economic models they are developing (land trusts, stakeholder cooperative utilities and services, etc.) to be the most significant seeds that the successor society will grow from. Governments will become more platform-like on the Partner State model. There are policies like Universal Basic Income, Modern Monetary Theory and the commons-based economic models being developed in the various municipalist movements. In the area of the internet and social media itself, the reform we’re headed toward is not so much the 20th century industrial age antitrust model of breaking up ‘Death Star’ corporate platforms, so much as forced opening of protocols and elimination of intellectual property barriers to interoperability and piggybacking on legacy platforms and importing contact lists without permission. We’ll be transforming Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, et al, into Mastodon-like ecosystems to host our own self-governed instances, and Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg can howl in impotent rage. I also think the internet will facilitate networked radical labor organization focused on direct action, disrupting nodes in the corporate supply and distro chain and hitting vulnerabilities in JIT distro models, etc.”

Kirk Munsell, a web developer/producer for U.S. science and technology projects, wrote, “As third and fourth generations grow up with the mature internet, with ingrained understanding of social media platforms, the fragmented nature of humans’ perspectives will re-establish the need to come together on ‘big ideas’ and perspectives that we agree to share with one another.”

Knut Erik Solem, professor of environment, technology and social change, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said, “My analytical work and attitude to science lead me to conclude that there is good hope for worthwhile progress and development ahead.”

Larry Keeley, co-founder, Doblin, and professor of innovation at Kellogg Graduate School of Management, said, “Technology will, of course, both foster AND hinder social innovation. Simply put, it has taken us a long time to see the adverse effects of VAST power concentrated behind the firewalls of tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and others. Europe spotted it first and dealt with it sooner. But even the talent within those firms is increasingly troubled by their impact – sometimes via unintended consequences and other times when they realize that the intended effects are not at all noble either. So we begin an exciting new chapter now, where a growing number of switched-on, socially conscious engineers will be building antidotes to these powerful and pervasive tools. BUT, the huge tech platforms are so much larger and move at such a vastly faster clock-speed than governments or start-ups that we should expect the negative effects to outnumber the positive ones for a long time to come. Your questions are poorly worded. As a result, virtually ALL of my selections ended up in the middle range (though I tried to avoid selecting 5s in each case). The more precise answer, EACH TIME would have been to choose something on the far left of your scale and something on the far right of your scale, depending on users and usage. By forcing me to choose just one NET rating for trends that will necessarily have dramatic impact both in favor of change and serving powerful, entrenched current interests, I gave you answers that are always wrong, because the AVERAGE impact will mathematically lie between two extreme poles. Of course, it will be the innovations on those extreme poles that tell the real story.”

Larry Rosen, a professor emeritus of psychology at California State University-Dominguez Hills known as an international expert on the psychology of technology, wrote, “I would like to believe that we, as citizens, will aid in innovation. Smart people are already working on many social issues but the problem is that while society is slow to move, tech moves at lightning speed. I worry that solutions will come after the tech has either been integrated or rejected. As a research psychologist, I have watched the business model involve the employment of behavioral scientists to drag our attention to their website, app or idea. There are so many examples of this that it is sad and upsetting. Companies have a responsibility to leave our ‘attention’ to free will rather than psychological tricks such as Snapchat streaks or prizes in games. We live in an attention economy and now this is overflowing with misuse of psychology to drag and keep our attention.”

Leila Bighash, assistant professor of communication, University of Arizona, expert in online public information, news and social media, said, “While I believe technology will be used by democratic adversaries to subvert institutions and processes, technology will also continue to be used to try to mitigate those efforts. There are issues with big tech companies not having incentives to pursue pro-democracy projects. Unfortunately, many of them, with their advocacy of completely free/open speech, have created a situation where all speech is given a platform and sometimes the messages that spread are harmful. Nonprofits and others do not have the means that those big tech companies have, so citizens and governments have to start pressuring or incentivizing large companies to engage in activities that will bolster democracy. If this pressure works, then social and civic innovation at a mass scale will occur. If the pressure doesn’t work, there will still be some smaller groups pursuing this innovation, but it will not occur as quickly. We already see some efforts to build tools that mark sources of news on social media with indicators of their veracity. Volunteer groups that are highly engaged and motivated could be created/used to suss out mis/disinformation. Companies themselves could be incentivized by governments or citizen groups to remove messages including deepfakes and other disinformation. Communication researchers are learning how fact checking works to correct people’s misinformed views, and this research could help create new systems, tools and groups. Governments will have to start creating new laws, but of course this will likely be the slowest to move. I do not think it will be easy to ‘modulate’ the power of big tech companies. I believe big policy changes will have to come first, but big tech lobbying power is dominant so policy change will be difficult. It will have to come to an event horizon where big tech, governments and citizens must work together to survive. I’m not sure if this will occur by 2030, but I believe it will occur sometime in the next 30 years.”

Leslie Daigle, longtime IETF leader, principal, Thinking Cat Enterprises, responded, “I believe (hope) that technology use will drive us to the point of understanding we need to improve our social norms, and provide protections for behaviour. I do not think that these innovations will be implemented through technology. These aren’t technology problems; they are social ones. There will be social and civic innovation to improve the perceived well-being of citizens. I don’t expect there to be major changes within major institutions or companies. (And, my response is primarily looking at the U.S., as opposed to Europe, which has different priorities and goals).”

Loren DeJonge Schulman, deputy director of studies and senior fellow, Center for a New American Security, previously senior adviser to U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, said, “As technology companies grow in size, we should expect to see social movements WITHIN companies have increasing effect (e.g., the anti-war/anti-military backlash against Project Maven), not only within companies themselves but externally. This path is fraught with potential upsides and downsides, but the political norms and values of tech workers will begin to have as much sway as, for example, Texas textbooks do in shaping American society. Privacy norms are the potential ‘positive’ change I see least likely to come to fruition, because there is such a substantial divide in belief and practice – and not just generationally. Mental health seems like an area ripe for real improvement. Digital technologies have both enabled treatment but also encouraged an openness about challenges and opportunities that did not exist before.”

Avery Holton, associate professor and vice-president’s clinical and translational scholar, University of Utah, commented, “We will see the continued evolution of laws put in place to safeguard the public with regards to social media. The Communications Decency Act, and perhaps more specifically Section 230, will continue to receive attention and more people will call on restrictions and laws, not just ethics or morals, to guide what is acceptable practice in public-facing social media and digital media platforms. We will see the rise of bio-metrics for technology access that moves beyond thumbprints, facial recognition, and other forms of single- and dual-authentication. With technology now available to fully scan and identify individuals based on thumbprints, handprints, facial patterns, and voice patterns, we will see these morphed into the personalization of tech. These same technologies are on the verge of being able to decipher particular moods, to match those with lifestyle patterns, and to connect them with the ways in which products and content are delivered. So, it isn’t quite a stretch to imagine a mobile device that relies on biometrics (and secondarily, mood or other life patterns) to deliver particular forms of news and information. This same technology is likely to be able to use biometric cues to change those delivery patterns by the second, sensing when an individual moves from happy to sad or calm to anxious. We can imagine such recognitions occurring without the need for a user to touch the technology but rather by a user, or users, entering a space such as a living room or a vehicle or a hotel. We have gone from newspapers delivered to doorsteps to algorithmically-tailored news deliver through apps.  Meshing of biometric technology, algorithmic data, and artificial intelligence designed to recognize and respond to patterns may be able to recognize what kind of content we will be most responsive to before we ever touch a device, and perhaps before we even wakeup.”

Louis Gross, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and mathematics, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, said, “I expect there to be a variety of tools developed to enhance both individual data privacy as well as broader-scale group privacy. As in the current internet marketplace some of these will be free, and perhaps sponsored by various governments, and others will be commercial with different capabilities from the ‘free’ ones. Together with new communication modes I expect a reinvigorating of organizations that figure out how to effectively utilize these new tools, and as there has been over the past decades, a resurgence of methods beyond the former highly gendered and non-diverse civic, social and cultural organizations that dominated many of the world’s societies over the past century. As one example, consider tools such as qube.cc, which allows virtual avatars to interact for virtual meetings in ways that expand the standard video conferencing methods now available. Though it is not there yet, I expect there will be a Metaverse (a la that in Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash’) that arises from projects like this that encourage broader global civic engagement. New tech tools will foster the positive answers I gave to this set of questions. Areas I see as more fraught with uncertainty about the future are those associated with historical media and their role in fostering effective knowledge transmission. I expect there will be a further conglomeration of such media firms with attendant constraints on their viability due to finances. As a counterpoint to this I see a continued expansion of individual voices expressing diverse viewpoints with something akin to ‘intelligent aggregators’ to bring these disparate voices together in certain contexts. Another area of uncertainty concerns political institutions, which have been lethargic in responding to the challenges of technology and I do not see changing on the time scale that societal changes will be occurring.”

Louisa Heinrich, a futurist and consultant expert in data and the Internet of Things, wrote, “There is a gap between the rate at which technology develops and the rate at which society develops. We need to take care not to fall into that gap. I hope we will see a shift in governance toward framework-based regulation, which will help mitigate the gap between the pace of change in technology and that in government. At the very least, we need to understand the ways in which technology can extend or undermine the rules and guidelines we set for our businesses, workplaces, public spaces and interactions. To name just one common example, recruitment professionals routinely turn to Facebook as a source of information on prospective employees. This arguably violates a number of regulations designed to protect people from being denied work based on personal details not relevant to that work – how do we unravel this conundrum, bearing in mind that there will always be another social network, another digital source to mine for information about people? Taken from another angle, there is a significant gap between what users understand about certain bits of technology and the risks they take using them. How can we educate people about these risks in a way that encourages participation and co-creation, rather than passivity? As the so-called Gen Z comes of age, we will see a whole generation of young adults who are politically engaged at a level not seen in several generations, who are also native users of technology tools. This could bring about a positive revolution in the way technology is used to facilitate civic engagement and mutually empower and assist citizens and government. Technology provides us with powerful tools that can help us advance socially and civically, but these tools need to be thoughtfully and carefully put to use – when we encode barriers and biases into the applications that people need to use in daily life, whether intentionally or no, we may exclude whole segments of society from experiencing positive outcomes. We are living through a time of rapid and radical change – as always, the early stages feel uncomfortable and chaotic. But we can already see the same tools that have been used to mislead citizens being used to educate, organise, motivate and empower them. What’s needed is a collective desire to prioritise and incentivise this. New Zealand is leading the way with the world’s first ‘well-being’ budget. The history of the internet seems to indicate that where there is a majority of users who understand the technology they are engaging with and are motivated altruistically, peaceful, supportive and healthy communities can be built. The population of the internet has grown exponentially since the early days of slashdot, but civic responsibility in the digital world is both possible and effective. It is symbiotic with a sense of civic responsibility in the real world and the satisfaction that engenders. None of this will happen unless the people who believe in their causes and neighbourhoods – online and offline – come together and activate.”

Marcus Foth, professor of urban informatics, Queensland University of Technology, said, “People usually do not put up with societal issues and challenges and in turn seek to address such challenges. There is emerging evidence that the planetary health, climate emergency and societal challenges we are facing today are contributing to the rise of social and civic innovation already. Examples I am thinking of include: A labour union for tech workers in Silicon Valley type of platform companies: https://techworkerscoalition.org; Blockchain technology for good: https://www.blockchainforgood.com; Digital literacy and information/data viz for advocacy: https://tacticaltech.org/; Privacy-by-design and autonomy-by-design policy responses to tech and data ethics challenges. We are already working on some of these issues, and I’m aware of many colleagues also focusing on these issues. The alternative is not viable, that is, to give up and do nothing. So many colleagues – while depressed and very concerned – are using their expertise and abilities to bring about social and civic innovation. Examples: DataCare project at QUT http://datacare.urbaninformatics.net/; Physical exercise and digital technology research at RMIT: https://exertiongameslab.org/”

Marilyn Cade, principal, mCADE, LLC, wrote, “I would have preferred to say: it depends. We can harness technology for social and civic innovation but we can’t ask the social media mega corporations to own this or the internet service providers or the media corporations. Instead, we as a society, and one that can lead the world, need to consider how we create the opportunities for social and civic innovation, but that is not enough. We need to change affordable access/digital literacy for not only youth but for seniors, and we need to reach all parts of our country and advance how technology can help to create jobs – whether in the NGO or business sectors. The more people have meaningful work, the more they are then interested in social and civic changes – and the more they want to have their voice heard. This includes contributions from the USF, from the Federal Communications Commission and possible redirections to create enhancements in how citizens in rural parts of the U.S. have better access and encouragement to more neutral platforms for information. The platforms are of course very important. But not the answer. Use of technology and innovation are more than supplier responsibilities. As much as suppliers can, of course, develop useful and targeted and relevant approaches. This seems to me to be a more societal call to action. Sort of a National Information Infrastructure version. 5.0.”

Marius Oosthuizen, board member, Association of Professional Futurists, Johannesburg, South Africa, wrote, “Technology is value neutral. However, in the adoption or implementation of technology, enormous value-assumptions and value judgements are made. These are then entrenched and systematised, institutionalised and embedded in social norms over time. Technology will be curtailed, rolled back and counteracted with innovations that society finds unbearable or undesirable. This will take the form of peer-to-peer review systems, accountability and transparency systems, and the development of ‘ethical algorithms’ that seek to systematise societal values and norms, appropriate to particular communities. There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather enclaves of evolutionary and counter-evolutionary technology adaptation and adoption toward more socially desirable ends. The question of social and civic innovation will not be monolithic in its nature – on the contrary, it will be fractured into a kaleidoscope of contending and contradictory outcomes. As such, ‘trust in institutions’ will be replaced as a notion with ‘trust in platforms,’ where multiple formal and informal institutions coalesce. Similarly, harmful expressions of digital and tech-enabled social action will create new forms of disruption, abuse and anti-social behaviour. Overall though, a future generation of digital natives will see the domain as promising yet unsafe, and seek out enclaves where their needs are met and harm is reduced. Governments and civic agents will likely take a portfolio approach to issues management, supporting grassroots initiatives with positive outcomes, rather than leading the innovation process.”

