APPG on Inclusive Technology

About

The APPG on Inclusive Technology is a cross party grouping which advocates for inclusive technology policy. The APPG looks into how technological progress affects marginalised communities and will put forward recommendations to improve access and agency.

Objectives

  • Analyse how technological progress affects marginalised communities
  • Advocate for accelerators to overcome the digital divide and unequal access to technology

Background

Advances in technology have led to significant positive change in society. Technological progress has generated growth and crucially enabled people to connect, organise, strategise, and advocate. However, it is critical that progress is for everyone and equitable. Otherwise, rapid technological change could further increase inequities and marginalisation.

There remains a considerable digital divide in society, with uneven distribution in digital access and the benefits of technological progress lacking in marginalised communities. There is also increased awareness about the possible negative consequences of such advances, as companies prioritise profit and speed over safety, ethics, privacy, transparency, and accountability in the development of technologies.

Some new technologies, either intentionally or unintentionally, are currently being used in manners that present problems from a practical and fundamental rights perspective for marginalised communities. This can further exacerbate disparities that already exist in society.

Artificial intelligence (AI) application in the fields of counter terrorism, migration, policing, and security operations is being used to monitor, track, surveil, recognise, identify, profile and analyse citizens to accomplish a range of policy objectives—some lawful, others that violate human rights, and many of which fall in between. New technologies are also being used in the building of new databases, where practises of data collection, sharing, harvesting, and mining have led to considerable harm.

There has also been considerable focus on technological bias and how “technologies that often pose as objective, scientific, or progressive, too often reinforce inequities.” Although new technologies such as algorithms and AI have been presented as neutral because of the removal of biases and human subjectivity, they may “perpetuate pre-existing human biases and social inequalities particularly when the technology is premised upon discriminatory assumptions and data.” Therefore, the independence and objectivity of data and design process needs to be taken into consideration when rolling out the use of new technologies into different fields.

The development of video sharing and social media online platforms has also created new issues of concern. Many of these platforms have been used to spread disinformation, fake news, hate speech, and extremism content targeting marginalised communities. Attempts to moderate content has also led to problems including in some cases censorship that falls outside the rule of law.

Accelerators for change

Technological change is creating unprecedented transformation and new challenges for society and marginalised communities. Therefore, it is important that technological progress is complemented by sound public policymaking focusing on adequate strategies and policies to mitigate negative effects. Accountability, transparency, and avoiding unintended consequences should underpin technological progress.

It is also of utmost importance to focus on access and agency when it comes to technology through empowerment and education. Although access and agency will not solve problems generated by new technologies, it will be beneficial to have people from marginalised communities aware, involved and leading in the design and development of new technologies.