The Digital Divide

In the search for the cause of the digital divide its very easy to see the fault in the corporations and wealthy. They were in a definite moral disadvantage in the past in regards to electricity accessibility (Pietrzak, 2020). In the modern age they are in that same moral position. I ask that maybe we identify why this happens instead of using heuristic techniques and simply falling on “greed” as the sole cause.

Why do incredibly rich people, who have more money than they could spend in a lifetime, keep most of it to themselves? Firstly, most of their income is not in their bank accounts but rather in the form of property or stocks. Obviously that income cannot be easily used and would drop a person’s financial value. Which brings up my second point, the fact that a person’s value is dependent on their level of income, at least in our culture. This, in short, is due to some evolutionary shortcuts to identify high-quality mates. A behavioral mechanism that is difficult to remove or ignore. Whether this is a preferred and useful method to identify value in a person is not for me to say but I definitely prefer that it wasn’t. I think this is at the heart of why wealthy people are unwilling to sacrifice most of their unused income. Their money is what makes them valuable to so many people and altruism gives them very little. Altruistic acts are a sacrifice of your own fitness for the benefit of others but the self-benefits of altruism are redundant to the wealthy. There is almost nothing in it for them and I imagine that most people who gain a tremendous amount of wealth would probably behave the same way. Not to claim that the decriers are hypocrites but rather only human.

If the digital divide is another issue of inequality we also know that the wealthy have readied excuses for not helping. The common argument is that helping the less fortunate means they don’t learn to get out of their situation themselves. They have to pick themselves up and learn strength and determination to get through it all. If they are helped, they will only end up back in poverty. While, generically, this argument makes sense, it isn’t realistic. If we consider an unsheltered man living under a bridge, how does he get access to a job without modern technology? How does he get access to modern technology, consistently, without an income? This on top of all the other things standing in his way to an income like hygiene, transportation, clean clothes, and mental illness. Without some help, not even the strongest most determined human being could get out of that situation. This argument is out of touch with reality but who is more out of touch than someone with billions of dollars?

Pietrzak, L. (2020). United We Stand, Disconnected We Fall: the Digital Divide Stories. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF9kIn1LQlM.

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WOU Student CS Ethics

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