Digital Divides Aren’t Far-Fetched

In the article “What will digital life look like in 2025?” Anita Salem said “people who live in the highest bandwidth communities could have the pleasure of interacting with each other through holograms and taking virtual tours of the most compelling parts of the planet.” Upon reading this, my first thought was “hmm… that could create a huge class divide.” My fear was confirmed in the next section of the article that said “the problems of a digital divide could worsen.”

The truth is, I knew my fear wasn’t far fetched because technology creates a huge digital divide already. Being surrounded by college students with iPhones and other smart devices, I forget that plenty of people in the US can’t afford technology like this. Where I’ve been connected to apps like Twitter for years, I know people from home (Jacksonville, NC) who just got an account last year because they just got an iPhone last year. This reminds me of the article we discussed last week in class that came from a teenager’s perspective on social media. The writer of the article was looking at social media through an extremely narrow scope- one of a privileged college student.

As technology continues to create opportunities for those who can afford them, it also continues to create a new standard that not everyone can reach. Artificial intelligence and robots are great concepts, but the fact is that most people won’t be able to afford these systems. Some people in the world still aren’t connected to Internet. If digital operating systems are “integrated” into the human body by 2025, as Salem predicted, how will this allow for human relations between tech-connected humans and humans who don’t even have a wifi signal?

It’s also concerning to think of the advantages some people will have over others. Money, location, connections and (natural) intelligence divide people today. But if some people are integrated with digital operating systems and using artificial intelligence, this would create an even further divide, a digital divide, that could be much worse than an old-fashioned class divide.

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