computer screens

In her presentation, Dr Erin Green, a researcher originally from Canada and now based in Belgium, who has spent nearly 15 years studying the social and ecological impact of artificial intelligence, remarked that, even if we don’t know it, our world is now melded with artificial intelligence in our day-to-day lives.

“When I started doing my research, there was not so much out there about technology and artificial intelligence, or theology and technology,” Green said at the seminar on 26 April moderated by the WACC Europe president, Dr Stephen Brown.

“But what we see within the last five years—it’s kind of exploded,” Green added,

She outlined some independent resources and credible researchers that might be helpful for people trying to not only ward off the potential negative effects of artificial intelligence—but take advantage of the positive effects.

Some questions the seminar considered were: how do we decolonize artificial intelligence? How do we incorporate the knowledge of Indigenous people? How do we root out racist algorithms? How can we make digital technology more accessible for all?

We can move forward with a sense of hope, Green concluded. “One of the things I think is really powerful is connection,” she said. “What can you add to this conversation and share it with folks—now, today?”

Emy Osorio Matorel, originally from Colombia, who works for the Catholic Media Council (CAMECO) in Germany, spoke on digital inclusion in the global South. She began by noting that the concept of digital inclusion is very different in the global South than the global North, and that difference is what makes digital inclusion a complex topic.

“Is it exclusion if I don’t have the means to pay for internet access? Is it exclusion if most of the content is in English?” she asked. “As you might know, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed so many inequities.”

As COVID-19 prevented many people from communicating with their loved ones, today the digital divide still prevents many people from fully living their day-to-day lives.

Even the definition of “digital literacy” has changed, noted Matorel. “We used to think about digital literacy as learning how to use a platform, how to send an email, how to open a Google doc, how to use Word,” she said. “Now we have different kinds of access. It’s not only learning how to draft a document but also how to use the right internet connection, and how to use it in a smart way, depending on the platform you’re using.”

Matorel identified several organizations already working on issues related to access, among them Access Now, which has a platform on which many civil society organizations can track internet shutdowns. “There’s people who are already working on some things that we can build on, and we can form strategies with them.”

Digital Justice - A Study and Action Guide