Mark Jamison, a professor at the University of Florida and visiting scholar at American Enterprise Institute, previously manager of regulatory policy at Sprint, wrote, “I believe the premise that institutional change during the Industrial Revolution resulted from harm and abuse is false. For example, children worked in agricultural societies for centuries before the Industrial Revolution. So, the reaction of child labor laws wasn’t about children being abused by having to work. It appears to me that many of the institutional changes were motivated by fear of particular kinds of change and from biases for the well-known and for protection by authority figures. Certainly, any change creates opportunities for bad actors to take advantage of persons who find themselves in unfamiliar circumstances, but there are also many good actors that use the change to do more for others. I believe this pattern is at work today, just as it has in the past. The questions contain an unstated premise that social action is needed to address shifting consumer preferences. I think this is false. It appears to me that many social actions are likely to restrict consumers’ abilities to choose, resulting in fewer benefits to them. As has happened before, as technologies and the businesses using them evolve, consumers will learn and adapt. Mistakes will be made, but this is the nature of uncertain futures.”

Mark Maben, a general manager at Seton Hall University, wrote, “In terms of social and civic innovation, in 2030 the transformation will be in progress but not complete. Just as it took many decades to fully respond to the disruption, exploitation and damage that the Industrial Revolution brought to societies across the globe, it will take time to address the effects of ‘techlash.’ Over the next 10 years, social technologies will be developed to better combat sexism and racism in the workplace and civic sphere. APPs[AB4]  will be created to facilitate more civic engagement on the local and state level. Laws and regulations will be enacted to better protect data privacy. The civic and social innovations that occur between now and 2030 will be modest compared to what will likely follow after 2030. The New Deal couldn’t have happened without the groundwork laid in the decades before it by civic activists, labor organizers and social reformers. The work of the next decade is taking the small steps that set the stage for massive transformation that will reshape traditional Western-style liberal democracy and market capitalism into something more responsive to the needs of the general population. If you are privileged enough to be in regular conversation with Americans between the ages of 16 and 30, you can sense that these young people are already working on how to use technology for positive social change outside of the current existing political and economic structure. Their desire for a fairer democracy is inspiring. I expect to see innovations that give the common American a greater ability to influence many of the institutions that impact daily life. Technology will make governments and corporations more responsive to the people, even if it is just the result of politicians and executives acting out of self-interest. What is less likely to occur are innovations that lessen the negative impact social media has on individuals. Evolution has left humans poorly prepared to manage the psychological toll of social media and innovation here will move more slowly.”

Marshall Ganz, senior lecturer in public policy, Harvard University, said, “The options in this question are constructed very problematically. Innovation and improvement are not the same things. Many ‘innovations’ have done far more social damage – in the short run and in the long run – because of the weakness in our moral and political capacity to turn these innovations to constructive social purpose. So of course there will be innovation. Whether it turns out to be positive or negative depends in large part on who holds the power to make choices about its use and how wise those choices are. We have to look at the power question in order to evaluate possibilities.”

Mary Alice McCarthy, senior policy analyst, Higher Education Initiative, New America, said, “My preferred answer would have been ‘I hope so, but it depends.’ What it depends on is the creation of a bipartisan consensus among leaders from both parties – as well leaders from the business community, labor and other civil society groups – that protecting citizens from misinformation, surveillance, invasions of privacy, etc., are essential for maintaining our democracy and more important than either winning the next election or maximizing short-term gains/profits.”

Mary Griffiths, associate professor at the University of Adelaide, Australia, an expert in digital citizenship and e-government, said, “Technology has already significantly altered industrial workplaces through smart automation, and led to the inevitable transformation of workforces. For example, physical strength or close human oversight may no longer be necessary for certain industrial processes. That potentially broadens workforce participation, and also flags the need for higher skills development in future workforces. Digital transformation can be as generative of new workforces as it is destructive of the older forms of industrialisation. The challenge is not to exploit, and mindlessly discard things of value to participants. Consider these examples: a) Former taxi-firm ‘employees’ become car hire ‘contractors’ to a technology platform. What is the further innovation required? Regulatory legislation to protect against any loss of previous rights. b) Health records move online with access to third party agencies, solely with the object of wholistic health care. What is the further innovation required? Digital stewardship and policing legislation. c) A government wants to develop an area. Innovate by seeing the physical landscape through and with the shared digital infrastructure. Journalists are experimenting with new business models to support public interest journalism. I’m fairly optimistic that – given the urge to know and tell the story on government – some innovations will be successful. In terms of digital government innovation and also the government of digital disruption, I also see some possibility of successes. Neither will be a linear journey, and it will play out differently in specific democratic contexts and industries, but it is guaranteed to be one defined by small and large struggles over competing rights. In terms of manipulation and privacy invasions from technology platforms and third parties: a robust international bipartisan onslaught by governments could staunch the loss of autonomy over one’s own data. It will never be fully returned. Mass desertion of social media by a membership more attuned to what is happening to their data, and who is influencing the stories they read or are excluded from reading?”

Mat Larsen, CEO, Vistabeam, said, “I am hopeful that technology can help some groups find more common ground. It will be a difficult challenge to overcome many of the potential negative issues, but there is a lot of potential process improvement for social and civic groups that utilize technology.”

Matt Belge, principle designer at Sophos and founder of Vision & Logic design, commented, “Digital tools such as Facebook, email, websites and sharing sites are easy for the average person to access and use to organize others. They are much easier to use and access than previous generation tools such as printing presses and television stations. For this reason, I expect that small groups with limited funds will have better access to organizing themselves than in previous generations. The downside is that these same tools can be manipulated by wealthy corporations and individuals as well as governments. We’ve already seen examples of that in the 2016 USA elections, when foreign, well-funded trolls attempted, and to some extent succeeded, in manipulating points of view. However, on the whole, I think the masses have now more access to tools that help them organize and get their ideas out than they have ever had in the past. I am cautiously optimistic about the future of democracy, although it is being severely tested at the time when I write these words.”

Matt Colborn, a freelance writer and futurist based in Europe, said, “Technology will BOTH contribute and prevent social and civic innovation. The main issue is that I think constant tech use is addling people’s brains, destroying attention spans and preventing critical thought. I’ve seen a number of instances where critical thought seems to drop to zero on the internet. One problem is that in virtual space, reality falls away, and only opinion is real. The potential for civic innovation is significant, but only if tech is seen as a facilitator and not the be all and end all. Actually, the main innovations shouldn’t be in technology (we’re awash with those) but in the social, economic and political spheres. Brian Martin has suggested a social experiment, with comparable funding to technology, where new political, social arrangements are tested small scale and scaled up. New tech could help facilitate this in an ancillary role. I think the main issue is challenging the assumption that all our problems can be solved by more visionary tech and to look for social, political and economic innovation in their own spheres. One this is done, it will be more obvious where tech innovation will help, not the other way round. I’m optimistic for social, political and economic innovation potentially to radically improve these problems BUT, one, I think the chances of doing so are currently not fantastic because of the sheer power and ruthlessness of the global 1% – who include the Silicon Valley zillionaires producing the tech – and, two, because these questions totally ignore the looming environmental catastrophe that could destroy everything. These factors place a time-limit on the window for success and limits the probability of it occurring.”

Matt Moore, innovation manager, Disruptor’s Handbook, Sydney, Australia, said, “Technologies will help and hinder social and civic innovation. They will drive people apart. They will bring people together. Based on our track record, these outcomes are inevitable. Their scale and scope are still largely unknown. The first 20 years of the world wide web (from say 1990 to 2010) gave many hints of new communities, new social possibilities. To me, these feel like they have been lost – or at least obscured. The web feels like a far more corporate space, controlled by a small number of large companies (Facebook, Google, Amazon) whose main business model is surveillance capitalism. Our cities will be ever more filled with sensors producing data that will feed into artificial intelligence systems. In theory, this will make cities more efficient. In practice, it may make them more chaotic – as large volumes of partial, biased data give us the illusion of omniscience. If data truly is the ‘new oil’ then that presumably means we will fight wars over it and its side effects will be toxic and expensive. On the plus side, as demographics change, technology can help us form the new communities (of age, identity, interdependence) that we will need in the next decade. Humans are still going to be human. There will be opportunities to improve the quality of human life – especially in the domain of health and the management of chronic diseases. I see most opportunity for improvement in domains that are not dependent on ‘improving’ human behaviour. Hopefully we are not going to go backwards but we seem unlikely to improve much more. I see a bleak future for news media and bright future for education. No one knows what will happen to the tech giants – although all of them were around 10 years ago so they are likely to remain around in some form. We may even be able to reclaim some of our privacy back. A big change of the next 10 years is that the internet will finally disappear into the world of technological (and physical) infrastructure. There will be content, data, applications, actions. But we won’t see the internet. Perhaps another big change will be the proliferation of usable translation tools. Although the punchline to Douglas Adams’ Babel Fish story should be remembered here. Presumably we will still be stuck with each earth.”

Melissa Michelson, professor of political science, Menlo College, and author, “Mobilizing Inclusion: Redefining Citizenship Through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns,” said, “Despite the many shortcomings and negative impacts of the digital age, I remain optimistic that innovators and leaders will find ways to overcome those negatives to use digital tools to allow for overall positive impacts on our social and civic lives. Every generation is threatened by the perceived drawbacks of new communication technologies, including television and telephones. Change is scary, and it can be easier to see the threats than the promise. But I believe that civic-minded people will find ways to control those negatives and allow for the benefits of the digital world to enhance and strengthen our democracy, whether that is through regulation, market competition or other new technologies that we cannot yet imagine. 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.”

Micah Altman, director, Center for Research in Equitable and Open Scholarship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote, “A 19th century French critic famously quipped: ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ And there are many regularities in human preferences; limits on individual human physical, emotional and cognitive performance; and entrenched societal interests that create substantial inertia in human social and civic institutions. However, in the last decade and a half we’ve witnessed social media-powered revolutions, crowd-sourced surveillance and counter-surveillance, do-it-yourself redistricting, and even a public participation draft of a national constitution. This decade will see many more experiments; some will have impact, a few will stick. Technology change is fundamentally disruptive – in other words: the more technology changes, the more things stay insane. Technology moves fast, regulation substantially more slowly. And social trust and equity usually lags both – if they arrive at all. For behavioral health – the combination of a shift in basic sciences from the behavior-cluster disease model to lower-neurological and cognitive-science models of mental health, the use of information and communications technology to lower the barrier to virtual-access to qualified talk-therapists and psychotherapists, and the use of ubiquitous mobile-device sensors and wearables has a great potential to improve mental health for those in a reliable health care system. Similarly, the integration of health records and advances in big-data analytics will improve personalized approaches to medicine for those who can afford it. Protecting privacy requires both critical changes in regulation and deployment of new privacy-enhancing technologies – so this will be slower and more uncertain: We could end up moving substantially toward individual privacy or toward surveillance – depending on our will to regulate. Movement toward trust in politics and equity in wealth are the most difficult to predict – but likely slowest to occur.”

Michael Muller, a researcher for a top global technology company focused on human aspects of data science and ethics and values in applications of artificial intelligence, said, “I hope that the democracies can develop a major tech effort to identify malicious tech activity, and to counter that malicious tech activity swiftly and effectively. Of course, I would prefer to see this done as an international effort – perhaps as a form of mutual defense, like NATO or the U.N. I suspect that it will require separate funding and governance bodies in the U.S., EU and (probably) U.K., as well as the struggling Asian democracies and of course Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps these regional efforts can nonetheless meet and exchange innovations through an international body. ‘A harm to one is a harm to all.’ There are chances for substantial change. However, much of the positive social changes in the past century have come from social and civic organizations such as *organized* labor and civic organizations such as Charter 77. These types of organizations – i.e., this component of people-power – are much weakened under current technology and political practices. I fear that this segment of civic society may not be strong enough to lead in the challenges that we are facing.”

Michael Pilos, chief marketing officer, FirePro, London, said, “Technology has consistently improved communication and transparency across the globe. Nothing will change that now. People are just intimidated because they only see a small part of the human story. I am betting on humans using the tools at their disposal in creative and (mostly) constructive ways. Surely some people can use the web to damage humanity and/or themselves… but 99.9% of humans use it to learn, love, share and communicate. I am bullish on humans and the logical learning curve!”

Michael R. Nelson, public policy lead, Cloudflare, active in internet governance, wrote, “Digital technologies are empowering local and state governments with tools and information that previously were only available to large national government agencies and offices. In many countries, that has meant that the number of employees working for national governments has shrunk as programs previously run by national governments are put under the control of institutions that are closer to the citizen. In some cases, functions that were previously run by governments are being run by private companies. In some cases, decentralization and privatization has made room for more experimentation and innovation, lower costs and more customized services for citizens. Local and state governments are sharing best practices and lessons learned – often using online collaboration tools and videoconferencing. The most effective social and civic innovation could turn out to be government actions that foster more competition in the tech sector and open the door to new entrants who provide new services more attuned to the needs and desires of citizens (e.g. better privacy protections, improved cybersecurity, more portability of personal data, end-to-end encryption and better authentication). Governments that try to ‘design the future’ will fail to anticipate some of the most powerful new innovations that could address the public’s concerns with the online services that exist today. Instead, they could end up imposing standards and practices that make sense for today’s world but have unintended consequences that block new approaches and new investment. For instance, in 2010, who anticipated the many ways that blockchain could fundamentally change how business is done (and not just in the financial sector)?”

