The topic of our third debate in the class was also as essential as the last two previous debate topics. Two groups talked about both agreed and disagreed sides of “Technology Has Led to a More Equitable Society”. The rise of technology has undoubtedly had a profound impact on our society. Additionally, many argue that it has led to a more equitable and fair world. However, others disagree, believing that the opposite is true. In this blog post, we will explore both sides of the argument, discussing the ways in which technology has both helped and hindered efforts toward a more equitable society.
Agreed: Technology Has Led to a More Equitable Society
Advocates of the idea that technology has led to a more equitable society argued that it has enabled marginalized groups to gain access to resources, opportunities, and information that were previously unavailable to them. For example, technology has played a crucial role in expanding access to education. Online platforms like Coursera and Udemy offer free or affordable courses on a wide range of subjects, making education accessible to people who might not have had the chance to study otherwise.
Moreover, technology has made it possible for people to work remotely, which has opened up job opportunities for those who might not have been able to travel to work. This has been particularly beneficial for people with disabilities or those living in rural areas, who may have struggled to find employment opportunities in the past. With the rise of remote work, these individuals can now find work without having to worry about the challenges of commuting or relocating. In addition, social media has revolutionized the way public health communication operates, as it enables organizations to reach a broad audience with reliable information. It allows for continuous communication, knowledge exchange, and access to health messaging during emergencies. Social media helps to democratize information and tailor messages to specific audiences, ultimately increasing the impact of public health initiatives (Ndumbe-eyoh & Mazzucco, 2016).
Technology has also played a significant role in promoting social justice and activism. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have allowed marginalized groups to organize and raise awareness about issues that matter to them. The #MeToo movement, for example, was born on social media, as women around the world shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, leading to widespread awareness and a push for change. In the following you can see a short video about the #MeeToo movement:
Disagreed: Technology Has not Led to a More Equitable Society
However, the other group argued that technology has not led to a more equitable society and in some cases has actually made inequality worse. One key concern is that technology has exacerbated the digital divide, meaning that those who have access to technology are at an advantage over those who do not. In many parts of the world, access to technology is still limited, and those without access may be left behind in terms of education, job opportunities, and access to vital information. According to Bruce (2020), one of the primary reasons for the technology and education gap is income inequality among families. For instance, some students did not have any access to the internet and technology in some privileged areas of my country during the pandemic (Covid-19) so they were not able to educate themselves. However, the most interesting thing is that Don Hall (2006) in their article effectively explains how they discovered through their efforts to close the digital divide that technology can provide fair learning opportunities for students. Their program, “Bridging The Gap,” aimed to provide technology to students without access at home and has successfully supplied over 3,000 homes with technology in the past three years. This program highlights how technology can bring communities together and create equality by providing all families with the chance to support their child’s education.
Moreover, the use of technology in hiring and recruitment processes has been criticized for perpetuating discrimination. Algorithms used in hiring processes may unintentionally exclude certain groups, such as women or people of color due to bias in the data on which the algorithms are trained. This can lead to the perpetuation of systemic inequalities in the workplace.
Finally, the rise of social media has also led to a new type of inequality. Social media algorithms are designed to show users’ content that they are likely to engage with, which can lead to a silo effect where people only see information that confirms their existing beliefs. This can lead to the spread of misinformation and the entrenchment of political and social divides. There is some useful information in the following video in that Rufus Pollock is talking about how technology is driving inequality:
Examples of Technology and Equity
To illustrate both sides of the argument, let us look at some real-world examples of technology and equity.
One example of technology promoting equity is the One Laptop per Child program, which aims to provide affordable laptops to children in developing countries. The program recognizes that access to technology is essential for education and that by providing laptops, children in remote or underprivileged areas can gain access to a wealth of educational resources and opportunities.
Another example is the use of facial recognition technology in hiring and recruitment processes. While some argue that this technology can help to eliminate bias and promote equity, others worry that it may actually perpetuate existing biases, leading to further inequality.
In conclusion, while technology has undoubtedly had a significant impact on our society, the question of whether it has led to a more equitable society is a complex one. While technology has enabled access to education, remote work, and social justice movements, it has also perpetuated the digital divide, discrimination in hiring processes, and the spread of misinformation through social media. Therefore, it is essential to approach the use of technology with a critical eye and to ensure that it is used in a way that promotes equity and fairness for all. This requires addressing the systemic biases that exist within technology and working towards creating a more just and equitable society. As the debate continues, it is crucial to remain vigilant about the effects of technology on society and to ensure that we are using it to create a better, fairer world.