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Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

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Renewing the Centre

Making Technology Work for People

Technology can enhance the pursuit of freedom and of opportunity, of prosperity and of equality. But the same tools that might be put to emancipatory uses can also entrench prejudice and drive new social divisions.

Faced with the opportunity and the danger of new technologies, the populism that rages today offers only the false comfort of a retreat to the past. But change isn't stopping, and technology can't be uninvented. Instead of seeking to halt the rise of technology, we should seek to shape it in the public interest.

To do so, we need to confront a number of major questions:

  • How will the rise of automation and artificial intelligence change the nature of work, and what new economic and social policies will we need to maximise the benefits and mitigate the downsides?
  • As new digital and data platforms deliver huge but unevenly distributed benefits, how will we ensure that innovation can flourish without entrenching a new generation of excluded people and places?
  • How can we break the paradox of an online world that offers us infinite possibilities to share and connect, and yet narrows our political discourse, reinforces intolerance and undermines evidence-based debate?
  • At a time when confidence in our institutions is so low, and with government still designed for an analogue world, how can we harness new technologies to rebuild more responsive, effective public services?
  • How will we resolve escalating tensions around surveillance, privacy and encryption, tackle the root causes of extremism and online crime, and step away from knee-jerk authoritarianism before it's too late?

Our work will lay out a frank analysis of the economic and social impact of new technologies, and develop policy responses to these questions that are both practical and radical. We will support and inform those seeking to make use of new technologies to enhance the functioning of liberal democracies around the world, and provide an intellectual foundation for dealing optimistically with the economic challenges of automation and the digital economy.

Chris Yiu Senior Policy Fellow for Technology

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