Tom Friedman: Blame Technology for Recent Social Upheaval

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 15 2011 12:16 PM

Tom Friedman: Blame Technology for Recent Social Upheaval

108426748
Photo Illustration by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

In his New York Times column yesterday, Tom Friedman argued that technology is responsible for the riots in England, the Tea Party’s rise in the United States, the protests in Spain, the revolutions in the Middle East—but not for the tired “social media allows us to organize” reasons. Or, at least, not just because Twitter and smartphones make it easier to coordinate protests and looting alike.

Friedman writes, “The merger of globalization and I.T. is driving huge productivity gains, especially in recessionary times, where employers are finding it easier, cheaper and more necessary than ever to replace labor with machines, computers, robots and talented foreign workers.” Meanwhile, social media has allowed for the “globalization of anger.” And, yes, of course, smartphones and Twitter have also made it easier to plan expressions of that anger at the economic doldrums I.T. hath wrought for those of us not in charge.

Advertisement

It’s an interesting attempt to connect various I.T. and global trends, but I wonder: Now what? Illuminating the nexus between the rise in technology and the rise of unrest is just the first step. What, exactly, can we do about it, short of sabotaging innovation as an artificial means of creating stability?

Read more in the New York Times.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.