The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program’s 21st annual Roundtable on Information Technology assembled a diverse group of thinkers, leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. It focused on the topics of rapid technological innovation, networking and automation. The results of the Roundtable were released this month in Power-Curve Society: The Future of Innovation, Opportunity and Social Equity in the Emerging Networked Economy.
The report explores big data and the coming personal data revolution, and whether multiplying reservoirs of personal data will be used to benefit individuals as consumers and citizens. The report also addresses growing concern about the technological displacement of jobs, stagnant middle class income, and rising economic inequality. It questions why networks often produce power-curve distributions, in which the bulk of wealth is distributed to those at the top, and how these dynamics appear to be eroding the economic security of the middle class.
Ms. Baird noted that we need creative ways to broaden the benefit of innovation like efforts underway to make government data publicly available. She cited Todd Park, the Chief Technology Officer at the White House, who is trying to liberate government data on health, energy and other subjects by making them openly available to all. The idea is to emulate the government’s release of weather information that various business models and research projects use to build innovative new services. Finally, the report presents ways of rethinking entrenched notions of jobs, learning, skills, value and well-being in the digital age. For example, it considers how new technologies are altering work, family and personal life.
Markle’s President, Zoë Baird participated in the roundtable. The report will inform the Markle Initiative for America’s Economic Future in a Connected World. Read the Aspen Institute’s full report at http://as.pn/powercurve.