Cross-posted from AlterNet
Inequality and democracy are the kind of topics you may expect to hear about at a political convention, but not necessarily at a tech industry conference. And so former Vice President Al Gore's discussion at Nashville's tech-focused Southland Conference this week could be viewed in context as a jeremiad spotlighting taboo truths about tech culture and philanthropic traditions.
Gore may have been alluding to the tech economy becoming a significant driver of that inequality.
As Princeton economist Alan Blinder noted in a January Wall Street Journal op-ed, technology is "clearly the major villain" in rising economic inequality, as "e-commerce eliminated many 'ordinary' jobs (while) enhanc(ing) the opportunities and rewards for some 'extraordinary' jobs."
One way to see this is in the app economy, which often rewards billions to companies with a relatively few employees, thus concentrating wealth in fewer hands.
Later in his discussion, Gore said that "democracy has been hacked" by moneyed interests. Then, in response to a question about tech billionaires spending big on allegedly philanthropic enterprises, he said: "That's a good thing, as long as the rest of us don't ever fall prey to the illusion that charity is going to do the job of what democracy needs to do."