Michael Wollowski, associate professor of computer science and software engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and expert in the Internet of Things, diagrammatic systems and artificial intelligence, wrote, “I do not know what form technology will take that may be used to produce social and civic innovation. All I know is that we need it. The Internet of Things and AI will enable us to make incredible innovations. However, for them to be beneficial to society, people need to be in control of the data and the devices. This is currently not the case. I am hopeful that people will band together and demand to be in charge of the data about them.”

Miguel Alcaine, head of the International Telecommunication Union area office in Central America, based in Honduras, said, “Social and civic innovation will succeed based on social and civic networks oriented to interact with governments, particularly local, and a new social contract that will filter society principles toward a more human goals-oriented society. Still, technology is the easy factor in the success formula. The impact of social and civic innovation is easier to collect depending on the level of soft skills intermediation needed. For physical health the intermediation is lower than for mental health associated with technology disruptions. Also, it will be more difficult when complex frameworks are needed, e.g. four working days, retirement, job entry, demographic changes, supply of knowledgeable workers against market demand.”

Miguel Moreno, professor of philosophy, University of Granada, Spain, expert in ethics, epistemology and technology, commented, “Attempts to control information flows and limit freedom of expression and political organisation have contributed to the development of new communication, protection and encryption tools for communications. While these tools have enhanced the capacity for civic mobilization and articulation of social response, the level of technical literacy and the culture of privacy required for their implementation are not evolving as rapidly as desirable for a significant part of the population. Nevertheless, there has been progress in the adoption of new models of intellectual property (Open Access licenses, Creative Commons), in access to culture (music and video streaming platforms) and in the dissemination of knowledge (Open Science initiatives and open books), which show the social capacity to face large monopolies in the digital content industry. I hope to see progress in social mobilization aimed at preventing environmental catastrophes and health problems in urban and working or professional environments. I have confidence in ambitious regulatory initiatives aimed at guaranteeing the privacy of users and consumers, in order to prevent abuses in accessing personal data from large companies and technological or e-commerce platforms. I have confidence in the development of new instruments to demand transparency and accountability from institutions and political leaders, as an important way to prevent corruption on a large scale. But the main social trend, at the global level, seems to be in favour of undemocratic governments, probably as a result of many global challenges, which have not been satisfactorily addressed through credible multilateral organisations and bodies.”

Mike Douglass, an independent developer, wrote, “That’s more of a hope than an expectation. There is a significant realization that a stampede to create connections between anonymous people and devices was a bad idea. It’s up to the technologists – and, more importantly, those who want to make money out of technology – to come up with a more measured approach. There’s a reason why gentlemen obtained letter of introduction to other gentlemen – one shouldn’t trust some random individual turning up on your doorstep. We need the equivalent approach. I’ve no idea what new innovations might turn up. But if we don’t get the trust/privacy/security model right we’ll end up with more social media disasters.”

Miles Fidelman, founder, Center for Civic Networking and principal Protocol Technologies Group, responded, “We can see clear evidence that the internet is enabling new connections, across traditional boundaries – for the flow of information, culture and commerce. It is strengthening some traditional institutions (e.g., ties between geographically distributed family members) and weakening others (e.g., the press). Perhaps the most notable innovation is that of ad hoc, network-centric organizations – be they global project teams or crisis response efforts. How much of this innovation will make things better, how much it will hurt us remains an open question. At best, we will see new forms of collaboration, among large numbers of people, toward beneficial ends – the most obvious example being the changing nature of responses to large-scale natural disasters. Perhaps we will see this spirit of volunteer and entrepreneurial cooperation emerge to address such pressing issues as climate change (e.g., maybe, the Green New Deal will be crowd-sourced).”

Milton Mueller, professor of internet policy, Georgia Tech, governance expert, said, “You forced me to answer Yes or No to a question that is indeterminate. It all depends. Things could go in many different directions.”

Moira de Roche, entrepreneur, International Professional Practice Partnership, based in Africa, said, “The reality is that we do not know the impact in the next decade, because some futurists propose that the world will be totally different in five years, because of the exponential change brought by 4IR technologies. What we can be sure of is that used responsibly, digital technologies will and must enable social and civic innovation. I believe we will see more virtual collaboration that will give rise to new tools being developed and embraced ‘on the fly.’ We will see more and more people grouped by interest rather than a physical location. We need to accept that as innovations occur, they will as quickly become redundant.”

Nigel Cameron, president emeritus, Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies, said, “Tech will be used on both sides. Hostile powers, especially China and Russia, have the capacity and huge incentive to bend Western opinion to their will and, at a minimum, cause chaos and damage confidence in the democratic process. Non-state actors too. There will be a growing struggle; the future of democracy is not secure, and the response of both political leaders and the tech giants to the first round (Trump election, et al.) has been dispiriting. But innovation by new tech players, and determination by the military and security communities, may shift the ground in the favor of freedom and truth. The example of the Industrial Revolution is not comforting. I’ve been writing about it recently and the evidence is increasingly clear that it took a long time, for example, for the economic benefits to benefit ordinary people in the U.K. (two generations?). One of the first impacts was to deskill large numbers, as the machine didn’t just require fewer workers, they were designed for child labor, which exploded and took decades to contain. I do see health benefits, as the various players will all find them advantageous (or irrelevant), though on the emotional/mental side not so clearly (I’m at least half-way to Sherry Turkle). On other matters, the jury is definitely out and I’m not sanguine. Our first rounds since Facebook was founded have all gone badly.”

Osvaldo Larancuent, a professor based in the Dominican Republic with expertise in the governance of cyberspace, said, “How might the success in social and civic innovation pass, and what kinds of new groups, systems and tools will be created? I think new tools will be available to improve social and civic participation through innovation. By now only 50% of the global population has access to digital platforms to participate in democracy. But this number will improve as many governments will reduce digital divide. As we have seen in these years, different civic groups and hacktivists have stressed the need from governments to hear the needs and wants of populations through digital but general-purpose tools. There are opportunities for more specialized tools to emerge to improve democratic participation, to channel response from politicians and democratic institutions to citizenships. And the educated skills and competences of people improve as more knowledge will be available to reach well-being by society in general. What types of successful social and civic innovation do you expect to see by 2030 in the areas you ranked as most likely to see positive change? There are a lot of areas that require innovation such as transport, health, alimentation, education, climate change, hospitality, benefits, poverty, social services, participation, voting, security, finances and so on. So innovations in those areas are expected to emerge, to improve participation, governance, social inclusion, well-being and so on. Taking advantage of the Internet of Things, apps, wearables and other tools based on artificial intelligence. Are there problems you believe are unlikely to be mitigated by any means? Yes. The challenges related to knowledge and skills demanded by industries, private sector based on competition and merit. Those will remain, although the gap will be reduced since more knowledge will be available to train and self-educate citizens. Which ones and why? Security is always an issue; new advances in the Internet of Things and AI improve security by preventing suspicious individuals to harm people. Criminality will continue, but these innovations will sacrifice privacy and digital identity issues. Health will require more privacy since more information from individuals will be available in the cloud, but some methods based on cryptography will improve. New medicines will improve the longevity of human beings. Labor innovation to continue substitution of manual activities will continue affecting low-medium skills from individuals. Justice/rule of law innovation will improve access to justice services, and also the compliance with the regulations.”

Pamela McCorduck, writer, consultant and author of several books, including “Machines Who Think,” said, “I am heartened by the number of organizations that have formed to enhance social and civic organization through technology. In the field I follow, artificial intelligence, the numbers of professionals who take seriously the problems that arise as a consequence of this technology are reassuring. Will they all succeed? Of course not. We will not get it right the first time. But eventually, I hope. Health and health care will be substantially improved by technology. We can’t afford not to do this. Technology might help us solve some of the stubborn problems of global warming. Otherwise, we face catastrophe here. Whether technology can help with our ossified political system is a question I am not prepared to guess about.”

Paola Ricaurte, fellow, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, wrote, “As technologies evolve with new functionalities, awareness about their risks and harms will increase. People will demand the improvement of their quality of life, the respect for human rights and the environment. However, there will be greater difficulties for those who are excluded from the digital economy to participate actively in the generation of new knowledge and to resist against the power of big tech. There will be more labor demands from workers in the technology industry. Awareness of the environmental impact of technology will grow and technology companies will be required to abandon programmed obsolescence.”

Peng Hwa Ang, professor, School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, wrote, “I tend toward the social-construction-of-technology school of thought. This means that it is not only technology that is determinative. I expect that the innovations will include non-technological ideas but then also using technology. For example, some work I have seen suggests that it is possible to counter fake news if there can be a trusted group of verifiers composed of sincere fact-seekers from the two opposing camps who are prepared to meet face-to-face to discuss or to confirm facts. There is social capital, there is technology and there is face-to-face encounter. I expect that social and civic innovations that will be adopted will be those that improve the human condition. The winnowing process is rigorous. But what may hold things up would be the people and the political process. For example, it may very well be possible for a social innovation to improve health. But the benefits may be captured by the elite and the powerful.”

Peter B. Reiner, professor of neuroethics, University of British Columbia, said, “I am confident that technology will contribute to social and civic innovation. As I peruse the landscape, I see many earnest and smart people working hard to improve the somewhat dispiriting situation that we currently find ourselves in. One encouraging example: only a few years ago, there was little interest in technology ethics. Today, interest is keen, and not just from technology developers but also from the world at large. These are the exact conditions that foster innovation in this realm.”

Peter Lunenfeld, professor of design, media arts and digital humanities, University of California-Los Angeles, and author of “Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine,” wrote, “We will use technology to solve the problems the use of technology creates, but the new fixes will bring new issues. Every design solution creates a new design problem, and so it is with the ways we have built our global networks. Highly technological societies have to be iterative if they hope to compete, and I think that societies that have experienced democracy will move to curb the slide to authoritarianism that social media has accelerated. Those curbs will bring about their own unintended consequences, however, which will start the cycle anew.”

Polina Kolozaridi, a sociologist based at the National Research University of Economics, Moscow, expert in the politics of Russia, wrote, “I am quite skeptical toward the term of ‘social and civic innovation.’ It supposes some linear development of something called world as well as technology. It is from my point of view rather like a bricolage or mixture of norms and practices. The word ‘success’ is also very uncertain here. I am sure that different social groups will be further and further from each other, losing any common ground. Of course, different technologies will help them to make boundaries. At the same time there will be more and more ephemeral cross-border communication. The Western-oriented movements will have a serious crisis, so I’d better turn to each particular country/region issue in this situation. I am sure that in the spheres that are already technology-based (like some industries or megapolis communities), it might be quite positive development of cooperation and participation. However, all the other spheres will change radically, so that we cannot yet say how it might be. The only thing about health and education, as inequality deepens, new technologies in both these spheres will also make the situation worse (less and less equal).”

Prateek Raj, assistant professor in strategy, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, an economics expert, wrote, “Technology is already shaping social and civic institutions in developing countries like India. We live in a digital world, and it is bound to shape our physical reality. As long as local grassroots activism is strong, we can expect positive innovations driven by technology to happen as well. The key issue, however, is to make sure that no single entity has too much power in the digital world, so that it can block civic innovations from gaining salience. One such threat is the crisis in local journalism due to the drying up of advertising revenue (that today goes to digital giants), and prioritization of visceral content in online social media feeds. Over the coming years, we can expect a greater debate in civic, academic and political spaces about how digital life is changing our society. We lived in a relatively unregulated digital world until now. It was great until the public realized that a few companies wield too much power today in our lives. We will see significant changes in areas like privacy, data protection, algorithm and architecture design guidelines, and platform accountability, etc., which should reduce the pervasiveness of misinformation, hate and visceral content over the internet. These steps will also reduce the power wielded by digital giants. Beyond these immediate effects, it is difficult to say if these social innovations will create a more participative and healthy society. These broader effects are driven by deeper underlying factors, like history, diversity, cohesiveness and social capital, and also political climate and institutions. In other words, just as digital world is shaping the physical world, physical world shapes our digital world as well.”

Predrag Tosic, a researcher of multi-agent systems and artificial intelligence and faculty, Whitworth University, said, “There is already a fairly broad consensus that rapid rise of genetics, AI and other technologies raises new complex ethical and other challenges, which require broad debate over new social norms, laws and regulations. Example: If a self-driving car kills a pedestrian, who is to be held accountable? I expect public debate, and then new legislation and the rise of new social norms to mature and progress along those lines. A major concern: technology and its multifaceted impact on our lives are traveling at a much faster pace in recent decades than the response by policymakers and legislatures. Again, broad public awareness and debate of emerging moral, legal and other issues are the key. I see considerable changes coming up in most, if not all, mentioned areas. Changes will not always be positive, or at least positive only or mostly. Some changes such as what’s been going on with means of large scalable communication, such as traditional mass media as well as social media, I find easier to predict the evolution of over the next decade, than some others – such as retraining workers whose professions are becoming obsolete due to AI and automation, or overall impact of rapid pace of technology advancements on people’s emotional and mental wellness.”

Puruesh Chaudhary, a futurist based in Pakistan, said, “Communities of interest are more likely to benefit from social and civic innovation. The scale, however, will only be possible if there’s significant national consciousness around the interest. These interests as we’ve seen evolve are mostly around different cultures, traditions, beliefs and norms. We have ambassadors of peace and prosperity – collective goods that have far greater reach and influence as compared to being an ambassador of a nation-state. Social injustice is by far one of the greatest consequences of war and conflicts around the world.”

Raimundo Beca, a longtime ICANN participant based in Chile, said, “In my opinion, as in the past decades, democratic institutions will be able to use successfully any new technology. However, I believe that in the next decades innovations will continue to be introduced in a smooth way. In my opinion, as in past decades in the next decades democratic institutions will systematically introduce positive innovations supported by new technologies. However, I believe that these innovations will be introduced smoothly and their impact will be dramatic.”

