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“Unequal access to technology: what can we learn from smartphones?” (50min)
David Wood   Nov 26, 2014   Aft Technoprog  

The smartphone industry has made a remarkable impact on numerous aspects of human life, and can be seen as a foretaste of what might be achieved by emerging new technologies of human enhancement. Core smartphone technology frequently dropped in price, making benefits available to people in all social classes worldwide. But other examples of high tech products suggest disturbing ‘winner takes all’ scenarios, in which benefits are far from evenly spread. For example, Instagram, with only 13 employees, was purchased by Facebook for $1B in 2012, implying an average employee productivity 2,000 times greater than that of another photography company, Kodak, at the peak of its valuation. And large pharmaceutical companies prioritise the development of expensive drugs that only people in rich countries can afford.

What can social futurists, technoprogressives, and transhumanists learn from these different sorts of example? The speaker worked at the heart of the smartphone industry for more than two decades, and closely observed the real-world factors that resulted in both project success and project failure. As the speaker will explain, many of the same principles apply for transhumanist projects too. Examples are taken from the speaker’s recently published book ‘Smartphones and beyond’.

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