Inequality Is the Name of the Game: Thoughts on the Emerging Field of Technology, Ethics and Social Justice
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This paper argues that the hype around ‘ethics’ as panacea for remedying algorithmic discrimination is a smokescreen for carrying on with business as usual. First, it analyses how the current discourses around digital innovation and algorithmic technologies (including artificial intelligence or AI), newly emerging technology policy and governmental funding patterns as well as global industry developments are currently re-configured around ‘ethical’ considerations. Here, the paper shows how this phenomenon can be broken down into policy approaches and technological approaches. Second, it sets out to provide three pillars for a sociological framework that can help reconceptualize the algorithmic harm and discrimination as an issue of social inequality, rather than ethics. Here, it builds on works on data classification, human agency in design and intersectional inequality. To conclude, the paper suggests three pragmatic steps that should be taken in order to center social justice in technology policy and computer science education.