Randall Mayes, technology analyst, writer and futurist, commented, “To address the issue of income equality, a technology solution is a future and more advanced version of a blockchain such as Etherium, which utilizes smart contracts and will compensate citizens for the use of their data – genomes, buying patterns, interests, etc. Whether or not citizens have an expectation of privacy by voluntarily using a technology is a legal issue and part of a social contract. For privacy issues, legislation and fines with lots of zeros should have a positive effect. For the issue of cybercrime, what is not covered in legislation could be addressed by cyberinsurance. For society to benefit from technological progress, updated social contracts that clearly outline technology companies’ responsibilities and rights as well as individuals’ rights and responsibilities regarding their own voluntary behavior are necessary. For decades, spies have routinely gathered data using cameras, subterfuge, false flags, honeypots and by breaking into private spaces. If a sexy spy obtained sensitive data by seduction, it probably would not lead to a war. More recently, spies are able to gather the same data through hacking. If North Korea or China obtained the same sensitive data by hacking, the consensus among experts is that a red line is necessary to inform hackers that cyber war is the outcome. The same double standard occurs with influencing elections. In the past, the United States and other countries have impacted foreign elections using financial and military means. With the current mindset regarding hacking, the challenge is to explain why it should lead to war and a honeypot is just spy craft.”

Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor of online learning, University of Illinois Springfield, wrote, “Dramatic shifts in employment and education are likely to take place in the coming decade. Work weeks will diminish. Work will be specialized. Technology will impact most every field and the demand for continuous upskilling and lifelong continuing education will rise to meet the demands of a well-prepared and well-educated workforce. Social and civic innovation will take place in preparing people to meet the needs of business and industry. New education models such as just-in-time artificial intelligence-enhanced adaptive learning will emerge as will truly personalized learning. These will grow in the context of broad social structures that emerge both within and outside formal education as we know it. They will be responsive to the needs and desires of the public at large for education and training to become affordable or free. These changes will result in access to robust and individualized learning opportunities that will serve both the personal and professional interests of individuals and the economy. We are already seeing the advent of sophisticated fact-checking, image validating and information assurance initiatives. These will continue to expand to assure that people can rely upon the established media, social media and websites are legitimate. People will demand accuracy and value in their consumption of information. This will come in formal and informal conduits. Truth and veracity will be honored and strengthened following the current difficult period of exploitation of facts. The public deserves and will demand no less.”

Rey Junco, director of research, CIRCLE, Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, said, “We have seen social technologies be used for good and to promote social and civic change. CIRCLE conducted polling of youth aged 18-24 around the 2018 midterm elections. A relevant finding from this polling was that youth were much more engaged in offline activism (such as attending a march, sitting in or occupying a place as an act of civil disobedience, walking out of school or college to make a statement, or participating in a union strike) in 2018 than in 2016 and that this increase in participation is significantly correlated to online activism (or what had traditionally be termed ‘slacktivism’). In other words, there is clearly evidence that technology use can spur civic innovation and lead to the spread and uptake of youth movements. The prototypical example of such a movement is the gun violence prevention movement. For months leading up to the 2018 election cycle, young people highlighted the problem of gun violence and school safety in many communities and made it part of the national conversation, which made a sizable impact in politics and in the media. Parkland students founded Never Again MSD, which called for protests and demonstrations to lobby for anti-gun violence legislation and co-organized the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., along with numerous voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts. They used social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to spread their message, and in turn caught the attention of other young people across the nation. Indeed, this movement elevated the conversation around gun violence prevention to a central theme for the 2018 midterms. Therefore, I think we can expect, at some point, that technology will be used not only to further and spur social and civic innovation, but also to help solve some of the problems that said technology has created – such as the spread of misinformation and the contributions to political polarization. Social and civic innovation will substantially mitigate mental and emotional health problems tied to digital life Two technologies in particular that are promoted in public conversations as causing mental and emotional harm are social media and smartphones; however, both of these technologies grew out of and thrived because of the human need for connection. Social media were developed at a time when people were feeling especially disconnected to their communities, families and friends – likely due to not just increased geographic mobility, but also economic pressures and global stressors (such as protracted war in the Middle East). It was no surprise to see social media replace physical social gathering places of decades before. Indeed, social media helped individuals feel more connected to each other, especially individuals from minoritized backgrounds who found social media as more accepting spaces than their own physical communities. Smartphones were developed shortly thereafter and again provided an easier method for individuals to stay connected to their peer networks and to access the social media they had already integrated into their lives as virtual community spaces. The visibility of communication online and through the use of smartphones has highlighted, more publicly, difficulties in interpersonal interactions that existed well before the advent of these technologies. Plus, some of the uses of these technologies have promoted unhealthy habits, especially by people who were predisposed to have psychological and physical health issues – for instance, a person who was depressed could go online to engage with others and feel more connected; however, another person with similar depressive symptomology could use social technologies to further a more negative view of themselves and their life circumstances, for instance. We have seen a shift toward trying to mitigate the impact of less-healthy forms of technology use. For instance, smartphone operating system developers have started to include controls for limiting a user’s screen time. Additionally, cell phone developers are starting to add models that have less, rather than more, ‘distracting’ features – such as a phone that can only send and receive calls and text messages. We will likely continue to see more innovation in this space as we continue to hone in on which approaches to technology positively or negatively impact mental and physical well-being.”

Rich Ling, professor, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; expert on the social consequences of mobile communication, said, “Going back beyond the Industrial Revolution, it is also useful to look at the Printing Revolution. This development led to a wide variety of positive (e.g. the Enlightenment, scientific method, the age of exploration) and negative consequences (e.g. the intense bloodshed associated with the Reformation). These processes took several hundred years to work themselves out. The printing press facilitated diffusing the work of Newton and Lavoisier, but the divisions associated with Luther’s Theses were profound, contributing to the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the 30-year War. Hopefully, we will avoid the bad and experience the good when it comes to the IT, and now the AI revolution. The news industry is ripe for a major restructuring. The traditional gatekeeping structure of the industry is under stress from many directions. The development of IT and the web mean that this model is no longer viable. Thus, there is a major need to rethink Jefferson’s notion of an enlightened and informed electorate. There is a need to rethink how it is that we can have an informed and cogent public discussion on issues such as pollution, global warming, nuclear proliferation, etc. These issues demand international cooperation. They demand informed insight and the ability to develop realistic policy alternatives, and they demand a willingness to civilly discuss viable policy alternatives. IT and AI can play a role in this, but the verification systems need to be developed, and society needs to agree on how these mediation forms can be integrated into the policy process.”

Richard Forno, assistant director, Center for Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, wrote, “Emerging uses of technology and evolving social expectations will certainly impact social/civic innovation. Technology development/use will always evolve faster than policy, too. However I believe we’re approaching a tipping point where society may realize that some good-faith attempts to place boundaries on technology use – especially in areas like disinformation, threats, bullying, etc. – is necessary. Of course, this is harder to do in liberal Western societies that have legal protections over things like free speech – but I think this will be the next example of a tech+society crisis point.”

Richard Jones, an entrepreneur based in Europe, said, “As traditional systems and values have been disrupted by the internet, the need for mental stability is increasing exponentially. Whether it’s the family unit, doctor or teacher support, work peer groups, student debt, concerns about destruction of our planet, there are few givens thus less amelioration of pressure. The sense of accretion of wealth, reliability of savings plans to support retirement are all subject to constant challenge. Self-determination of one’s own gender before adolescence, so many choices are bewildering and presume an omniscience in both the establishment and the individual, which is misguided. Resolution of these pressures requires a further evolution of the species to a place yet more distant from hunter gatherer, cave dweller. I am unsure of the form but believe the answer could equally emerge from the Orient or the Occident. The inescapability of the ‘web’ to function is leaving some of us conflicted as we utilise VPN to evade criminal compromise of our data and permissions but are overwhelmed by the functions of GPS, state decryption, retail inducement cookies, photo and smart home geo location and listening devices, diary optimisation, advanced vehicle systems. Today’s adults have to embrace responsibility for things with ramifications beyond their understanding or control. Insurance was a concept developed to address changes at one time faced on new investment and activity as was clean air legislation. It seems similar innovation is required to address the vulnerability of people to issues beyond their control. I wish I had a crystal ball! I know subject/citizen pressure will call for platforms to fix bias, propaganda, lies and a whole range of perceived problems. Currently I’m concerned this constrains free speech and thereby makes ‘approved think’ troubling. The whole edifice is built on shaky foundations so whether the pressure resolves itself positively is just my stab at whether it’ll be resolved or fail.”

Rick O’Gorman, writer for the Evonomics blog and lecturer and employability development director for the department of psychology, University of Essex, said, “This is more a gut opinion. We already see ways that tech is impacting behaviour. A trivial example is TV consumption and its likely effects on cinema. In the same way, tools like Twitter and Facebook have effects and have developed their own norms, and indeed research is suggesting that tech is affecting how young people date. It is hard to say these are bad changes just yet but they are changes. In the same way, how people are persuaded to vote, etc., will be affected, but people will also adjust. Just as watching TV (in the old days of watching live over the air with ads) meant learning to tune out advertising (good time for toilet break or tea), so people are learning to handle Twitter. A great issue right now is the Twitter mob and how that affects discourse elsewhere. Currently mass media happily picks up on various waves of outrage online and reports it, when in the past some time would have to pass before sampling opinions, by which time people had time to reflect longer. Currently, a lot of things are instant, and we need to learn how that affects collective behaviour. I have stopped responding. Your survey is badly designed. You have items that ask about a particular valence (e.g., something positive will happen) and then ask whether there will be no change or lots of change. However, what if I feel there will be no positive change and lots of negative change? Makes no sense.”

Rob Atkinson, president, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said, “These questions largely imply that there are already significant societal problems from digital technologies. I don’t accept that premise.”

Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, said, “This answer may seem inconsistent with my first one. But human adaptation never ceases. We will work the problems of the data oligopoly and our own over-reliance on what our phones bring us, and the ability of digital technologies to connect us and accelerate trends will play a role. How could they not? But it is a long road. Civic and social innovation will contribute most to the personal impacts of digital technology: over-reliance on the phone, privacy, improved health through digital tech. The bigger changes in terms of how we regulate companies and create a new business model for media are political, social and cultural issues on which digital tech will have little or no impact beyond a modest acceleration in how opinions are formed.”

Robert Epstein, Senior Research Psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and a contributing editor for Scientific American Mind, said, “I have given you a positive response to your question, but not for the reasons you might think. 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, shadowbanning, 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.” [In structuring your questions you] say nothing about surveillance and censorship. You say nothing about filter bubbles or the Internet of Things. You say nothing about the addiction problem – one deliberately engineered by tech companies. You seem completely unaware of the power that “ephemeral experiences” (a phrase used in one of the internal emails leaked recently from Google) have to influence thoughts and behavior. I could go on. The new forms of influence I have discovered – SEME, SSE, TME, DDE, ABE, etc. – are among the largest ever discovered in the behavioral sciences, and they are largely invisible to the people they affect. Most rely on ephemeral experiences – brief experiences people have with content that is generated on the fly, disappears and leaves no paper trail. I know without doubt, both from leaks and informants, that big tech employees and executives are not only well aware of the power of such experiences, they also use them deliberately to suit their needs. The obvious lapses in your survey raise an obvious question: Who provided the funding? And have any of you ever received support from any of the big tech companies? I’m keeping copies of the comments I’m sending you. There might be a news story in here somewhere. Respectfully, / Robert Epstein”

Ryan Sweeney, director of analytics, Ignite Social Media, commented, “In order to survive as a functioning society we need social and civic innovation to match our use of technology. Jobs and job requirements are changing as a result of technology. Automation is increasing across a multitude of industries; identifying how we protect citizens from these changes and help them adapt will be instrumental in building happiness and well-being among the population.”

Sam Adams, a senior research scientist in artificial intelligence, RTI International, architecting national-scale knowledge graphs for global good who previously spent 24 years with IBM, said, “We are already seeing the emergence of ‘tech-free’ camps and vacation packages. Experiencing life ‘offline’ will become a generational goal, much like the Millennial generation introduced ride sharing and home sharing. Ironically, it will be technology that enables this trend, and premiums will be paid for uninterrupted time to focus or to simply enjoy being alive. This may also indicate a new kind of disparity between economic strata, with the more wealthy affording privacy, peace and quiet while the lower strata remain fodder for 24/7 social media aggregators and botnets. I do expect new social platforms to emerge that focus on privacy and ‘fake-free’ information, or at least they will claim to be so. Proving that to a jaded public will be a challenge. Resisting the temptation to exploit all that data will be extremely hard. And how to pay for it all? If it is subscriber-paid, then only the wealthy will be able to afford it. But at the end of the decade, humans will still be humans, and both greed and generosity, love and hate, truth and lies, will likely still exist in the same proportions as they do today.”

Sam Lehman-Wilzig, professor of communications, Bar-Ilan University, specializing in Israeli politics and the impact of technological evolution, said, “The biggest advance will be the use of artificial intelligence to fight disinformation, deepfakes and the like. There will be an AI ‘arms’ race between those spreading disinformation and those fighting/preventing it. Overall, I see the latter gaining the upper hand. I see all sorts of media-related ‘trust’ and fact-finding systems developed to reinforce the survivability of the more professional newsgathering and reporting organizations. These can take the form of ‘seals of approval’ all the way to far greater resources invested by social media platforms to ferret out disinformation and unreliable news sources.”

Sam Punnett, futurist and consultant, FAD Research Inc., said, “I don’t believe technology use through social and civic innovation will ‘significantly’ reduce challenges of the digital age. I believe it will address some problems and create others. Digital affairs will continue to be a disruptive force. Credibility of media, disruption of financial business in banking and insurance, cyber and ransom attacks of institutions, all will continue to challenge society’s capacity to adapt. Our ability to deal with digital age problems should improve with an evolution in leadership away from pre-internet incumbents. While it is difficult to be optimistic, I am compelled to be so. There is quite a gap in social and civic innovation between my own country, Canada, and the United States. In my opinion the U.S. has regressed with its current administration and failed to keep up with the rest of the developed world during previous administrations in the areas of social and civic innovation. The problem is political, centering around vision and leadership. Having grown up in the U.S. I have confidence that America can change course. Though there are days, such as today, following two mass shootings in less than 24 hours, when symptoms appear especially dark.”

