What’s Next for Tech

Where do we look to when we long for change? For a long time now, people have started to lose faith in traditional arenas like government. Instead, people have turned to technology. From Google to Amazon, tech companies have had a tremendous impact on society, transforming how we work, play, and communicate.

But have our hopes been misplaced?

Consider Elon Musk, who was once seen as a self-made visionary. Tesla and SpaceX promised to revolutionise the way we travel, now and in the distant future. Yet a series of alarming events have cast his reputation into doubt. In the span of a few weeks, Musk has had multiple public meltdowns on Twitter, baselessly accused a diver involved in the Thai cave rescue operations a “pedophile”, and invited investigations from regulatory agencies following a failed plan to privatise Tesla. Meanwhile, Tesla continues to bleed money quarter after quarter with no discernible path to profitability amidst reports of human rights abuses.

Now consider Jeff Bezos, whose company Amazon recently struck $1 trillion market cap. Reports after reports unveil questionable practices within its warehouses, where workers are allegedly denied bathroom breaks. One survey suggests that over half of workers have suffered from depression since working at Amazon. In its search for a second headquarters, cities across the US offered tax breaks and other incentives in a bidding war, hoping to boost their local economies. Yet the effect of Amazon on these cities remains uncertain. Many argue that these incentives outweigh any potential benefits that Amazon might offer, while others fear the inevitable gentrification that this move might bring. Don’t forget decades of anti-competitive practices, including its questionable use of patents to force out competitors and even completely removing their products from its website.

 

Protesters gather in London following the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandal

 

These issues are rampant throughout the tech world. On one spectrum, Apple, accused of human rights violations within its supply chains; Facebook, embroiled within “fake news”  and free speech debates; Google, fined €2.42 billion by EU anti-trust regulators; Uber, the poster-child for negative workplace culture. On the other end, Juicero, a startup focused on high-end juice subscriptions, whose products required a proprietary $700 juicer that was ultimately revealed to be unnecessary. Even as startups grow into full-fledged companies, they often remain being seen and treated as if their purpose remains the same, to disrupt. Never mind what needs to be done to fix the mess they leave behind.

Recently, governments have begun to hold tech companies accountable for their decisions. San Francisco decided to temporarily ban ride-share scooters from its streets, a contrast to Uber’s early days. Auckland itself is considering taxing properties used for Airbnb, given its well-documented negative effects on local rental supply. Under public scrutiny, tech companies have conceived plans to improve diversity, doing away with metrics like “personal fit,” often used arbitrarily to justify discriminatory hiring practices.

Technology remains a place where people can, and are, making positive differences. At the same time, we still need to acknowledge its very real shortcomings. Regardless of our attitudes towards tech, as global citizens, we need to hold tech accountable for the decisions it makes, the impact it has, and the values it upholds. If we long for change, instead of looking towards elsewhere, we should begin with ourselves and see our own potential to do good.

 

By Justin Chen

 

A Reflection on the Global Development Tour

With the 2019 delegation of the Global Development Tour being announced, I thought it was a good opportunity to share some of the 2018 delegations experience, in the hope that it can inspire the next delegation and encourage those wanting to apply in the future.

Overview:

In January this year I was fortunate enough to be part of the 2018 Global Development Tour delegation.

We travelled around Europe and to New York learning about global development, international cooperation, and the role the United Nations plays in both. In essence we were shown the world through a future lens – as it could be in 2030, meeting policy makers, businesses and NGOs and being shown how they are working to meet the Global Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Each of the cities we visited represented a theme within the Sustainable Development Agenda and we looked at the SDGs from three different angles; Policy, Business and Community. It was incredibly inspiring to see the work and connectedness of these organisations in different parts of the world.  

We also were very lucky to attend a Model United Nations conference at Columbia University in New York.  CMUNCE hosts delegates from all over the world and it gave us an opportunity to actively participate and engage with like-minded delegates from varied backgrounds and the chance to engage in real-world diplomacy and listen to some fabulous speakers! My role as China on the Security Council debating the situation in Myanmar enabled me to further interact with Human Rights NGO’s and learn about the real work that is being done on the ground.

