Social capital

The Importance of Social Connectivity in the Age of AI

In a recent RSA blog, Andy Haldane, the RSA’s CEO, highlights the critical role of social connectivity and social capital in fostering health, wealth, and happiness. Haldane argues that despite their importance, social capital and connectivity have been largely overlooked in economic models and public policy.

The Erosion of Social Capital by Technology

Haldane explains that technology, while advancing productivity, tends to erode social capital. Automation and AI, for instance, often reduce face-to-face interactions, leading to weaker social bonds and increased isolation. This trend undermines trust and community, crucial components of social capital.

Investing in Social Capital Infrastructure

To counteract this erosion, Haldane advocates for deliberate investment in social capital infrastructure. This includes creating and maintaining community centres, parks, and public spaces that facilitate social interactions. Moreover, policies should focus on enhancing skills that promote social capital, such as empathy, negotiation, and relationship-building.

At Amitypath we believe that this deliberate approach to maintaining and developing social capital in the form of rich ecosystem engagement is achievable for all – large and small organisations, public and private sectors.

The Role of Education and Policy

Education systems should prioritise social skills alongside technical skills. Haldane suggests integrating social capital considerations into policy design, ensuring that measures to boost economic productivity do not inadvertently weaken social networks.

In addition, we recommend taking an ambitious approach to engaging well beyond the “usual suspects”. For example, one of the fastest ways to erode social capital is to eliminate jobs. From Putnam to Case and Deaton, studies have been showing that employment is critical to community resilience. So companies and governments promoting AI should pay close attention to those who are at risk of losing their roles to technology in particular.

A Pro-Social Policy Agenda

Haldane proposes a pro-social policy agenda that emphasizes building and nurturing social connections. This includes using data to understand social mobility patterns and implementing interventions to enhance social networks, particularly for disadvantaged groups.

In conclusion, as automation and AI reshape our world, the need to invest in social capital becomes increasingly urgent. By fostering strong social bonds and investing in social infrastructure, we can create a more connected, resilient, and prosperous society.

For more details, read Andy Haldane’s full arguments on the RSA blog here.

Social capital

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