Sanoussi Baahe Dadde, a self-employed internet consultant, said, “We must understand that the more the population of the world grows, the better we are getting scientist, young leaders with motivation of a lasting development, creative people and so many wonderful things, in other words ‘innovations for development.’ So I think there is success in social and civic innovation. By 2030 certainly everyone will get access to pure water, no hunger, at least 75% of girls will be educated especially in Africa because that is the continent where girls don’t have access to education by then we will be in zero poverty since women are the most that educate children and if women are schooling so all children are safe.”

Sasha Costanza-Chock, associate professor of civic media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote, “Despite the pessimism of my previous answer, on the bright side, there is a growing movement among technologists to rethink the ways we develop and deploy technology. Unfolding movements like #TechWontBuildIt are based on tech workers’ desire to hold their companies accountable for harmful activities. There is increasing interest in how to co-design technologies together with marginalized communities, as reflected in the emergence of groups like the Design Justice Network. Newer generations of technologists are deeply invested in how social justice values might be reflected in the companies and products they dedicate their time to. I don’t think ‘innovation’ is going to be the key to dealing with most of our pressing problems. Instead, I think we will need powerful broad-based social movements that are capable of making demands and winning concrete victories by organizing to advance already-existing policy solutions. In many areas we know what we need to do, we just lack the political will.”

Scott B. MacDonald, an experienced chief economist and international economic adviser, said, “On the positive side, technology can help make local governments work better for their citizens. They may also open new means of communication between political leaders and citizenry. We should be very deeply concerned that technology will be used for better control and influencing of people and not necessarily for their betterment. The more information we know about people can allow a better customization of their lifestyle, but it provides knowledge of what they read and think. Social media and the like also will be formed by influencers, who will seek to determine what is morally right – either arch-conservative ideas or social justice warrior frameworks, both of which lend themselves to a ‘Brave New World’ landscape where you don’t have to think; you can discuss, but only as long as your views conform with the views passed via technology from the commanding heights.”

Scott McLeod, associate professor of educational leadership at University of Colorado, Denver, wrote, “Success in social and civic innovation is likely. It may come to pass with groups responding to problems created by information technologies via new information technologies. I think MIT’s and in particular MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito’s focus on issues of racism in artificial intelligence and facial recognition is a good of example of this. What types of successful social and civic innovation do you expect to see by 2030 in the areas you ranked as most likely to see positive change? Are there problems you believe are unlikely to be mitigated by any means? Which ones and why? I’ll focus here on how I think CC-4 MIT OpenCourseWare-centric wiki World University and School planned in approximately 200 countries’ official languages, and in all 7,111 known living languages. ‘Substantially modulate the power of large technology companies.’ WUaS seeks to engage in teaching and learning with regards to large technology companies, and hopefully our graduates will be able to work at large technology companies, thus modulating their power from within (much like MIT and Stanford graduates may have done this, for example, both of which great universities WUaS seeks to ‘emerge from’). ‘Substantially lead to ethical advances in uses of algorithms.’ WUaS is Friendly/Quaker-informed, and hopefully related cultural thinking will lead to ‘ethical advances in uses of algorithms.’ ‘Substantially improve the economic stability of the news media.’ Perhaps the news media will be able to hire students from World University and School who have taken a business-related degree at WUaS. ‘Substantially improve trust in democratic institutions.’ A teaching and learning opportunity with IT? ‘Substantially lead to the creation of social media platforms where beneficial self-expression, connection and fact-based information are dominant.’ This is a growth area for students at World University and School, and around the world. ‘Substantially enable political activities that lead to progress in solving major policy problems.’ While WUaS seeks to stay out of political activity, our faculty in many countries’ languages will likely teach about successful approaches to this in the IT age. ‘Substantially establish an acceptable balance between personal privacy and public safety.’ Potentially these will be legal/IT questions, and WUaS’s Law Schools will be able to teach about best approaches to these questions. ‘Substantially reduce worker vulnerabilities associated with technological disruptions.’ WUaS seeks to develop/facilitate Universal Basic Income experiments (perhaps in conjunction with a SINGLE cryptocurrency with blockchain ledger, backed by approximately 200 countries’ central banks). In addition, and significantly, WUaS seeks to study academically how best to reduce worker vulnerabilities associated with technological disruptions, and over centuries (with innumerable implications for policy and develop information technologies in response). ‘Substantially improve people’s physical health.’ World University and School seeks to develop online medical schools with online teaching hospitals – and potentially even with avatar bot electronic health records for all 7.5 billion people on the planet (building on Project ECHO and Stanford/Duke/Google’s Project Baseline) to develop maps toward physical health. ‘Substantially mitigate mental and emotional health problems tied to digital life.’ World University and School seeks to develop online psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and fundamental research in psychology and brain science to address these issues globally, and therapeutically. WUaS also seeks to develop online teaching hospitals for online clinical care in these regards. In a parallel way, World University and School plans to develop an online realistic virtual earth including especially a realistic virtual Harbin Hot Springs (my actual-virtual, physical-digital ethnographic field site) for healing, as well as ‘getting away from it all’ – therapeutically especially. In addition, this actual-virtual Harbin Hot Springs field site will focus on studying mental and emotional flourishing brain science-wise, as well as socio-culturally. In a very beginning way, here’s what I have in mind by a 3D interactive realistic virtual universe/earth and at the atomic/cellular levels too in something like Google Street View with TIME SLIDER/Maps/Earth/Translate +++: Visit the Harbin Hot Springs’ gate here, and ‘walk’ ‘4 miles’ down the road to ‘amble’ around Middletown, California: http://tinyurl.com/p62rpcg ~ https://twitter.com/HarbinBook ~ http://bit.ly/HarbinBook ~ and check out ‘Pegman’ in the lower left corner, which I think will grow into human avatar bots at the cellular and atomic levels too! World University and School seeks for this realistic virtual earth/universe to facilitate very successful social and civic innovation by 2030 in the areas I ranked as most likely to see positive change. – – Scott MacLeod – Founder, President & Professor – World University and School – http://worlduniversityandschool.org – http://scottmacleod.com – CC World University and School – like CC Wikipedia with best STEM-centric CC OpenCourseWare – incorporated as a nonprofit university and school in California, and is a U.S. 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt educational organization.”

Shane Kerr, lead engineer for NS1 internet domain security, said, “As wealth and power consolidates, traditional options to achieve success in society decline. Historically this would have created unrest and demands for reform. With modern technology, it may be possible that large minorities or even majorities of society will be able to ‘opt out’ of competition for power and prestige, and instead find alternative ways to measure success and the quality of their lives. People are already able to create, share, modify and otherwise enjoy photography, video, music and so on, in ways that were barely possible to previous generations. Things in this vein will likely become more and more significant. In an ideal world, those winning the competition for power and control will be convinced that their victory is ultimately hollow without being a part of the wider human experience and competition. In a less than ideal world, they will use their power to attempt to eliminate joy and prevent anyone who does not follow their path from being happy. I am fairly confident that the improvements in medical technology, like CRISPR-Cas9 and other gene editing, and related technologies like artificial intelligence, will result in vastly improved medical care for humankind. Things like the malaria vaccine and golden rice will improve the lives of the poorest basically for free. However, the biggest problem facing humanity – climate change – is unlikely to see any real improvement due to innovation social or civic innovation, since the only real solution in the long term is moving away from economic models based on unending growth. The problems of exponential growth have been recognized for hundreds of years, and I don’t expect these to get solved in the next 10 years.”

Shannon Ellis, an expert in data science and teaching professor, University of California-San Diego, said, “We really need to dedicate time, effort and resources to this space. It should not be used to control, but it should be used to protect our population, our institutions and our systems. Regulation is not inherently bad, and while the GDP[AB5]  did *not* get it all the way right in the EU (i.e. thwarts innovation too strongly), we need to use what other countries are doing to start to innovate intelligently in this space. Currently we’re behind. Note that the internet can remain free while data, information and systems can be regulated. There is space for both. I see the most potential for positive changes in social and civic innovation in the protection of individual privacy when it comes to their data. I look to the right to be forgotten and the ability to know where one’s data is being shared as critical in this space. As for social media and mental and physical health in this space, I think a lot still remains to be seen to see if there will be a positive outcome here.”

Sharon Sputz, executive director, strategic programs, Columbia University Data Science Institute, said, “New laws and policies will be needed to protect citizens from the misuse of technology. One example is around ensuring the use of machine learning systems do not have bias or unfair outcomes.”

Shel Israel, Forbes columnist and author of many business books on disruptive technologies, including “Resurrecting Trust: Technology, Transparency and the Bottom Line,” said, “There will be more disruptive innovations over the next 10 years than has occurred in the past 10 years. Driven by artificial intelligence and immersive technologies such as augmented reality, the lines between humans and their digital technologies will actually blur. Chatbots for example, will transform from words appearing on screens to holograms sitting next to us that can use haptic technologies to hug us. While the primary interface between people and their machines will move from keyboards to voice interaction, Crain-computer interfaces will be rapidly advancing. There will be abundant social, civic and technical innovations. Whether they are for better or worse remains to be seen. I am a lifetime tech enthusiast but I find myself pessimistic about the direction this has taken and doubtful that economic and political powers will reverse that direction.”

Srinivasan Ramani, Internet Hall of Fame member and pioneer of the Internet in India, wrote, “I do not believe that we can simplify the issues by asking if technology would be bad or good. The horrors perpetrated upon millions of people in the name of a science, ‘eugenics’ for furthering social objectives, are very well documented. The good or bad is not in technology. It is in us. We need to recognize that the basis of our economy is economic freedom, including one of exploiting technology for corporate ends. Since modern technology requires large teams to work together to innovate, most innovation is not necessarily committed to social good. Very often it is committed to the next quarter’s profit. So, progress toward society’s good is very often uncertain. It depends upon individuals’ commitments, academics using their resources and privileges (without enthusiastic endorsements from their authorities, and so on). So, answering your questions is like saying what is likely to happen to climate change. Instead of a survey of what is likely to happen, please survey what we can do and what we should do. In India we can often see mendicants displaying a tame parrot on a string. It picks slips of paper randomly out of a pile and the mendicant reads out the ‘prediction about your future to you.’ Surely, in the ISOC we have better technology than that to deal with the future!”

Stephan G. Humer, lecturer expert in digital life, Hochschule Fresenius University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, commented, “The ingenuity and creativity of unexpected actors has always been stronger than the unintended side effects of technical development. I see no sign that the negative aspects will prevail in the case of digitisation. So far, the internet has brought more positive than negative aspects, and this has come mainly from inspired users and improved institutions.”

Stephen Downes, senior research officer, digital technologies, National Research Council Canada, commented, “We are seeing a retrenchment against globalization but this trend will have reversed by 2030 as a result of increasing (and increasingly apparent) interdependence as a single information economy. The cost of physical goods will continue to trend toward zero as productivity increases and people will be valued less for their labour and more for their individuality and creativity. People will do more for themselves and depend less on centralized services. Those centralized services that will remain will become more like infrastructure, largely reliant on public support and therefore social (rather than private) control. While people will manage their own information, they will also surrender most of their privacy in return for more effective services, greater security and reduced corruption. Illegal wealth will be harder to create and harder to hide; this will make it much easier for societies to support health, education and social welfare. When borders no longer restrict the glow of goods, information and capital, people will demand an equivalent right for themselves. The right to mobility will be vigorously contested, and will be the major civil right to be achieved in the 21st century. By the end of the 21st century, hoarding – whether of land, goods, people or capital – will be viewed as socially repugnant. By 2030, the first signs of this transition in social values will be evident. Most of the existing institutions that are the subject of the previous questions will be replaced by multiple decentralized institutions serving the same public functions, but for wider benefit, with less central control. For example, government and democracy: the idea that we have a single government that manages all aspects of a nation will devolve over the next 50 years into a set of independently managed institutions, managed in a decentralized fashion. E.g., housing, social services, health care, education, etc., will run as separate agencies not subject to a single central control. This won’t happen within 10 years, but we will see the first signs of it in 10 years, as more and more elements of government services become self-managed and socially funded, rather than centrally managed and institutionally funded.”

Steven Miller, vice provost and professor of information systems at Singapore Management University, said, “You do not allow for the simultaneity of both options, and that is what will happen, and that is what has been happening, and what is happening, and will continue to happen. Now, how will things tilt? Will the ‘bad stuff’ dominate (like the Nazis in World War II, for a while at least)? Or will more enlightened forces prevail? I am not a historian, and not so well read in history – but I suspect our human history is just full of examples of both – and with some periods that are ‘darker,’ more regressive and harder on people, and some periods that are more progressive and more positive, at least for the greater number of people. I am not inspired by the framing of the way this survey poses the questions. Issues of fairness with decision-making – of corporate entities, of banks, of local government, of federal governments – are these new issues? Certainly not. As long as we as humans have been going about these decisions, there have been ‘human considerations’ in how these decisions are made – with all the emotional and political things that are especially important to most people. So none of this is new. The irony is with more explicit data-driven decision making, and the use of various types of advanced analytics (of which multi-layer neural networks, aka Deep Learning systems, are just one approach to data-driven, algorithmic decision making) – it actually makes it EASIER to deal systematically with so-called bias factors. Or if not deal with it, at least know what the situation is as it has to be explicitly engineered, which is NOT the case when a bunch of managers and staff, all from one culture, or who share a certain set of cultural likes and dislikes, come together and make these decisions based on their judgement. So there are multiple sides to this.”

