Braving the Future: Defining Digital Injustice
17 June 2022 Zoom Meeting
The 11th TIJ International Virtual Forum on the Rule of Law and Sustainable Development
“Braving the Future: Defining Digital Injustice”
Friday, 17 June 2022 | 3:00 – 8:45 pm (GMT +7, Bangkok time)
Our social media avatar lounging in the metaverse reports on the latest robot vacuum cleaner controlled using big data about our daily habits through our smartphone that was bought using cryptocurrency validated on the blockchain. It is trite to say that digital is now the default. Borderless, convenient and fast, digitization has crept into every sphere of our lives. The digital age is now well and truly upon us.
The disruptive transformation brought about by digitization can be overwhelming and overpowering. But an awestruck response seems superficial, inadequate and even immature, given the intensity and depth of change we face. For example, what are the ethical implications of this transformation? How will these changes affect conventional notions of equity, equality, fairness and justice, in terms of access to resources, opportunities, and much more?
Surely, we must engage more deeply and meaningfully with the questions these changes put forward. A new world order is the need of the hour, one that may not necessarily have solutions, but that acknowledges injustice in the digital age, or more succinctly, “digital injustice”, and makes an effort to study and resolve the issue.
Define: Introduction, Definition, Trends
As with any new and complex idea, the first step is to arrive at a common vocabulary that is jointly agreed upon and collectively understood. What is meant by “digital injustice”? What are its components, contours and limits? What forms of such injustice (can) exist? Who are likely to be the “perpetrators” and “victims” of such injustice? Who is responsible for meting out penalties and issuing reparations?
Unpacking all this is no easy task, but a small start could be made through imagining the possible risks and conflicts that might emerge in the virtual space. Only once we arrive at a definition of digital injustice and an accompanying vocabulary, can we begin to identify, devise and implement solutions. Ideally, this exercise must be future-proof:not only must it tackle “digital injustice” in the forms it already exists, but also forecast, and hopefully, prevent, future such injustices.
Discover: Showcase ideas from the Problem Lab Workshop
Shiny new things and ideas are always exciting but also lead us into temptation and distraction. As we get swept away in the rush of the moment, we risk forgetting the objective we began in the first place. As future thinkers, we have the power to not allow the future to guide us, but instead, shape the future in a manner that is beneficial to society, the notion of “beneficial” itself being open to interpretation and definition. The TIJ International Problem Lab Workshop seeks to undertake precisely this exercise. Following the Workshop, participants will present discoveries from their group exercise as well as a reflection on the potential uses of futures thinking.
Design: Brainstorm for governing in the digital age
By this stage, Forum attendees will have presumably formulated a vision, even if rudimentary, of the scenarios of injustice they believe are likely to be encountered in the digital uni/metaverses. In addition, we will hear about essential principles that will help rethink and redesign a governing system in the digital age. All Forum attendees, either individually or as a group, will be able to send in their definitions of digital injustice to TIJ. These ideas will become conversation-starters for future cohorts to develop and elaborate upon. Through collaborative presentations and public engagement, these collected ideas will form working definitions that will be reviewed and advanced at future editions of the Forum.
The Forum and Workshop brings together an eclectic group of speakers who are experts in the field. Through thought-provoking discussions and engrossing presentations, they will seek to equip attendees with ideas, both theoretical and practical, that could help create the ideal digitized worlds we seek, with desirable features of equity, equality, fairness and justice.
This Forum seeks to reinforce the principle that justice belongs to everyone equally. Justice should not be restricted to real or tangible interactions alone. As we increasingly engage in virtual environments, we must recognize and value the idea of justice being truly universal, or more appropriately, metaversal. Just as the idea of justice is capable of crossing metaverses, concepts of injustice are also likely to spill over and across. The digital age is still relatively young, and in many ways, we are working with a blank slate. We are in a unique and powerful position to define, discover and design the future of the digital age. This is a privilege we do not usually have in the physical one.