The framers of America’s Constitution and the architects of our modern technology firms have something in common. They were all informed by a deep understanding of human nature—classic texts for the Founders; cognitive science for the technologists—and keenly aware that our passions often get the better of us.
The Constitution is a brilliant exercise in restraining those innate forces; social media is an ingenious tool for exploiting them. If there’s any hope of preventing our digital divisions from overwhelming our democracy, we must relearn the deep wisdom that shapes our system of government for the better and distorts our online world for the worse.
That will mean a new approach to curriculum in both civics and technology. It’s not enough to know how a bill becomes a law, or how a search engine generates results. Students need to connect the age-old wisdom that underpins both systems so that they can do the urgent work of reform.
If that seems like a lot to ask of young people, remember that democracy’s founders and our modern tech moguls share another trait: They made world-changing decisions at very young ages.