Stuart Umpleby, retired cybernetician, professor of management and director research at George Washington University, commented, “There is currently a lot of innovation in electronic media. We can expect some successes in improving the social responsibility of social media. There is increasing participation in state and local politics due to acrimony at the national level. Artificial intelligence can be used to identify hate speech and errors and point to better information. However, any methods intended to improve social media could also be used to coarsen discussion. The balance of change may depend on who has the most money. People are becoming more adept at using social media for group discussions. People from other locations, anywhere in the world, can be involved. Hence, people with other views can be included and ideas can be shared at greater distance. The gap between the digitally literate and the digitally illiterate will grow. There will continue to be many efforts to increase digital literacy.”

Susan Ariel Aronson, research professor of international affairs, George Washington University and fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation, said, “Innovators and governments are investing substantially in health. Consequently, we will see lots of innovation, and because health is seen as a human right by many, there will be significant regulation to ensure that these rights are respected. But I deeply worry about governance in the developing world where governments and individuals will be consumers of data-driven services such as artificial intelligence, and without such sectors, they won’t effectively know how to govern them. Governance of data could be particularly weak in nations without a strong feedback loop and lots of expertise and public trust in governance. Data is a development issue.”

Laura Sallstrom, an international public policy analyst, wrote, “The question seems presumptively positive in the way it is drafted. It presumes ‘innovation’ is a positive. You could also innovate in the negative and clearly there is risk of that. If you are a displaced manufacturing worker, you don’t see innovation as a positive. Democratic institutions and the mechanisms that support them are most at risk. I do not see a clear out to disinformation and misinformation in technology platforms. When video can be manipulated and you can’t even believe what your own eyes show you to be true, what hope do you have that actual facts will support democratic decision making? We cannot retool fast enough to lift up the lower income portions of the labor force. Technology is moving too quickly and too often we define progress as greater efficiency in labor or more technology. We need to redefine ‘progress’ to include employment. There are clearly technology solutions being developed to address individual user privacy and the debate has been expanded to such an extent I think there is a possibility to see a successful outcome here. It’s impossible to eliminate bias altogether in algorithms or anything that originates with humans. The focus on ethics has, however, been very helpful and may shift the needle.”

Sarah Scheffler, a doctoral student at Boston University, wrote, “At the scale of the technological problems, only solutions that are partly technological can hope to compete. The legal system and social norms will help, but will not be the whole picture. I envision a technical solution handling most cases with only moderate accuracy, and human judgement handling the cases where the technical solution fails. Privacy will be solved one way or another. Either law and public opinion will place protections that are good enough to satisfy most of the populace, or privacy as a concept will change as a matter of values. Not sure which, but either way it’ll be different. (I’m hoping for the first one.) Eventually, companies will realize that some algorithmic bias arises from a lack of information/accuracy about a sub population. They will realize that they can make more money by properly serving the sub population, gather more data about them, and voila, algorithmic bias gone. Then there will remain biases due to differences in true base rates, and those we will argue about for decades. Nothing will be done directly about technological unemployment. Eventually, we will either make it much easier for people to em/immigrate to find jobs, establish some kind of universal income or abolish money entirely in a fully automated society. Probably not for another 100-plus years. But since the boomers are about to retire, we don’t have to worry about this for at least a few decades because we’ll need as much productivity as we can to support the population.”

Richard Culatta, CEO of ISTE and futurist and consultant, wrote, “We are already seeing many examples of tech being used to address tough social problems (tools that allow you to take pictures of hotel rooms to stop human trafficking, apps that help identify public infrastructure that needs be fixed, etc.). However, to have widespread social and civic innovation we must be much more intentional about teaching our children to view tech as a problem-solving tool. There are several initiatives that are helping here. First, there is a broad movement to teach Computational Thinking to all students across the country (helping them view tech as a tool they can design and control, not just use). Second, the DigCitCommit movement provides a concrete set of competencies for students to learn and practice using technology specifically to reinforce our democracy and strengthen our virtual communities. The problems will largely be addressed through innovation in our use of technology. However there is a fundamental challenge that will persist as long as the ad-based internet business model remains the same. As Jaron Lanier and others have shown, the ad-based revenue model of the internet drives us to destruction because capitalizing on negative emotion (fear, hate, anger) is cheaper than getting people to take action through positive messages. Negativity online is cheaper than positivity. It will take both new business models and significant and thoughtful teaching in schools and families to overcome the effects of targeted-ad-driven information (or misinformation). Neither teachers nor parents are currently prepared to have these conversations.”

Terri Horton, workforce futurist with FuturPath LLC, wrote, “Access to people across all ranks of society, whether emerging economies or traditionally disenfranchised populations will facilitate innovation.”

Will significant social and civic innovation occur between 2020 and 2030, and can it help solve emerging issues?

The following respondents wrote these qualitative remarks after choosing as their quantitative response that “technology use will have no effect on social and civic innovation.”

Rich Salz, senior architect, Akamai Technologies, wrote, “A handful of legislators, in one (U.S.) or more (EU) countries will impose regulations on the tech giants. I do not know what impact that will have. It wasn’t until I nearly completed the questions that I realized how depressed this makes me. Capitalism in the U.S. rules. Little will be done, and what there is will be ineffectual and/or tied up in the courts. The alternative – China, or even the India model – is worse.”

Richard Lachmann, professor, comparative/historical Sociology and political sociology, State University of New York-Albany, said, “So far the internet and other technologies have had a marginal effect or at best re-enforced existing developments. Journalistic coverage of the Arab Spring, for example, way underplayed the role of the Muslim Brotherhood or labor unions and instead gave an exaggerated heroic role to Twitter or to a single Google employee in Egypt. We now see, thanks to the work of real Middle Eastern specialists, that these early stories were misleading and, as much U.S. journalism does, strained to give pride of place to American individuals, corporations or technology. Real social and civic innovation comes from real social interactions between live individuals who create or revive organizations such as political parties, unions, churches and social movements. The institutions and social settings that make innovation likely – political parties, unions, churches, etc. – have weakened greatly in the last half-century. That is why I think it is unlikely that social and civic innovation will occur in the next 10 years. The factors we can measure do not point to innovation. The only hope for innovation is that eruptions of powerful social movements are unpredictable. We need to place our hope in the possibility that humans can surprise by coming together to meet the environmental and other dangers we all face.”

Riel Miller, head of foresight, UNESCO, based in Paris, wrote, “There is no way to predict these phenomena – change could go either way. The role of human agency from a conscious goal-driven perspective needs to be significantly rethought; these changes are not planned.”

Robert Cannon, senior counsel for a U.S. government agency and founder of Cybertelecom, a not-for-profit educational project focused on internet law and policy, wrote, “Your question is poorly framed. You seem to be asking * Does society evolve, change (yes or no). Of course society evolves. Is the alternative that society is exactly like 1789 when the first hero president of the nation was a slaveholder, had wooden teeth, and had to ride a horse X hours if he wanted to have a chat with George Mason?? Will tech bring a utopia? Is that the second part of your question? I mean it’s one thing to observe trends. I can observe, as I did previously, that people want to have scapegoats and will accuse technology of horrors – when in fact it is PEOPLE who have the need for the scapegoat while the tech just marches on and in fact has been very positive. But you are asking who wins in 10 years? I mean, let me know if you talk to ANYONE in the survey who has the answer to that (I have a bridge I would like to sell them). The ranking questions are also poorly framed. 2. Social and civic innovation will substantially lead to ethical advances in uses of algorithms. Yes. OF COURSE it will. You did not say good or bad. Are you assuming ‘ethical’ = good?? It doesn’t (it doesn’t – I have a degree in ethics and law). So yes, there will be ethical advances in the uses of algorithms – and you have said NOTHING at all. 7. Social and civic innovation will substantially establish an acceptable balance between personal privacy and public safety. Yup. Things tend to move toward an equilibrium. Is that good or bad? Don’t know. Will people accept it? Yup. People of this generation accept things that people from the last generation would NEVER accept (and vice versa). An ‘acceptable balance’ exists (people give lots of information to Facebook and they implicitly find that acceptable) and will exist. And you have said nothing. 8. Social and civic innovation will substantially reduce worker vulnerabilities associated with technological disruptions. You only gave the options of agree or this won’t happen. You don’t give the option that the information revolution will constitute a massive displacement of the workforce. It is so funny hearing pundits defensively apologize that X or Y will not mean a loss of jobs. ‘Thou protests too much.’ We are moving into a new economy unlike the last one. The Industrial Economy and the Agrarian economy was based on labor. The information economy will not be. We are already seeing massive job loss – along with new job growth at the nascent time of the new economy and firms move in to create and capture arbitrage and surplus (but significant job growth is also in minimum wage jobs with middle class wages melting away – see comments of economic anxiety leading to tribalism). What will the new economy be based on? Don’t know. Current capitalist notions of economies assume that money flows in ecosystems. Try to imagine an ecosystem that works for the information economy. Will we turn into ‘Star Trek’ and not have currency or salaries? Doubtful – Roddenberry was wrong about human nature. Does society segregate along economic classes as suggested in ‘Blade Runner?’ Maybe. ‘Will improve.’ You keep asking will X improve. These questions ask for predictions of the future and whether we will achieve techno utopia. Ask simpler questions. ‘Will X impact…’ Yes and this is what can be forecast.”

Serge Marelli, an IT professional based in Luxembourg who works on and with the net, wrote, “Technology will not ‘create’ any (magical) solution to mitigate misuse of the same technology. Compare this with our miserable failure to mitigate the effects of pollution and global warming. We know what is necessary, but we, humans as a group, find ourselves unable to effect[AB1]  and change. We are facing the powers of huge companies, and lobbies who are looking for short-term economic rentability (growth), whereas humanity and politics should look for long-term sustainability. We could use technology, and rule of laws, to reduce the negative influence of technology, or of companies, or of lobbies… We haven’t done it in the past 30 years – how and why should we suddenly change this (even though I believe such a change is more than necessary, our survival, survival of our societies and of our civilisation depend on such a change)? I believe some social platforms may be created where truth and factual news is more prevalent than ‘fake news.’ I do not believe a majority of people will use these platforms. It is easier to believe in the lies than face the truth.”

Barry Parr, technology marketer at Delphix, previously an innovator and analyst in online journalism, said, “Civic and social innovation depends on spheres that are less influenced by technology and more by people and money: health care, social insurance, increased democracy, accountability, antitrust. There will be substantial civic and social innovation, but it will be independent of technology. Technology will not drive innovation; social and economic changes will drive it.”

Bernie Hogan, senior research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, said, “The question that technology will contribute to or prevent new social and civic innovations is a false dichotomy. Of course technology will be used as a part of civic society. Further, the organisational power of any neo-luddite movement or reactionary movement would be profoundly hampered without technology. The matter is that it is not enough. Technology warps scales in favour of those who can wield the technology. It has always been the case, from the gun, the stirrup, the telephone and now the internet. This time, however, technology is operating on scales that we simply do not comprehend and cannot meaningfully do so. Google and Facebook can only make inferences about the rankings of their search results and newsfeeds, respectively; they cannot give a clear answer about why precisely one element showed up before another. High frequency trading algorithms are similarly abstract and opaque. Thus, last generation poster boys for civic engagement, such as Ushahidi, are admirable. In the face of Facebook’s (intentional or not) decimation of local news, most projects like FireChat for distributed communication, Tor for anonymous browsing and so forth represent a drop in the bucket. The notion that we are either going to have ‘no change’ or substantial improvement is remarkably rosy. We are much more likely to have increased inequality, greater more effective propaganda and dissent codified and monitored. We will see some change in data security. Mostly we will see advances in health, particularly in areas where big data classification is useful such as detecting drug interactions, classifying genes and so forth. In areas that require extensive human coordination, we are only likely to see more attempts at control and centralisation along with the march of stark inequality.”

Brandt Dainow, whose research specialty is ethical aspects of information and communications technology innovation over next 30 years, said, “You gave me impossible choices. There should have been a fourth ‘tech will significantly impact innovation but the net effect will be neither positive or negative, merely different.’ Tech will be central to innovation, but the net effect will neither mitigate nor exacerbate. It could do either and will do both. The result will be the outcome of competition between users of the tech. It would appear this survey is undermined by technological determinist premises.”

Carol Chetkovich, professor emeritus of public policy at Mills College, said, “You need to have a fourth response category in your closed-ended questions, which would be ‘technology will have both positive and negative effects’ (not the same as no effect). Also, it would be helpful if you provided a definition for the term ‘innovation.’ I’m not sure if all change is innovation, but I do think change will happen, and some of it will be prosocial, because some good, smart, caring people are working for that. That’s not the same thing as saying I think we’ll see all kinds of ‘new groups, systems and tools,’ though undoubtedly there will be some of that. I find it puzzling and somewhat disturbing that we seem to be looking so hard for technical changes that will somehow help us repair our condition, when it seems that we’re in pretty serious need of an intellectual+spiritual evolution. Technology is very important as a set of tools to get certain things done (e.g., hack-resistant but widely accessible voting processes) but the tool doesn’t *drive* the performance; it just facilitates it (or perhaps inhibits negative interference with the performance). There are areas in which technical fixes are very important (e.g., in doing less environmental damage), but it’s harder to see a technical fix for problems in the working of our democracy. Again, the idea of ‘innovation’ solving our problems seems incorrect to me. We desperately need a reorientation, in which we all become more invested in collective outcomes and collaborative processes, but it’s hard to see what kind of innovation would produce that (though the shift itself would be revolutionary). If I’m pressed to imagine a social or civic innovation, I might think of something like political problem-solving using the citizen jury model (and civic dialogue in general). The citizen jury model would be innovative in the sense of being outside our norm, but not innovative in the sense of being brand new. I do think if we could structure our lives to include more attention to community, we might innovate. But I don’t see an *innovation* causing us to restructure our lives in a more communal direction.”

Dan Gillmor, technology writer and director, Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Arizona State University, commented, “This will cut both ways, but it’s difficult at the moment to imagine how reformers can win against the overwhelming power of centralized control. As Zeynep Tufecki observed in her recent book, power learns.”

