Our final topic up for debate in EC&I 830 was about whether or not we believed that technology is a force for equity in society. Out of all of the topics that we have analyzed over the past six weeks, this was the toughest topic for me to explain. I have been jumping back and forth about to both sides of the argument. I’ve finally landed on the idea that technology can be used for equity in society, but it’s entirely up to the people to drive the force behind this. In the following video, we discover that technology is not to blame for the "digital divide", but rather that it is the price tag that creates this problem.
People need to be aware of the biases that come with technology. Amy and Rakan shared some sources that touched on artificial intelligence programs show racial and gender biases and can be used as another way to discriminate against others. I think that it is important to be awar of the ideas that Amy and Rakan shared, but that shouldn’t stop us from striving to make technology equal for all. Having access to technology can create educational opportunities. Open Educational Resources (OERs) are allowing schools to access learning opportunities in remote areas of the world. Online classes offered on the internet help provide quality educational experiences.
Being aware of the idea that you can still accomplish what you need to do on an older version of a device is also important. Society makes us want new shiny things all the time, but I can accomplish a lot of the same tasks on my cell phone when I compare it to the newest model. I do not need to get the newest gadget out there to access some of the best technology our world has to offer.
While there are barriers of higher costs that make it difficult for lower classes to purchase technology, historical prices of electronics dramatically decrease when the next new version is released. Taking advantage of free software, like google docs, is also a great way to benefit from the tools that technology has to offer. Another way we are working towards equity through tech in Canada is by having tech recycling programs such as the Electronic Recycling Association (ERA). The ERA will take donations of old, unwanted electronics and refurbish them and give them to not for profits in the community.
Yes, we have a long way to go in making sure technology is used in a equitable and fair way throughout society, but it is never too late to get started to change this!