Despite the slowly breaking down the digital divide wall in the developing countries, new inequalities related to access to technology have shown up in rich countries, according to expert, Christoffer O. Hernæs. As in these richer countries, a labor-saving technology has replaced many blue-collar jobs that paid well. Those workers have had to switch to retail and home healthcare jobs, where the pay is typically lower.
In the US, for example, the breach between billionaires and the rest of the population is bigger than ever before. This poorly distributed wealth is even more visible in Sillicon Valley. The chasm between tech multi-billionaires and the rest of the population in Northern California — where an estimated 31 percent of jobs pay $16 per hour or less and the median income in the U.S. today is about the same as it was in 1995 — has led to the conclusion that the tech sector is greatly contributing to increased inequality.
Basically, there are some lobbies out there blaming new robotic and artificial intelligence technologies because the so-called white collar jobs are at risk. These are mostly middlemen who are being replaced by other technological meanings. At last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos it was stated that artificial intelligence is ushering in the fourth industrial revolution, which will change society as we know it. According to a recent report from McKinsey, half of the world’s jobs could be automated by 2055.
Even in the newborn of the Sharing Economy and new Platform Cooperatives are many voices that disagrees of it capability to sort the oncoming job losses. Some may argue that platforms like Uber are generating new income opportunities, but a recent court ruling where Uber was fined $20 million for misleading drivers with inflated wage statistics tells a different story.
Expert Christoffer O. Hernæs goes further and stated that sharing has little to do with caring in the sharing economy, and has more in common with quasi-monopolies where freelancers must compete in a hyper-competitive environment by the grace of the platform — not so different from vassals in the feudal system.
For him, technology itself shouldn’t be addressed as the problem of a rising inequality but as an opportunity, while blaming technology is merely an excuse to abdicate responsibility. Technology does not cause income disparity, but enables increased efficiency and wealth creation. The problem is how we choose to distribute the wealth and benefits of increased efficiency. So far, we are not really doing a good job in this department.”
And he concluded with a outstanding statement, “as technology replaces human work, we should also give everyone a share of the benefits gained by increased productivity, the same way Finland is trialing universal basic income for all citizens. in order to equalize wealth distribution, both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have pledged to donate 99 percent of their fortunes to charity, and are encouraging others to do the same.”
The Digital Divided breakdown in the Developing Countries
Back in the days, in the late 90s, scholars, policy makers, scientists and other concern authorities started to use a term that explained, very accurately, the next big issue the world was about to overcome. They called it the Digital Divide.
Much have been done though since late 90s. A recent report by the World Bank highlights that in 2013, fewer than 800 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day. That’s less than 11 percent of the global population. As recently as 1990, about 35 percent of all people lived in such extreme poverty. That means about 1.1 billion people rose out of extreme poverty.
Thanks to active policies and high expectations of more than 2 billion might-be-customers, in developing countries, inequality is decreasing and the amount of people living in extreme poverty is at an all-time low.
These countries have been aimed by Worldwide institutions such the World Bank or the United Nations and have been able to introduce mobile technology, which is contributing to a key element for local economy: the financial inclusion in countries without an established financial infrastructure. Also, a more globalized market create trade opportunities.
Roughly, the digital divide refers to the gaps in access to information and communication technology, known for its acronym, ICT. Which makes a difference between those who indeed have access to technology and those ones who “have not”. Threatens the ICT “have-nots”, whether are individuals, groups or, even, entire countries.
To address this problem, education and learning lie at the heart of these issues and their solutions. The gaps that define the “learning digital divide” are thus as important as the more obvious gaps in access to the technology itself.
This digital divide has been issued as the main problem developing countries face in terms of economic prosperity. Without the proper technology and lack of access to new techniques, these countries have been doomed to rely on rich countries to lend the proper equipment or just stay in the dark in a more globalized world.
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Hernaldo Turrillo is a freelance journalist working now for IntelligentHQ. Hernaldo was born in Spain and finally settled in London, United Kingdom, after a few years of personal growth. Hernaldo finished his Journalism bachelor degree in the University of Seville, Spain, and began working as reporter in the newspaper, Europa Sur, writing about Politics and Society. He also worked as community manager and marketing advisor in Los Barrios, Spain. Innovation, technology, politics and economy are his main interests, with special focus on new trends and ethical projects. He enjoys finding himself getting lost in words, explaining what he understands from the world and helping others. He was born journalist and became a thinker. Knowledge has no limits.