Daniel Rogers, expert on disinformation and co-founder, Global Disinformation Initiative, wrote, “The problems catalyzing ‘techlash’ won’t be solved by technology. Perhaps there will be places where technology will help, or be used to implement solutions, but fundamentally these problems will be solved by policy, diplomacy and civil society interventions. I remain cautiously optimistic that human resiliency will prevail before these problems destroy our ability to solve them, but only time will tell for sure. Some examples of the kind of interventions we could hope for would be strong privacy regulation at the federal level, antitrust actions against large tech platform players, strong diplomatic interventions in the areas of cybersecurity and counter-disinformation, and civil society interventions within the tech community around issues such as content moderation and platform governance standards.”

Danya Glabau, interim director of Science and Technology Studies, Tandon School of Engineering, New York University, and author of the report “Hate in Social Virtual Reality,” said, “This is a terrible and misleading set of answers to this question! Come on! Look at this failure of parallel structure: ‘Technology use will contribute to social and civic innovation that significantly mitigates problems of the digital age | Technology use will prevent social and civic innovation from significantly overcoming the negatives of the digital age.’ Technology DESIGN COULD contribute to social and civic innovation. Technology USE is irrelevant. And there is no guarantee – no ‘WILL’ – because as I said it’s ultimately about humans. But mainly, you should really be ashamed of this question. ‘Will contribute to’ versus ‘will prevent,’ come on. This category of ‘social and civic innovation’ is meaningless jargon and ‘innovation change’ is repetitive. I don’t understand how ‘social and civic innovation change’ is different from just… ‘change.’ Is the straw man opposition technological change? In that case I reject the premise of this set of questions altogether because at the end of the day, technology is made by people and encodes the interests of the people who make it, not some mysterious, other-than-human power. It was also hard to answer these questions because these are not independent factors, and some of the questions provide the context for others. For example, for meaningful change around worker rights and protections concerning emerging digital technologies, you need more limits on corporate power. Same goes for physical health – without curbing the power of the health insurance industry (or eliminating it), all other forms of social, civic and technological change are not going to improve anybody’s life.”

David Eaves, public policy entrepreneur expert in information technology and government, first education director for Code for America, now a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said, “My sense is that this question is somewhat perplexing. Technology will impede and cause social and civic innovation. People will be using technology to suppress others voices and impede organizations from engaging in reforms, while others will be using technology to drive change.”

Denise N. Rall, academic researcher of popular culture, Southern Cross University, New South Wales, Australia, said, “Social and civic innovation will be held hostage to environmental degradation and the global scramble among the economic powers to secure scarcer and scarcer resources. The only area in which I would envision substantial innovation is around health systems – such as individualised gene cancer treatments and other treatments for those able to afford them. As I have indicated, world population growth and the scarcity of natural resources will dominate the next decade. Unless Google and other tech companies can substantially reduce population, we are stuck in an untenable position to support the world’s economies that are fixed on growth and the inevitable fact that growth will no longer be possible.”

Dick Hardt, entrepreneur and well-known speaker on digital life and politics, said, “Some technologies will have a positive impact on social and civic innovation. Other technologies will have a negative impact. In the end, the technology will not be a major factor in social and civic innovation. New thinking and observations will be the major factor in social and civic innovation.”

Gary M. Grossman, associate director of programs and associate professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, commented, “My best judgment is that the net effect will be zero in 10 years.”

Ian O’Byrne, assistant professor of education at the College of Charleston, wrote, “I see this as a balancing act. Net positives will occur, but these will be counteracted by bad actors in online, offline and unseen spaces. Ultimately, we are regularly naive when we consider the power and equality that may be wrought by technology, yet not conscientious enough to ensure this comes to fruition. Technological, social and civic innovation will be led by educators as they increasingly recognize and educate, advocate and empower youth as they engage in digital and social spaces. Developers and entrepreneurs will create new platforms and tools to make this easier to utilize. Even with these gains, developers and corporations will seek to maintain market advantage, collect/sell data on users and obfuscate when exposed. Users will in turn continue to move to affinity spaces and siloed discussion spaces where they interact with individuals with similar beliefs. The same (and new, worse) dangers will continue to exist. I believe that multiple factors are needed to enact positive change in civic and social innovation as it relates to technology and discourse systems, the first of which is education. We need individuals that understand and value digital texts and tools, problematize them and envision a better possible future. They need to instill this in future generations. This also requires that collectively, we all examine the role and purpose of these digital texts and tools in our daily practices, and actively choose to make better, possibly tougher decisions.”

J.A. English-Lueck, distinguished fellow, Institute for the Future; co-founder of the Silicon Valley Cultures Project, said, “Social movements are the most impactful of the mechanisms for cultural change, and communications technologies can accelerate such movements’ ability to gather members. New technologies that enhance immersion and empathy, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, are particularly powerful. It is important to remember that social movements that foment change do not all head in the same direction. For example, civil rights activists and white supremacists co-exist, and represent radically different perspectives on the dilemma of multicultural America. The dark side of the change-fomenting technologies is the fragmentation that will unfold as different communities deepen their commitment to a particular form of change and the distances between communities broaden. A 10-year horizon for social change is not much time. We have barely begun to engage in informed, evidence-based discussions about the impacts of technology. The data we do have is about the current, less-immersive technologies and not the ones on the horizon. I think it unlikely we will have fully engaged with the implications of these technologies in a mere decade.”

Jennifer deWinter, professor of humanities, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said, “It will have tremendous effects, simultaneously positive and negative. 2030 might be too soon for the full social correction, but technologies are allowing wealth to be concentrated to an unprecedented extent. If internet and social technologies are the information rail system of the 21st century, then we can look to historical examples on how wealth and systems are disrupted while still maintaining the technological system – agriculture and land rights of the 14th century, rail and mass transportation of the late 19th/early 20th century. It is not about the technological system; it’s about the human interactions/systems dialogically shaped within those technological systems and ways to reconfigure relationships between one another and with human created systems.”

Benjamin Shestakofsky, University of Pennsylvania, a researcher focused on the impact of digital life on labor and employment, wrote, “I answered ‘no effect’ on the previous page because I don’t think any of the options adequately capture what is most likely to occur, i.e. both outcomes simultaneously. In some ways, social and civic innovation that takes advantage of technology is likely to emerge. For example, in 2016 we saw presidential debate formats change to feature the voices of voters. By 2030, new technological tools may emerge that allow voters to fact-check political speech in real time. New apps may also facilitate processes of direct democracy by making it easier for voters to participate in participatory budgeting processes. Of course, technology may also prevent the emergence of social and civic innovation. For example, the emergence of deepfakes may undercut collective belief in the ‘truth’ of public figures’ speech. I am hopeful that legislators and regulators will work to mitigate the vulnerabilities associated with technological disruption in the workplace. Many potential solutions area readily available, but at the moment remain politically fraught. The threats posed by digital labor platforms that undermine labor standards can be mitigated by implementing laws and regulations that guarantee all workers a fair wage and access to health care and other benefits already available to full-time employees. Societies can also mitigate the disparate impact of algorithmic decision-making systems on the most vulnerable workers by updating and enforcing existing anti-discrimination legislation. Given ongoing political gridlock at the federal level, much-needed policy interventions are most likely to arise at the state and local levels.”

Jennifer Jarratt, co-principal of Leading Futurists LLC, wrote, “All of the responses in Q6 are true. Social change will occur anyway; deliberate efforts at social change may be less successful. Technological change is in some ways much easier because it often comes with the promise of enhancing people’s day-to-day lives. Deliberate social change is less able to do this. Some may benefit. Others don’t. Also, governments and reformers don’t always consider the unexpected consequences of change. However, 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.”

John Pike, director and founder of GlobalSecurity.org, said, “The impact will be a mixed bag, with some things getting better and others worse, and it is too soon to judge the net effect. Social change requires organized social movements, and these seem to be increasingly scarce. Social change requires a coherent policy agenda, which in the old days was simple, and now that the world is increasingly diversified, the agenda is fragmented and unstable. Ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam was pretty simple, and enduring. Recalling Nike sneakers with Betsy Ross flags is neither simple nor enduring. I am all in favor of ‘woke’ [it used to be spelled Aufklärung], but if Americans no longer have a usable history from 1776, at what point did our history become usable? 1866? 2008? This will never be answered, because the Twitterverse will be off to the next trending trend. We are now in the Second Gilded Age, dominated by a small number of stupendous companies. In the First Gilded Age the railway trust oppressed farmer, and Robber Barons oppressed all kinds of folks, but eventually after a few decades that economic model was overthrown and collapsed. In principle, the Second Gilded Age should also end within a few decades. But at least the farmers could name their problem and organize for a solution. But today, how many people realize that Google is slanting search results to maximize revenue, rather than return the ‘best’ results?? In the 1990s very few people understood the Microsoft operating system monopoly, and that was simple compared with the toxic algorithms of today. Bryan could campaign for Free Silver, but what is the comparable demand today?”

Kathleen M. Carley, director, Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems, Carnegie Mellon University, said, “Technology use will both contribute to and prevent innovation and successful civic response to the problems emerging in digital media. Technology designed without the end user in mind, that does not take policy into account from the start, and that is developed from a pure technology focus will only create new problems. Computational social science and computational policy need to be brought to the fore as leaders in developing new social cybersecurity technology and the associated policies. While there is much good will to do things for good, there is still an over-riding economic force to build technologies and engage in innovation just for profit. Moreover, many of the problems are global in nature and can only be solved at a global level. But there is no way to do oversight, enforcement of digital activity at the global level. Within the U.S., substantial change may mean dismantling some of the large corporations – that is unlikely to happen.”

Keith Moore, the author and co-author of several IETF RFCs, said, “I would not say that technology will have no effect on social and civic innovation – but rather, it will be a mixed bag and it’s hard to tell whether the net effect will be positive or negative. Ordinary individuals are already widely attempting to adapt to the ills of new technologies. Ironically, some of these new technologies will play a role in helping them to adapt. But the anti-democratic effects of these new technologies and mega-companies will not easily be overcome, and the laws and technological infrastructure are now well-rigged against the interests of individuals.”

Kevin Gross, an independent technology consultant, commented, “Technology has the potential to assist social and civic innovation but such innovation is often perceived as a threat to those that control the technology who will work to dampen such uses of their technology.”

Lawrence Wilkinson, chairman, Heminge & Condell, an investment and strategic advisory firm, and founding president of Global Business Network, the pioneering scenario-planning futures group, wrote, “I marked ‘no effect’ only because there was no way to mark both ‘contribute’ and ‘prevent’ – which is what I expect: a Hegelian dance between tech as a contributor/enabler of change and tech (and tech companies) as a preventer of change. I scored each answer a 6 or a 5 in the ranking section as, while I would love to see more positive outcomes over the next decade or so, I don’t believe that the prerequisite – the social/political will to effect deep, systemic change – is present.”

Mutale Nkonde, adviser on artificial intelligence, Data & Society, and fellow, Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, “Technology alone is a tool. The inability for algorithmic-driven tools to understand the social context means they do not have the capacity to drive civic innovation without significant human intervention.”

Nick Tredennick, engineer, technology innovator and administrator, vice president, Jonetix Corporation, commented, “This is more wishful thinking than a prediction, but I hope that technology’s advance will not destroy social and civic institutions that have developed over millennia. Social and cultural norms that have developed over the centuries are the framework with which technological progress operates. It’s the difference between the carrier and the signal. Social and cultural norms are the carrier and technology progress is the signal; they should not be mixed. I couldn’t answer the ranking questions because the form of the question doesn’t fit the suggested answers. Questions were of the form ‘Will ABC improve XYZ?’ but the answers were of the form ‘No change’ to ‘Big change.’ Suppose I believe that ABC will not improve XYZ. What do I answer? There’s a big difference between ‘will it happen?’ and ‘is it a good thing if it happens?’”

Paul Lindner, a technologist who has worked for several leading innovative technology companies wrote, “Technology both harms and helps. To predict its outcome we need to answer Shoshanna Zuboff’s questions of ‘who knows, who decides and who decides who decides.’ If the answer for this is the citizenry then yes, technology can have a positive impact. If it’s a smaller set of actors, then technology will increasingly be used as a form of control. Feenberg states it well: ‘What human beings are and will become is decided in the shape of our tools no less than in the action of statesmen and political movements.’ The design of technology is thus an ontological decision fraught with political consequences. The exclusion of the vast majority from participation in this decision is profoundly undemocratic. At this point there is a universe of possibilities for how society and technology can interact. There will be change, to be sure. Will technology and society favor hierarchy or egalitarianism? Will technology provide abundance? Or will we have to live with scarcity? The answers to those questions will determine our future.”

Barney Dalgarno, a professor expert in learning in 3D environments, Charles Sturt University, Australia, said, “I said that technology use would have no effect only because the other two options didn’t capture my views. I think there will be a push for innovations and regulations to moderate the negative impacts to privacy and unbiased information distribution, however the vested interests of those who wield political and economic power are likely to prevail. In an environment where information distribution is heavily controlled by those with a vested interest in maintaining their control, I don’t see any pathway to a widespread rebellion against the unregulated internet.”

The following respondents wrote these qualitative remarks after choosing to NOT select any of the three options they were offered when asked to predict the potential effectiveness of social and civic innovation between 2020 and 2030.

Amy Webb, quantitative futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute, wrote, “Of course technology will have an impact, as it always does. Of course there will be innovation. The next-order implications? We can model plausible scenarios. The questions in this survey are quite leading – it seems like you’re trying to get us to describe discreet outcomes for a more dystopian future.”