The trip is a chance to meet new friends and create amazing memories. This has been an incredible life-changing experience and for those, thinking about applying in the future, DO IT, you will not regret it.

 

The 2018 delegation gathers for a photo in front of the United Nations Office at Geneva.

 

Further Reflections from other delegates:

Being one of the few delegates coming new into UN Youth in the GDT group, the trip had very different impacts on me. I had heard of the organisation but had not engaged with the events offered to people my age until the application for the Tour. I was honoured to have been picked from so many outstanding candidates and veterans of the organisation. The Tour changed my life because it opened me up to so many new people and new experiences. On the Tour we met many amazing people doing important jobs to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, people who could make real differences. We had the chance to listen to their past achievements, plans and future goals; while picking their brains and giving our own suggestions. Along the way we got to interact with the landscape of the world, living the cultural and historical differences. Since getting back from the Tour I have strongly kept in touch with others from the delegation as we all embark upon new chapters of our lives. I was inspired to give back to the organisation and enjoy frequently volunteering at UN Youth events, meeting new people and making connections. GDT changed my outlook on sustainable development, helped me make lifelong friends and connected me with an organisation which encourages civics interaction through youth facilitating youth events. It is fair to say my life was clearly changed for the better. 

Emily, 18 Wellington

 

When people call something life-changing they usually mean it in a cliched way, and I guess it’s unfair to say that GDT totally changed my life, but it did make it better and it made me better. I’m now a much more confident, assertive person than I was before embarking on the tour. Seeing the world has given me experience that is directly applicable in the law and arts conjoint I’m studying. GDT was an amazing experience and I’m feeling it’s impact still. I’d recommend it and other UN Youth events for anyone and everyone. It was such a great time.’

Chris, 18 Auckland

 

The Global Development Tour was an incredible experience and something I had dreamed of for a long time. The message that stood out to me the most from our meetings was that development and sustainable development was not an isolated problem that only impacted small parts of the world far away from me, instead if we truly want change and progress, then a concerted united global effort was necessary. This has completely changed how I viewed a number of global issues. Following the tour, I have had the chance to speak to groups about my experience and helped to organise Victoria University’s very first Sustainability Week. But more importantly to me, it has shifted how I talk about international issues such as the health of our waters, gender equality and ending poverty. I have realised that I can make a difference in my own life, in my community and in my country – which all contributes to changing the world and being a global citizen.

Manraj, 18 Wellington

 

By Julia Caulfield

Festival for the Future 2018

Around half of New Zealanders are under the age of thirty-five, yet the average Member of Parliament in this country is in their fifties. Aged 23, Chloe Swarbrick became the youngest MP since Marilyn Waring entered Parliament in 1975. When a government is designed to represent the people it governs, it seems odd that the voices of young people have very little representation at the decision-making table.

I was lucky enough to attend the 2018 Festival for the Future, an event which both celebrates and amplifies the voices of some of Aotearoa’s most inspirational young change-makers. Hearing about the achievements, the accomplishments and the selfless service so many inspiring rangatahi already packed into their young lives was truly moving. So many of the young speakers and panelists were wise beyond their years and it was easy to forget that they were the same age as me, many actually younger.

The most profound characteristic of the Festival was that the panels and speakers were not just politicians, industry experts and academics – they were people who had experienced first-hand some of the most devastating and challenging issues facing our society. It made me think – why is it that in the debates around homelessness, poverty, mental health, or any other challenge our generation faces, I’ve never heard the voice of someone who has lived through the reality? We need to remember that behind every dire statistic in the news headlines, every fierce debate between those of different political ideals as to how exactly we measure the issue, our people, our next generation are suffering. One child growing up in poverty is one too many. It is so important to amplify these voices – you can turn your head from a statistic but it is much harder to look away from another human being.

