Building Towards Resiliency with Healthy Digital Ecosystems

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Media Outlet: Meeting of The Minds

Greta Byrum wrote for Meeting of The Minds about the ways we can better design, build, control, and distribute communications systems:

“Often the most holistic ideas come from places with fewer resources, where people think about how technology and media can support solutions rooted in their communities” – Diana Nucera, Detroit Community Technology Project

We are only starting to understand the power of networked technologies. And our learning comes at a cost: we are increasingly divided in our increasingly interconnected world. The internet has become balkanized: we absorb information in echo chambers of affinity and animosity, and argue over whose reality will rule the day. The power of algorithms amplifies the most divisive rhetoric, which is often the least anchored in truth and the public interest. Meanwhile, bad actors with digital privilege prey upon this unhealthy digital ecosystem, exploiting the uninitiated.

As someone who has fought for years to connect the unconnected, I am increasingly ambivalent about hyper-connectivity, the Internet of Things, smart devices and intelligent objects. We seem to be inadvertently creating a dystopian future with our technologies. We’ve already seen pervasive flaws, weaknesses, and attacks on smart devices, with no real plan for regulating them to protect safety and security, especially at the global level. Moreover, even when these technologies work as intended, they extract our personal data and make it possible to put our most private selves up for sale or capture.

Author:

Greta Byrum is the director of the Resilient Communities program at New America. She reimagines the way we design, build, and manage communications systems to support local residents as leaders, organizers, and preparedness experts.