Technology is the great equalizer, we are told. Technology will save us all, we are told. It might be assumed that ownership of more technology creates more social mobility and a better life.
The reality is that we are seeing reduced quality-of-life across the board whether you measure it by health or wealth.
Shift Sight believes that technological equity, not equality, is a way to better society. Keep reading to learn more.
If technology leads to a better quality-of-life, one might mistakenly conclude that those in poverty simply do not have enough technology to help themselves. We may even see some news outlets proclaim that there is a vicious cycle wherein the inability to acquire technology is one reason that the impoverished are unable to get ahead.
Let's look close to home.
This country has the largest income gap in its history. We also have technology giants that overshadow society. (Thirty years ago, these giants might have been the target of a DOJ intervention due to their size and reach.)
On the net worth spectrum, those in poverty are opposite the big tech companies. Tech behemoth, meet family A.
People that are struggling to pay for food, housing, child care, and health care – the cost of some of these have been rising faster than the rate of inflation – are not screaming for newer and faster smartphones. If technology was more affordable, perhaps we would have less poverty?
There is no discernible relationship between technology availability and lifting oneself out of poverty*.
No amount of self-determination will lift people out of poverty either. On average, one person now needs to work 122 hours per week at minimum wage to be able to afford modest housing.
Under the rules of our current socioeconomic systems, the clearest way to get out of poverty is to have the opportunities for education. Whether or not you have these opportunities is due to your birth lottery.
Employers have little interest in whether or not you had an iPad at home or a Chromebook in school. Having a diploma of some flavor is the first box that they tick.
The opportunity for education, not technology, is one factor that affects this rising income gap. Marketing technology as a means to close this gap is profiteering.
* Industry-funded studies have tried to correlate Internet access with better learning outcomes that then lead to better employment options. There is no correlation between Internet access and learning outcomes; it mostly enables faster research. There is an overwhelming body of independent evidence that technology frequently impedes learning, creativity, memorization, and critical thinking.
As designed, Jade does not carry the problems of its contemporaries: it is very different from the technology that frequently makes worrisome headlines.
The Great Equalizer
We are told that we must get technology into schools, especially underfunded ones, so that students can all have a better education. Technology is the great equalizer, and equality is good for all!
(If you are just joining this blog, it may help if you know that the companies peddling this line also have employees that send their children to private schools that reject edtech.)
Technology companies love this storyline. They want to sell you the great equalizer! They want you to believe that their technology leads to happiness, better learning, or a better quality-of-life. Especially for your children.
Let's talk about the results of decades of forcing technology into classrooms:
Technology in classrooms is not reducing that 122 hour per week figure; it is concentrating wealth with big corporations. It is creating digital addictions and reducing our innate capabilities. It is inadvertently teaching children that electronics are disposable.
Outcomes are a result of an individual's circumstances (birth lottery, including poverty) and their challenges. It is also a result of the educational opportunities they are afforded. Pushing technology into classrooms has evolved into an exercise in spying on children and creating customers for life.
Shift Sight believes in equity over equality. Equality does not contribute to social mobility. Equity can better the lives of all involved. A diagram, available midway down this page, explains the difference. My interpretation of this image:
Current edtech is similar to the equality image on that page. Every student receives a computer, but it does not necessarily contribute to their individual success. This is because the technology is not humane; it takes more than it gives, and it requires the user to actively determine what is being lost.
I could successfully argue that a lot of the edtech on the market is detrimental to students. These products are not a crate at all. They are a hole in the ground. The students with the most edtech have dug in deep.
As I've written before, Jade is humane technology. There is nothing else like it on the market. By employing Montessori principles in a unique context, combined with patent-pending technology, it develops the individual. It builds creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. It is non-addictive fun.
Jade is not a substitute for a diploma or a teacher, but it is a variable level of scaffolding to ensure that children can succeed.
Jade and Shift Sight represent technological equity: supporting individual development regardless of what opportunities you have been afforded and what challenges you are facing.
There is no pay-by-the-month subscription plan. The skills you develop will translate to many other facets of life; they are not tied to the latest fads in technology.
As a triple-bottom-line company, I want to give Jade to as many schools that serve low-income students as possible. I would happily take pay cuts – the spirit of equity – if it can help lift people out of poverty. Long-term, Shift Sight would like to support local schools to improve learning outcomes and graduation rates.
I do not know what the future of employment looks like, but there will be some decent paying jobs that do not require a degree. They will want individuals that are creative problem-solvers with strong analytic skills: precisely what Jade will cultivate.
I truly hope that Jade and Shift Sight can be a vehicle for lifting people out of poverty where possible.
See you next week!
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.