The Pineapple Report – European youth and the digital revolution

  • Youth
  • 25/02/2019
  • BIK Team

"The Pineapple Report – Youth in Europe Face the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Tactics for Success", commissioned by the European Youth Forum with funding support from Google Inc., was recently released. It contains a series of proposals on what policymakers, institutions and society can do to ensure young people's wellbeing in the emerging fourth industrial revolution. 

In emoji, a pineapple means "it's complicated". This reference was chosen to illustrate the report, as the opportunities offered by the digital revolution require a holistic rather than a reductive plan of action.

In 2019, techno-optimism is waning. For the internet's thirtieth birthday, one of its founding fathers, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, expressed concern about a wide range of unethical practices regarding data protection, mass surveillance, fake news and political marketing. He admitted that the internet utopia has derailed, so much so that he is now striving to fix it, through initiatives like the #fortheweb campaign, and a new web infrastructure called Solid, which has as its mission "to restore rightful ownership of data back to every web user". Equally worrying is the fact that 2018 has been the 12th consecutive year of decline in freedom worldwide, including in European countries (France, Spain, Hungary…).

The Pineapple Report states that the political eden the internet was meant to be, with no borders, no political or social control, a "network of networks", has turned into a "Trinet", a "network of three networks": Amazon, Facebook and Google. The latter two now have direct influence over more than 70 per cent of internet traffic and more than 60 per cent of global advertising spending. This level of centralised power puts strain on democratic ideals.

Therefore, it is vital that ambitious new rights, laws, and consumer protections be put in place to implement democratic norms such as transparency and accountability in the digital world, and thereby to allow youth in Europe to thrive in the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Pineapple Report explores various proposals for how young people in Europe can reclaim political agency in this context, and make lasting change. The report's recommendations are organised in four categories reflecting the four capacities which should be fostered in young people:

  • Civic Intelligence – To affirm the value of citizenship in a digital democracy and address undermining factors such as disinformation and scare-politics, the report advocates for digital literacy and citizenship education training.
  • Emotional Intelligence – The report aims to empower young people to address industrial-scale emotional manipulation channelled through emerging technologies (such as disinformation, harassment, incitement towards radicalisation).
  • Physical Intelligence – The report calls on lawmakers to strengthen consumer, labour and environmental protections to address the excesses that digital technologies have on young people's health and wellness.
  • Creative Intelligence – To foster greater creative intelligence (imagination, originality and co-creation), the report calls on leaders to recognise the value of the Artisan Economy, DIY movement, Basic Income and growth mindset.

In short, since the term "digital native" is true for only a select, privileged few, political leaders must reverse the debilitating impact of sustained political, economic and social marginalisation we are witnessing in the fourth industrial revolution. Therefore, austerity, the individualisation of work, predatory consumerism, and infantilisation must be replaced with access to education, progressive consumer, labour and environmental protections, and respect, all in a holistic approach.

For more information, read the full report.

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