United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and extreme poverty addresses the risk of ‘digital welfare dystopia’
Philip Alston, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on human rights and extreme poverty presented a report on 19 October to the UN General Assembly where he highlights the negative impact that emerging technologies such as data and artificial intelligence have on the welfare state that is increasingly becoming digitalised, and warns that ‘there is a grave risk of stumbling zombie-like into a digital welfare dystopia’. In order to avoid this from happening the rapporteur stresses that emerging digital welfare state initiatives should seek to promote digital equality, economic and social rights, civil and political rights, as well as resist the inevitability of a digital only future.
The report observes that, so far, little attention has been paid to how digital technologies could help improve the welfare state. It underscores that they could particularly play a role in the transformation of welfare budgets and ultimately ensure a better standard of living for the poor and vulnerable populations.