Our Virtual Pandemic Year – The New York Times


And the technology that promised to bring restaurant owners, product merchants and job seekers more income during challenging times also created new and unwelcome dependencies on the digital middlemen, such as DoorDash, Amazon and Uber. The influence and economic might of the Big Tech superpowers become even more glaring. It will be a failure if the new digital economy — like the old economy — does not work for everyone.

And my lasting memory of the past 12 months is that technology often does not matter very much.

Humans and human-run institutions pulled off last year’s presidential election with few problems. Humans also were largely responsible for undermining credibility in the election outcome.

Humans looking out for one another as well as policymakers’ choices were the most important factors in keeping people safe — or not — during the pandemic. And the magic of coronavirus vaccines and the protests that demanded a more fair country had little to do with what we think of as technology.

It’s been a long, awful year and let’s hope that the next 12 months will be brighter. And also let us hold in our minds that people, not technology, change the world.

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