Inside the digital society
David Souter writes a weekly column for APC, looking at different aspects of the information society, development and rights. David’s pieces take a fresh look at many of the issues that concern APC and its members, with the aim of provoking discussion and debate. Issues covered include internet governance and sustainable development, human rights and the environment, policy, practice and the use of ICTs by individuals and communities.
In May, Internet users in Europe were flooded by emails from organisations telling them of changes in their data protection arrangements or asking them to renew consent to hold and use their data. Was this spam? No. It was the result of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – new European Union (EU) rules to govern how governments, businesses, charities and others can use the data individuals provide them with, and the inferences that they make from them.
What’s the impact of ICTs on equality and inequality? What’s the relationship between digital divides and other inequalities between women and men, old and young, poor and rich? Are new technologies reducing or increasing inequalities?
What will the digital society do to jobs? Will it usher in an age of unemployment or an age of leisure? Will we be served by robots or displaced by them? Will there be greater income inequality or less? This week: some comments on that theme, with a closing (counter-intuitive) conclusion.
Inside the Information Society returns after a break. This week’s post (based on a speech written for a recent conference) looks at the relationship between innovation and development.
This story’s about many things: the power that data gives to data companies like Facebook; the potential that it gives those companies and others to influence opinion; the impact of new media on old, on politics and populism.
Instead of choosing between many different internet platforms, we’re dependent on a few. So what went wrong (or right, depending on your point of view)?
Last week I wrote about the relationship between innovation and regulation in communications. I identified six areas of that relationship which I said I’d write about over the next few months. First up, this week and next, is competition. This week some history and ‘points of principle’; next week, some implications for today/tomorrow.
This week: a fundamental question about the balance between innovation, commercial interests and the regulation of the Internet: between ‘permissionless innovation’, which has been the norm online, and the ‘precautionary principle’ which is the norm in other economic sectors.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of this year’s hottest topics. Governments and businesses are investing big-time (China’s said by some to be best placed). Wide-eyed consultancies spell out the wonders they foresee ahead (with predictions of big dollars). Androids and robots stalk the silver screen.
Last week I participated in / facilitated a workshop on Africa’s research priorities for the Information Society. What follows are some thoughts arising.