Equality, justice and fairness

Aharmonious society is built on equality, justice, and fairness. Three of them are neighbouring values. With its inherent tendency to concentrate data and economic power, digital technology contributes towards inequalities in modern society. As digital growth does not ‘lift all boats equally’ many communities are left behind. Digitalisation, together with globalisation and economic policies, is considered the key contributor to inequalities in modern societies (Milanović, 2018).

Digitalisation has many aspects that create inequalities, starting with unequal access to networks and devices (e.g. because of lack of infrastructure, financial barriers), to gaps in digital skills and on to gender inequalities as, for example, men still dominate the engineering and the computer industries. Digital divides are also triggered along generational divides and language barriers.

Feelings of injustice are common for those who have not adapted sufficiently fast to digitally driven transformations of the economy. Similar to the industrial revolution of the 19th century, there is a lost generation of digitalisation whose skills and professions have decreased their relevance in today’s digital economy. Loss of a job, a profession, a vocation has caused a loss of self-esteem among many with a huge impact on the social and political life of societies around the world.

Only recently has society begun to address the issues associated with this tech-induced ‘lost generation’ , such as special retraining programmes and early retirement. Future generations will adapt more easily to the new types of fluid job markets, as they become better prepared for less certainty and constant change.

Fairness became prominent with AI applications that can amplify racial, gender, age and other biases that already exist in society. Typically, AI becomes biased by being developed on biased data that represent biased reality. For example, AI makes decisions on providing loans or prioritising patients based on a wide range of gender, racial and age biases. For businesses, this is one of the most critical issues.

Equality, justice, and fairness are crucial for preserving social stability and nurturing dynamic and healthy social fabric. This set of values will gain in relevance, especially, in discussion on the future of AI technologies