Problems of digital exclusion have traditionally been associated with lack of access to technology. Increasingly digital exclusion also emerges with the active agency of state and corporate institutions using AI, smart city infrastructures, surveillance systems and even robotics. The aim of this post-conference is to make connections between a diverse range of disciplinary areas that have studied digital inequalities including digital inclusion research, data justice, critical race and digital media studies, data sovereignty and digital rights.
Inequalities occur along multiple fronts including geography, social class, race, gender, age, and institutional systems and policies. They also can be shaped by powerful imaginaries of digitally-enabled futures promising efficiency, safety and economic prosperity. Data-driven and algorithmic processes related to smart technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), facial-recognition and robotics demand an extension from traditional concerns around digital exclusion to account for the potential to produce systemic abuses and extenuate disadvantage.
The post-conference is an opportunity to examine the ways in which new technologies, including those that link digital networks and data via tracking tools and algorithms, add to the unequal distribution of digital benefits and perpetuate and even worsen inequalities in the expansion of the Digital Welfare State and other kinds of neoliberal, policing and techno-centric systems. It also examines the kinds of civic, open and public institutions – such as libraries, local governments, community media, and justice movements – that are increasingly important for ameliorating digital inequalities and countering imaginaries premised upon techno-centric fixes.
Co-organised by the University of Sydney, University of Canberra, the University of Texas at Austin, Western Sydney University and the University of Melbourne, this Digital Inequalities Post-ICA Conference recontextualizes digital inequalities within the context of emerging technologies and their affiliated social and political regimes, spaces and imaginaries.