Dignity in a digital age Making tech work for all of us

Ro Khanna

Book - 2022

"Rep Ro Khanna offers a revolutionary roadmap to facing America's digital divide. In Khanna's vision, "just as people can move to technology, technology can move to people. People need not be compelled to move from one place to another to reap the benefits offered by technological progress" (from the foreword by Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics)"--

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New York, NY : Simon & Schuster 2022.
Main Author
Ro Khanna (author)
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Physical Description
xi, 354 pages ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Foreword / by Amartya Sen
  • Democratizing the digital revolution
  • Part I: Twenty-first-century economy
  • Building community
  • Racial and gender equity
  • Empowering workers
  • Progressive capitalism
  • Part II: Twenty-first-century citizenship
  • Internet Bill of Rights
  • Deliberation online
  • Science in democracy
  • Decentralizing foreign policy
  • Democratic patriotism.
Review by Booklist Review

Technology is getting a bad rap these days. Social media discourse is deepening political and philosophical divides, while the industry's economic strength seems to be concentrated in a few insulated communities. Most famous of them all is Silicon Valley, home to California's Seventeenth Congressional District, represented by Khanna. Khanna knows Big Tech the way representatives from Iowa know agriculture. As such, he is both passionate advocate and pragmatic legislator for an industry that is as frequently maligned as it is celebrated. There is no doubt that technology holds the key to America's economic and political futures, but the doors that key unlocks are frequently narrow, forbidding, and controversial. In this deeply considered and precisely detailed examination of technology's impact on the country's financial future and emotional present, Khanna presents policy initiatives that aim to bring civility back to public discourse, both online and in person, and to level the employment playing field. With both anecdotal accounts and factual evidence, Khanna champions the responsible use of technology to improve lives and unite factions.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

U.S. congressman Khanna, whose California district includes Silicon Valley, debuts with a well-reasoned and articulate plan for reforming the tech industry. Noting that "nearly 50 percent of digital service jobs... are in ten major metro centers," Khanna explains his legislative proposal to create 10 new technology hubs around the country and contends that the wide-scale shift to remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic proves that tech jobs can be moved to such regions as eastern Kentucky, where a program called Interapt is offering tech training to supplement the decline in coal mining jobs. Khanna also details the alienating experiences of people of color working in tech and offers tenable approaches to making the industry more diverse, including targeted outreach and training through HBCUs. Elsewhere, he outlines suggestions for an "Internet Bill of Rights" that would protect users' data and increase tech companies' transparency, argues for a reallocation of funds from "bloated defense spending" to protecting against cyberattacks, and calls for wider public participation in government policy. Though he glosses over the steps for achieving some of these reforms, Khanna has a nuanced take on the tech industry and offers genuine solutions to significant problems plaguing the country. This commonsense call for change should win the congressman plenty of new supporters. (Feb.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

Students without computers. Workers whose jobs cannot be done remotely. Individuals anywhere lacking reliable WIFI. The digital divide looms large, and it amplifies the economic inequality rivening U.S. society in particular. Khanna, who represents the Silicon Valley region in the House of Representatives, wants to show how we can democratize digital innovation to strengthen economic opportunity for everyone. He calls it progressive capitalism. As Nobel laureate Amartya Sen explains in the foreword, "Just as people can move to technology, technology can move to people."

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A legislator shares his thoughts on how to close our many digital divides. Rep. Khanna, a Democrat, serves a Northern California district that's home to big tech companies like Google and Apple, and while he respects their financial might, he is understandably skeptical of their libertarian rhetoric about technology alone resolving social and economic conflicts. Facebook supported his skepticism, with its promotion of misinformation and online divisiveness, not to mention its struggles with privacy. The author, who served as Obama's deputy assistant secretary of commerce, explores a wide range of issues tied to the tech industry: tech-job creation in rural America, racism and sexism within Silicon Valley, wage gaps, science-education funding, electric vehicles, antitrust, artificial intelligence, competition from China, and more. Khanna is a genial and clearheaded guide to these challenges, and he thoughtfully offers the occasional personal anecdote to contextualize specific problems, relating his visits to rural communities skeptical of tech interlopers making outsize promises or his own experiences with racism. Ultimately, he seeks an America that pays everyone decently, preserves communities, and protects internet users from exploitation and disinformation, and he bolsters his arguments with ideas from big thinkers such as Amartya Sen (who provides the foreword), Martha Nussbaum, and Tim Berners-Lee. The narrative centerpiece, an "Internet Bill of Rights," is an admirable effort to codify those ideas. But the book is effectively a cascade of policy prescriptions: Dozens of sentences are teed up with phrasing like "we must," "we need," or "we should," followed by recommendations regarding programs for tax credits, affordable housing, student laptops, and more. None are particularly objectionable, but eventually, the prose takes on the stiff and earnest feel of a stump speech. It's less a book to be read than to be scanned through by politicos empathetic to Khanna's politics--or tech lobbyists gathering opposition information. Written on behalf of the common man but best digested by policy wonks. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.