 

Participants at an event entitled “Youth Building Peace”, commemorating International Youth Day (12 August).

 

Never let anyone tell you that your age prevents you from being the change you want to see in the world. At the Festival, influential young people from across the country came together to share how they have lobbied, advocated, invested, studied and served their communities in order to affect change. They have started businesses, changed laws and policies, given a voice to those who are unable to express themselves, and achieved their goals. They are influential teenagers, twenty-somethings, and thirty-somethings who have already made our world a better place.

August 12th is International Youth Day, an excellent chance to celebrate your individual achievements, the amazing accomplishments of your friends and peers, and to appreciate that anyone, no matter how old, can be a voice for change.

 

By Grace Thurlow

 

“Bossy”- It’s Real Meaning

Ever since I started school I’ve been a bright kid. In primary school, my hand was always up. I was in the gifted classes, I was labeled a leader, and I was confident in sharing my opinion, making friends and directing the conversation.

But by the time I reached intermediate school, things had begun to change. When given group projects I was continually told to stop being the “mum”. Not because I was caring or looked after everyone but because I “nagged them”. I was labeled “bossy” for the same characteristics that had previously been called leading. A label that not so surprisingly, none of my male counterparts got. The male students who took charge, raised their voice and tried to lead were told they had leadership potential, earned respect and were even labeled caring for trying to guide others.

Now, I often find myself sat in a university lecture hall in fear of being called on. I often bite my tongue in discussion because I don’t want to be seen as telling everyone what they should think. Or I lack the confidence to back up my opinion. When someone needs to take charge I’m far less inclined to lean in, because I don’t want to deal with the strife of being called “mum.” Never mind battling to get my voice heard.

Using the word “bossy” severely impacted my, and other women’s, confidence and leadership ambitions. It’s something that started in middle school, but keeps growing and continues throughout life. And it is an inherently gendered insult.

Bossy is defined as domineering, overbearing and fond of giving people orders. Yet it is commonly associated with any woman who asserts herself. I’ve read many articles like “how not to let a bossy woman undermine you in the workplace,” or “10 types of women men don’t want to marry” which of course included the “bossy woman”.

We are more likely to call an intelligent, organised, confident, logical girl who also puts her hand up bossy. Whereas her male counterpart will be admired for the same traits. As Sheryl Sandberg said “imagine if every girl who was called bossy was told she has leadership potential” This is because behind the hostility is a regressive, persistent view of what a woman should be. A woman should be kind, the feminine ideal, accommodating, a mother, a “good girl.”

But these stereotypes are a trap for women, if you exhibit the more ‘masculine traits’ associated with being a good and successful leader then you will be labeled bossy and disliked. But if you exhibit the soft skills of a woman such as caring for other, being modest, accommodating, then you are not seen as a worthy or good leader.

These stereotypes are the reason we need campaigns such as “Ban Bossy” by Lean In and Girl Scouts of America. It aims to promote self-censorship and criticism of the word bossy, recognising its negative impact on young women and their leadership. It is about starting a conversation and getting people to recognise the subconscious stereotypes and gender bias that come with the word.

What do Beyoncé, Condoleezza Rice & Jane Lynch have in common? They’ve committed to ban the word bossy. Watch this Lifetime PSA to hear why. #banbossy / http://banbossy.com

So now I sit in a university lecture hall reminding myself of these facts. I make a conscious effort to call out not just the use of “bossy” but any other gendered subconscious bias fueled comment. Simply posing the question. Would that still have been said if the individual was male? I still feel grief that for so long I carried around guilt of being “bossy” and allowed this to impact my self confidence, my self worth both physically, mentally, emotionally and interpersonally. My hope is not to ban bossy but simply the hope that when the time comes around, my daughter can be strong, assertive and independent without shame, or have anxiety of the word “bossy.” Equally, I hope that my son can be tender, emotional, passive without fear of the similar ridicule.

By Maisy Bently