Technology and (Dis)Empowerment: A Call to Technologists
The complex relationship between technology and social outcomes is well known and has recently seen significant attention due to the deepening of technology use in many domains. This includes issues such as the reproduction of inequality due to the digital divide, threats to democracy due to misinformation propagated through social networking platforms, algorithmic biases that can perpetuate structural injustices, hardships caused to citizens due to misplaced assumptions about the gains expected from the use of information technology in government processes, and simplistic beliefs that technology can easily lead to social development.
This timely work draws attention to the varying factors by which technology often leads to disempowerment effects. Featuring a Foreword by Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, Seth makes a call to technologists to burst the technology optimism bubble, build an ethos for taking greater responsibility in their work, collectivize to similarly shape the internal governance of their organizations, and engage with the rest of society to strengthen democracy and build an acceptance that the primary goal of technology projects should be to bring equality by overturning unjust societal structures.