David Bray, executive director for the People-Centered Internet Coalition, commented, “It is difficult to say that technology will definitely help or harm. The benefits or harms are determined by how we humans choose to use tools and technologies. Fire can be used to cook a meal and thus be helpful. Fire can also be used to harm or destroy. Rocks can help build shelter. Rocks can also be used to injure someone. So the bigger questions worth asking involve how we humans, both individually and in communities, choose to use technologies. Ideally we will use them to uplift individuals. Also tech doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Human laws and narratives also influence outcomes. Our tool use is connected to our use of narratives, laws and technologies to distribute power. Starting with the beginning of history, we used fire and stone tools to make the transition from a nomadic lifestyle to one where our use of ere we began to settle and plant crops. Our use of tools helped give rise to civilization, including the advancement of writing, development of calendars for crops and the start of navigation of the seas. Even before the start of human civilizations, human nature included some aspects where selfish instincts – be they greed, envy or other hurtful elements – challenged the formation of large human communities beyond immediate family members. While some civilizations generated social order through sheer physical force imposed upon other humans, compelling obedience, other civilizations generated social order through an initial system of laws that sought to protect communities from the greed, envy or other hurtful elements of others. Such a system of laws was not developed for purely altruistic reasons; the same system of laws solidified the power of rulers and included different forms of taxation over the labor of their subjects. Laws and the legal process of humans distributed power, and in several cases of early civilizations, solidified the power of community members to compel or oblige other humans to perform certain actions. Laws and the legal process also enabled humans to coexist more peacefully in larger groupings insofar that the distribution of power did not motivate any part of the community to revert to sheer physical force to change this distribution. As human communities grew, so did their use of tools and development of more advanced tools such as metal tools and weapons, bows and arrows, and later both gunpowder and flintlock firearms. Such tools as technological developments had the effect of expanding civilizations and disrupting the distribution of power within societies. Certain new tools as technological advances, such as the assembly line, required new laws to protect individuals from an asymmetrically distribution of power associated with these technologies, such as long work hours in unsafe working conditions. With advances in technologies the ethics of societies also shifted, with embodiment of these changing ethics in new laws – such as laws against child labor. Certain technological developments, like railroads or radio, allowed certain individuals to aggregate power or allowed the distribution of communications across communities that challenged the distribution of power. For some civilizations, these technologies helped highlight discrimination against groups of humans in societies and prompted civil rights laws. The same technologies however also allowed a mob-mentality that failed to uplift humanity in ways that were intended, such as Nazi Germany’s use of ‘People’s Radio’ sets leading up to and during World War II that created dangerous echo chambers of thought during that dangerous time period. As far as ranking the categories goes it might be better to provide a video response – I was invited to deliver the distinguished address for U.N. Charter Day last week; the video is here: http://webtv.un.org/search/united-nations-academic-impact-charter-day-lecture/6052648067001/?term=&lan=english There’s an opening video clip and remarks from the ECOSOC chair before I speak at 17 minutes in on ‘Artificial Intelligence, the Internet and the Future of Data: Where Will We Be in 2045?’ as it relates to the state of the world. My keynote is 45 minutes. It’s a good reminder of the kind of upheaval the world had experienced in the years leading up to 1945 that led to the creation of the United Nations.”

David Sarokin, Sarokin Consulting, author of “Missed Information,” wrote, “It seems obvious that technology will both help and hinder…it’s a mindless tool that can be used for good or ill. Society will continue to respond to concerns with new laws and cultural pressure on companies like Facebook and Google to amend any practices seen as detrimental. From an American standpoint, the most interesting dilemma posed by the internet is the status of free and unfettered speech. People are generally allowed to tell lies, no matter how outrageous, and other people are entitled to believe them, no matter how ridiculous. There’s no easy framework for deciding when a false statement crosses the line into an unacceptable post on social media. I probably should have left series of rankings questions blank, as I don’t really understand what they mean. The change that I hope will occur, and that could make a small but meaningful difference in the personal finances of millions of people, has to do with monetization of the internet. Information aggregators collect reams of data on individuals as they surf the web. People are repeatedly and unpleasantly surprised at the extent of data collection and on data breaches that reveal personal information. Some of this disaffection could be mitigated if companies paid people for use of their personal information. A system of micropayments (perhaps based on a cybercurrency like bitcoin or Facebook’s upcoming Libra) could make this possible.”

Angela Campbell, professor of law and co-director, Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown University, said, “I think there will be efforts to address the social and civic impacts of technology, but they may not be sufficient. In particular, I am concerned about the impact of overuse or over-reliance on technology with respect to children and teens. I am concerned about the safety of children online, not just from predators but from peers (bullying). Overuse may also contribute to physical maladies such as obesity, bad posture, eye problems, ADHD, insufficient sleep and even addiction. While technology and internet can help to educate older children (not preschoolers who need to interact with humans and objects), it needs to be selected and used carefully and should not subject children to commercialism or invade their privacy. My other major concerns are job loss and discrimination. It seems inevitable that many jobs will be eliminated by technology, and while technologies may generate new jobs, I suspect there will be fewer jobs and those that remain will require certain skills. It will be important, all difficult, to ensure that everyone is able to have employment and to make enough to live at a reasonable level. As competition for jobs increases, I am also worried about how big data allows hidden discrimination in education, health and employment. It usually takes a long time for laws to change, as well as social norms. Ten years is a very short time to expect significant social change, especially in a country where the population is so diverse and polarized. At the same time, technology can change very fast. So it is hard for law (and society) to adjust to these changes. Often we are facing issues that have not been addressed before (e.g. big data) and so the solutions are far from clear. It may be made even more difficult, given that the major technology companies have such large market shares and are vertically integrated, thus making new entry and innovation harder. This problem is magnified because almost all other sectors of the economy depend on technology.”

Barbara Simons, highly respected past president of the Association for Computing Machinery, commented, “I could not answer the questions, because there was no option of ‘it depends.’ The bottom line is that climate change will dominate everything else. I would hope that people will finally start addressing climate change as the enormous threat that it is, but it’s hard to keep up hope with all that is happening today. As far as I’m concerned, this survey is pretty irrelevant since it doesn’t take into account the possibility of global catastrophe.”

Dave Burstein, editor and publisher at Fast Net News, said, “I don’t know; too complicated for a firm opinion. I’m very skeptical of positive change.”

Ian Fish, information and communications technology professional and specialist in information security based in Europe, said, “The options do not include what I believe to be most likely. That is that technology use will contribute to social and civic innovation but that it will not significantly mitigate the harms. The reason for this is that those who are either deliberately or as a side effect causing the harms are far more agile than civil society and infinitely more agile than the law and regulation. Essentially my previous answer covers this. There will be positive change but it will be much slower than the negative change in the same area. The only area where I think that this will not be the case is in physical health and this is because (with the exception of a few extremely high net worth individuals) it will not be worth criminals or state actors targeting the technology so it is possible that the majority can benefit. Where I have ticked the ‘no change’ answer it should actually be further to the left as I do expect substantial negative change to occur. Did you really mean ‘modulate’ in slide 8? Modulate can mean either positive or negative effects and so I took the general tenor of the other questions and decided that you meant ‘moderate.’”

Ian Peter, a pioneering internet rights activist, wrote, “I find this question difficult. I do expect significant innovation to occur, but I do not expect that per se it will either solve or mitigate problems. Non-technical initiatives may be more likely to have an effect. There is no doubt at all that big data gathering has the potential to allow significant improvements in areas such as medical research – so it’s not all bad! However, the unregulated surveillance economy regards personal data as a commodity to be shared for profit, and large industry players using a transboundary network cannot be easily regulated by over 190 nation states acting unilaterally. This dilemma allows for unregulated monopoly behaviour, which may regard ethical behaviour as secondary to corporate profitability.”

Jean Seaton, professor and director of the Orwell Foundation, University of Westminster, commented, “I could not answer because it seems to me it is all up in the air. We may sort something. We may re-configure democracy so that it is evidently in the interests of all. We are all more involved so that is good. There may be new initiatives thee[AB1]  may be a way forward. But it is uncertain. It will take will, ingenuity, bravery. But we face really very considerable problems. The enlightenment project of light and truth as a necessary, not an optional, moral good may still be true (I do not see how you can launch a rocket or turn on a light or create a new solution to malaria without that premise) but it may be being overturned. Societies and the world do not have to get better. George Orwell said that ‘liberal values are not indestructible; they may have to be defended.’ That seems right. If you took China – one might have thought that it would become more democratic. But it has got less democratic and richer, more sinisterly willing to control its citizens and more willing to buy them off. While everything is run on the model of viral advertising (you get more of what you already want, encounter less and less of what you do not know you might want and less and less of what you need to make up your mind in an independent and informed way) then the sheer logic of the model will go on driving us to extremes and delusion. The decline of deference has always been seen as a good thing. It is replaced by a hidden obedience – hidden even to the subjects themselves. The decline of shame seems like a good thing as well. I am no longer so sure. As some things needed deference (well-based views, evidence) and a bit of shame seemed to keep our leaders within moral bounds. I expect to see new ways of consulting populations that are more like deliberative assemblies, i.e., not referendums but carefully fully informed and scrupulously fair and principled in the ways the deliberations take place, ways of taking informed collective decisions. These would be really significant. I expect some ways of interpreting and controlling algorithms in the public interest to develop.”

Jeanne Dietsch, a New Hampshire state senator and pioneer innovator of affordable robotics, wrote, “Technological innovation creates tools that are used to achieve the ends of those who create and/or can access it. The values of those people, the relative power of people seeking democracy versus oligarchy, will determine how technology is used. This question asks us to make political and economic projections. I do not believe that anyone can accurately do that. We are in the midst of a chaotic equation and the butterfly effect may determine the outcome. These questions are poorly composed. The content of the questions, except for the physical health one, asks whether technology will work toward a given value system. The answer scale asks whether there will be no change versus definite change. I think that either the sliding scale should say ‘greatly less beneficial’ to ‘greatly more beneficial.’ There will unquestionably be change in every case. Regarding job displacement, it all depends on whether UIs[AB2]  empower content professionals in each field to increase innovation or the technology remains bound to techies, out of the hands of those with the ability to dream new uses that create new industries.”

John Harlow, smart city research specialist, Engagement Lab, Emerson College, said, “I didn’t choose one of the three choices offered, because I think that technology will both support and prevent social and civic innovation. Social media will help social and civic groups organize, but also help governments oppress dissidents. Open government, open innovation, crowdlaw, etc., have promise, and draw on technology for social and civic innovation, but I think technology will mostly prevent those innovations from achieving scale. In particular, status quo legacy systems will exhibit inertia and path dependence, and the digital divide between generations will prevent rapid, widespread adoption of social and civic innovation. It’s not necessarily that technology will inhibit these innovations, but that facility with new technology among the constituency who might adopt it could be low. My baseline in ranking the possible future of the categories you present is that speculation beyond a five-year future is highly unreliable, so any thoughts I have about 2030 are as such. Mostly, I think it’s responsible to choose ‘5’ or ‘no idea’ unless these issues seem decided. For example, I don’t see an emerging business model that would support the re-emergence of vibrant, diverse local news and journalism without breaking the Google/Facebook advertising duopoly, so no change likely there, at least by 2030, in my opinion. As for new social media, and trust in democratic institutions, I think we have a good 40 years of data on how the internet has evolved. We have what we want, at a base behavioral level: steady supply of neurologically reliable serotonin hits and aggregators into walled gardens of content to ensure our media diet reinforces our existing ideas and values. I don’t think this is desirable at the level of societal reflection, but I think it is desirable from the standpoint of profiting from people’s day-to-day behavior… and I doubt that changes in 10 years.”

Karl Auerbach, chief technology officer, InterWorking Labs, active in internet design since the early 1970s, said, “There will be much innovation in modes of communication. However, unless people are trained to think clearly, articulate clearly and advocate their positions clearly and with force, then we will be all simply yelling past one another. Liberal arts – even the old study of rhetoric – are needed for people to effectively use the new tools that will be created. I do not have great hopes for this, particularly with all the emphasis on STEM and the denigration of liberal arts at every level of our educational systems. Over the proscenium at Royce Hall at UCLA are the words, ‘Education is learning to use the tools which the race has found indispensable.’ Our abandonment of liberal arts and the skills of conversation and debate are greatly reducing our ability to use any new technical tools that our race may create.”

Philip J. Salem, professor emeritus, Texas State University, expert in complexity of organizational change, said, “Every new technology creates its own unique challenges in addition to solving some problems and failing to prevent others. I am cautiously optimistic. I am afraid digital technology has already sacrificed one generation, but I think the current generation is more skeptical and cautious.”

Tomslin Samme-Nlar, consultant in technology security and policy based in Cameroon, wrote, “I don’t think the social and civic innovation will ‘significantly mitigate problems of the digital age’ by 2030, but I definitely see technology use contributing to social and civic innovation. The kind of innovation I expect to see are new educational systems and methods of educating citizens of their digital rights. I also expect to see new legislative and normative tools that protect netizens and even nation states in cyberspace.”

Zizi Papacharissi, professor of communication and political science, University of Illinois-Chicago, responded, “I did not select a response option to the previous question. The questions are structured in a rather deterministic manner, that presents technology as a force external to humanity. That is OK; I understand that you need to ask the questions in a manner that is relatable to a broader public. Two things: 2030 is a mere 10 years away. It is unlikely that we will see change to civic and social processes so quickly. We may see changes in the technology we use; these will not translate into deeper change. Change is gradual. It is possible that we will see some changes to our routines, prompted by technology use. Those will reflect superficial change and not deeper transformation of a civic or social nature. Also, technology is not something external to us, that contributes, prevents or is neutral. It is human. It is designed by us, it is part of us and it is influenced by our beliefs. Any changes will stem from core adjustments to our value system, which is dated. It supports the habits of societies that formed centuries ago. It is our value system (economic, political, social, cultural) that needs restructuring, and is actually in the process of evolving. Until this process is complete, we will not observe actual change.”

To read the full report on the Future of Social and Civic Innovation between 2020 and 2030, click here:

To read the anonymous responses to the questions, click here: