Planning this blog series, we came up with a laundry list of issues we felt were necessary to be discussed. Fittingly, we ended up with an unwieldy title: „Congruence and Competition of Norms and Values in the Context of Global Digitalization“. The articles in the series – ranging from responsible research in the light of technological progress, to the digitization of cultural heritage and new digital borders – covered a lot of ground and a broad set of topics. What have we learned from them?
by Marwa Fatafta
Almost a decade ago, the internet was celebrated as one of history’s greatest liberation tools. People have unparalleled access to information and a greater deal of freedom to express themselves without fear of censorship or reprisal. This enthusiasm was short-lived, however. Today’s internet is heaving with hate speech, censorship, fake news, misinformation, and all forms of extremism. Governments have tightened their grip on digital spaces, and tech companies have grown into nontransparent empires with immense influence on the world’s politics, economies, and societies. These changes have brought forward new terrains of conflict and have redefined the relationship between the citizen and the state.
by Michael Nagenborg & Monika Kuffer
The discussion about the interplay between digital technologies and the process of globalization is often focused around the following question: who has access to global information networks and who benefits from digital communication technologies? These are essential questions and it can hardly be denied that they confront us with a series of political and ethical questions. However, we also need to recognize the ongoing digitalization of the globe, a process where more and more people are put on various kinds of maps.
by Matthias Leese
The European Union’s (EU) external border framework is not only increasingly reliant on digital databases, but these databases are now set to become interoperable. By 2020, the European Commission (EC) aims to have a fully interconnected new architecture for identity management at the border in place. Based on biometric enrolment of all third-country citizens, Europe’s new digital borders raise a number of concerns, including suspicion, large-scale surveillance, and internal policing that spread well beyond the border site.
von Daniel Jacob
Das Internet ist ein gigantisches Netzwerk von Maschinen. Während sich dessen konkrete Nutzung permanent weiterentwickelt, bleibt dessen Funktion im Kern doch immer der Austausch von Informationen. Die vielfältigen Institutionen der Internet Governance lassen sich als Versuch verstehen, diesen Austausch zu ermöglichen. Eine zentrale Rolle kommt dabei der Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) zu. Sie verwaltet das globale Adressbuch des Internets und legt so fest, wie weit das Netz des Internets reicht. Die technische Notwendigkeit einer solchen zentralen Instanz wird im Prinzip kaum bestritten. Zunehmend jedoch verschärfen sich die Konflikte darüber, wie weit deren Kompetenzen reichen und wer sie kontrollieren sollte. Letztlich, so möchte ich zeigen, geht es um die Frage, wieviel internationale Autorität in diesem Bereich der Internet Governance notwendig und legitim ist.
by Maria Pawelec
Work of the author is supported by the Institutional Strategy of the University of Tübingen (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, ZUK 63)
Bridge International is a for-profit chain of private (pre-)primary schools employing technology to allegedly provide “high-quality, affordable education” in the Global South. Like many other actors, Bridge (cl)aims to bridge the global digital divide and to use information and communication technologies to realize development (“ICT4D”), in particular in sub-Saharan Africa. But are such projects really allowing the region to “catch up” with the rest of the world and strengthen its weak global standing? Not necessarily. Many projects’ implementation mirrors existing global power inequalities and may even reinforce them.1 Moreover, the technologies employed themselves augment these imbalances. The present contribution illustrates this, using Bridge as a case study.
by Zinaida Manžuch
Large-scale digitisation has brought cultural heritage objects and materials from the remotest places of the world to our computer screens. At first sight, this innovation seems to make cultural heritage accessible to everyone like never before. However, technological advances have not eliminated social inequalities between powerful and marginalized communities and ethical issues in communicating cultural heritage. These issues became much more vivid and obvious when the spread of cultural heritage reached the global scale.
by Nolen Gertz
With the rise of big data, internet-of-things, machine learning, targeted advertising, face recognition algorithms, virtual assistants, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and cyberwarfare, we find more and more people and policy makers around the world debating whether technological advances are helping us or hurting us. Such debates often focus on trying to figure out a way to balance the need to preserve human values with the desire to not interfere with technological progress. The central problem that arises then is what to do when values and progress come into direct conflict with each other. Should we err on the side of caution and rein in companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook so they do not interfere with personal privacy and national democracy? Or should we take a more pioneering perspective and view the occasional rights violation as a necessary risk that can be outweighed by the rewards for medicine, manufacturing, and media? Or should we try to find a middle path and have tech companies and policy makers work together to develop guidelines for “responsible research and innovation”?
In cooperation with the International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW),
In the course of forming the global information society, the implementation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has been realized in many parts of the world. Technology today pervades most areas of human life, and is considered a useful tool for international development and the empowerment of disadvantaged groups. However, when implementing technology, central values such as data security, privacy and fair access to the internet are often neglected and local culture, content, and values become marginalized. Especially the export of ICT to the Global South raises concern about cultural domination and even neo-colonialism. Moreover, technology is not neutral but has values embedded in it. This provokes ethical questions about global power relations, (gender) justice, inclusion, and the implications of the distribution and use of technology. The authors in this blog series will explore related issues and discuss the congruence and competition of norms and values in the context of global digitalization.
Marco Fey von der Hessischen Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (und Autor bei uns im Blog) hat einen neuen Report über Waffen aus dem 3D-Drucker bei der HSFK veröffentlicht. Im Report setzt er sich mit der Technologie, die dahinter steckt, auseinander und er erläutert, in welchen Staaten diese Technologie besonders gefördert wird. Ebenso geht er auf rüstungs- und verteidigungspolitische Auswirkungen der Technologie ein, sowie die die sicherheitspolitischen Risiken, die diese Technologie mit sich bringt. Das ganze ist sehr lesenswert! Der Report mit dem Titel „Waffen aus dem 3D-Drucker. Additive Fertigung als sicherheitspolitisches Risiko?“ kann hier heruntergeladen werden.