It is the last debate in the EC&I class. The debate statement was “Technology is a force for equity in society”. I was one of the disagree team with Amy Snider. Before joining the disagree side, I was really confused about the topic. It was the hardest topic to pick a side from the first glance. The common thought, I guess, is that everyone can have access to technology despite gender and race. However, I decided to think deeper.
How could technology disrupt equity? In what terms could that happen? Who might use technology against equity? Is there anything hidden behind the scene?
The challenge started from those questions to end up picking the disagree side because of the different points of view and proven ideas about the bad effects of technology regarding equity.
I can not deny that the agree side did a great work. They brought the idea of accessibility; they talked about how everyone, nowadays, can have access to the internet and technical devices. Nonetheless, back to my questions, there is another dimension to look at.
I am not saying that people do not have access to technology, but, regarding equity, they misuse it. During the debate, in our opining statement video, I talked about how women are easy victims to harassment in the most famous platforms Twitter and Facebook. For instance, Haroon Siddique focused in his article “Twitter not protecting women from abuse, says Amnesty” on how women are vulnerable to abusers especially when they tweet about equity and their rights. I do not want to be repetitive but, in the same article, Siddique mentioned that Twitter tried to plead saying “cannot delete hatred and prejudice from society” and here is my point. It is the society who misuse those platforms. Again, I mentioned in the debate that many devices around us are set with women voices. They are designed to receive orders so that represents a biased scene which is women are always obedient. Who set those devices?
In addition, I tried to spot the light on the idea that the technical industry is the sector where men have many advantages over women in terms of decision making and salaries. It is the bias again but who said that men should always be the upper hands in tech industry? Who decided that women can not work as engineers and programmers?
Furthermore, when I was searching, I met the term “digital colonialism” for the first time. I came from a developing-country background where I had to pay money to get a low internet connection. Even though the internet is slow, I thought that we, people who live in developing countries, are inferior to developed countries according to this only fact. However, after I read the article “It’s digital colonialism’: how Facebook’s free internet service has failed its users“, I realized how big companies like Facebook are opportunists to have control over some developed countries. I do not rule out that some governments politicize those companies to have more cultural control because it is mentioned in this article how Free Basics service displays content only in English in some countries despite their native languages. Once again, Facebook and Free Basics are one shape of technology which was programmed by humans.
People who created and are still developing technology live and are affected by biased world. As a result, it is a logical sequence to have technology that discriminates. All in all, I can not close my eyes to the advantages of technology and how our lives improved because of it. While it is true that I consider technology is not a force for equity in society yet, we can use it as a weapon to get that. I would like to thank my classmate Catherine Ready for her Summery of Learning video. She said something that is very important regarding this topic. She said technology is a change and we should embrace that change. For me, I think it is very important to fight the biased ideas we have in our society in order to reflect that on technology and its usage.