by Jonathan Todd
The internet, claims the opening sentence of The New Digital Age, the bestseller by Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, is among the few things that humans have built that they don’t truly understand. Labour has, however, resolved to learn and act accordingly.
That is the goal of Labour Digital, launched last week at Google Campus. The crossbencher Martha Lane Fox and Labour’s Parry Mitchell, the digital entrepreneurs of the upper house, spoke, as did John McTernan, who will gather digital policy ideas for the next Labour manifesto.
Lane Fox and Mitchell both focused on the digital divide – unequal access to digital technologies. Some are highly digitally literate, many are not, denying them tremendous benefits. As an egalitarian party, correcting this should be a Labour priority.
For 20 years, Labour spokespeople have stressed the need for adaptation to globalisation. Yet, in a seminal mid-1990s paper, Richard Freeman, a Harvard economist, attributed more importance to technological change in determining the wages of the low skilled than international trade. Labour spokespeople, however, have less frequently highlighted the importance of adaptation to technological change.