Version 0.1

The problems we face in attempting to truly democratize emergent tech are far too complex for any one person or small group to have all the answers. The goal of this first version is not to provide a more comprehensive solution but to start a conversation about what it’ll take to democratize emerging tech on a much larger scale.


Makers All is focused on addressing the needs of adults, not children. There are 3 reasons for this decision:

1) From Black Girls Code to to AI4ALL, there are already many groups doing terrific work focused on the needs of children.

2) When it comes to children, it’s less necessary to advocate for the report’s ideas because some of these ideas are already being implemented. For example:

  • As we will see in our discussion of Strategy #1, there’s plenty of work being done on improving coding UX for kids
  • Most children are already enmeshed in a variety of community networks, from school to after-school clubs to church programs, and some of these networks are encouraging kids to get involved in coding and design

3) Adults and children have very different needs. For example:

  • If you’re introducing a nine-year-old to coding, you can count it as a success if they get a coding job 13 years in the future. Adults need coding jobs today.
  • Adult learners face very different emotional challenges than children do. If you’ve been out of work or have had a series of low-paying jobs or have lost a good paying job to automation, learning something as complex as coding can seem overwhelming.
  • Adults also face different financial challenges than most children do – e.g., while they are learning they also have to put food on the table.

The Robot/AI Threat to Jobs

This report is agnostic as to whether robots and AI will lead to mass unemployment. While McKinsey studies are better than a Magic 8 Ball, there’s simply no way to know who’s right. Instead, this report is based on the assumption that we should stop obsessing over trying to predict the future and start focusing on creating a strategy to build more just, prosperous economy regardless of the impact robots/AI have on jobs.

Furthermore, this report is not an attempt to build a comprehensive version of that strategy. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, even if our society becomes far more effective at training many people in every community to become developers, it’s unrealistic to expect that everyone will do so. As the report discusses in Part 3 and the Conclusion, we will need other approaches to ensure that everyone can lead a life with dignity and security and that all communities can be made whole. This report is simply an effort to lay out an approach for building one important piece – but only one piece – of the broader strategy our society needs.

The US

The first version of the Makers All strategy is focused on the circumstances facing the US – largely because the author of this first version didn’t know anywhere enough about the unique circumstances in other countries to build a globally-oriented approach (and was afraid his head would explode if he tried to do so in the first version). But the ideas and techniques it proposes could certainly be modified to fit the needs and circumstances of other countries.

As Makers All begins working with communities around the globe, this toolkit and the overall strategy will undoubtedly change substantially.

Next: Strategies
Last: Lessons from Our Past: Cooperative Extension Services and Citizenship Schools
Up: Introduction