Social activism needed to rein in tech’s destructive elements, experts say

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held a virtual webinar on Technology and Innovation Report 2021: The role of civil activism to explore the impact of frontier technologies on sustainable development and circulate the main recommendations of UNCTAD’s Technology and Innovation Report 2021. During the webinar, experts called upon governments, big tech corporations, and innovators to espouse a more human-centered technology agenda that tackles the needs of all and could reverse the trend of growing inequality. ‘The interconnection between the digital and physical worlds has distorted the boundary between socioeconomic and digital inequalities. Each wave of technological change since the industrial revolution of the mid-eighteenth century has coincided with sharper levels of economic inequality. Big tech alone cannot be trusted to come up with ethical frameworks. Civil activism is a critical force to ensure that frontier technologies work for all and not just for a few. It can also generate wider debates on how technology affects citizen’s rights, privacy, data ownership, and online security,’ UNCTAD’s technology and logistics director Shamika N. Sirimanne.