Radhika Shah on inequality and internet access

The Internet is the backbone to accessing information. Radhika Shah, vice president of Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs, examines how social entrepreneurs and technology companies play an important role in bridging the global technological divide. 


RADHIKA SHAH: I think in the world, there are many types of inequalities and one of the growing ones is information inequality. There’s a big difference on access to information, the speed of information, the type of information.

[Inequality is logo. A graphic black equal sign with an orange slash through it. #InequalityIs. Radhika Shah, vice president, Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs. A bicultural South Asian woman with chin length hair, wearing a teal silk shirt.]

I believe the social entrepreneurs play a key role. Companies like Facebook and Google from my world are actually working on projects like the internet art project at Facebook and such, to bring internet connectivity to these parts of the world. In terms of pressing the technological divide, once you have the internet, then that’s the backbone for getting access to information. That is, I think, the very first step. Not only do we need access to information, we have to have agency. We all need to be participants in decisions. Only then will there be proper justice. Technology can play a key role in bridging the gap in decision-making in cities and governments, and in getting many more people to participate. We saw what happened in Egypt, and that’s happening in many different places. But it’s not sufficient, it’s just a tool. Mindset shift absolutely needs to happen. The people in power need to want to enable people to participate. If they do, I think there’s tremendous things that can be done with technology. I hope to be a little piece of that community to help solve that problem and I hope to bring in my world of Silicon Valley and technology to help solve that problem.

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