“From climate change mitigation and better health care to more democratic and inclusive societies, new technologies hold great promise for the future…. Let’s make good use of them for the greater good.”
To envision a society in which human progress is based on a common ethical and value framework, we need to be proactive and open-minded regarding the advantages and disadvantages of expanded access to new technology systems, including automation and artificial intelligence (AI). One of the most difficult socioeconomic concerns, intergenerational poverty, maybe solved if this is achieved. Our efforts to improve the lives of the most marginalised members of society may actually make it harder for them to break the cycle of poverty if we aren’t attentive.
The Poverty Cycle (And How Technology May Accelerate Intergenerational Poverty)
In discussing intergenerational poverty, we’re referring to a cycle that restricts access to opportunities and social mobility. Families who are poor and without the means to improve their position sometimes struggle to share their knowledge and tools with their children in order to break the cycle. To live, children are taught that the only way they can get by is to focus on addressing their most basic requirements. A lot of the time, energy, and resources of people locked in this cycle are used to deal with the immediate issues of meeting their demands, rather than connecting with long-term resources.
But Does Technology Also Hold The Key To Reversing The Cycle Of Poverty?
Despite legitimate concerns that automation and AI would exacerbate the income divide, there is still reason to be optimistic.
For starts, we can refer at the Future of Life Institute’s 23 Asilomar AI Principles from 2017. These 23 guiding principles can serve as an ethical framework for integrating technology without marginalising those who are already marginalised. This list’s highlights include:
- No. 14, Shared Benefit. “As many people as possible should benefit and be empowered by AI technologies.”
- No. 23, Common Good. “Superintelligence should only be produced in the service of universal ethical goals and for the benefit of all humanity, not just one state or organisation.”
Technology is also helping organisations and individuals construct bridges to fairness and access in practical ways. A new Penn State guidebook investigates how technology can help people connect across generations to promote family and community bonds, as well as general health and wellness. According to the guidebook, “Technology is being utilised to create and foster new relationships, which leads to new learning and community participation opportunities. Several respondents mentioned how eliminating digital exclusion can help reduce social exclusion.” People trapped in poverty can better engage with resources and support systems that provide access to opportunities through minimising exclusion. Read more; Meta wants its Next VR Headset to Replace Your Laptop
Furthermore, technology is assisting communities in better informing themselves about how to better provide opportunities to people whose brains have been actually transformed by the constant stress of poverty. In a 2014 report, Dr. Elisabeth D. Babcock, whose EmPath programme aims to help people break free from poverty, said, “Although research into how social bias, persistent poverty, and trauma affect executive functioning is still in its early stages, many practical steps can be taken to use this knowledge to improve policies and programmes. Although little is known about the actual impact of such applications at this time, research suggests that the potential is enormous.”
Using brain data to develop more meaningful solutions for people caught in intergenerational poverty is one specific way that technology may make a significant difference. Living in this new digital terrain should be about pursuing research and establishing concrete digital systems that exploit humanity’s immense potential. We can collectively assist children break the pattern by developing and adhering to ethical norms aimed to prevent an increasing equality gap, then striving to create better methods to engage individuals who are poor. When people are able to break free, they can become productive members of society who are more than capable of finding solutions to today’s issues — problems that will become a distant memory tomorrow.
Technological Solutions to Poverty
1. Mobile Banking
Mobile banking allows the poor to a bank without incurring transaction fees or the requirement for a traditional, physical bank. According to a Brookings Institute Policy Brief, access to banking helps the poor secure their possessions and make sensible investments. They can save money without worrying about being robbed.
“One study from the Philippines found that access to formal savings enhanced women’s economic empowerment by increasing their control over household consumption decisions, children’s schooling, and family planning use,” according to Brookings.
Furthermore, mobile banking facilitates and streamlines direct cash transfer operations for assistance organisations.
2. Mobile Health Care
Cell phones provide access to medical information that would otherwise be unavailable to the poor. According to the Research Council of Norway, a recent Ghanaian study targets pregnant women who lack information on how to ensure good foetal growth. Weekly automated messages are sent to mothers to assist counteract superstition and pregnancy-related myths.
“All they need is a cheap mobile phone to receive these messages,” explains Jacqueline Miller Larsen of the Grameen Foundation in Ghana. “The health information they acquire in this way can have a significant impact on both the mother and the baby’s health.”
3. Access to clean water
More than 748 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and more than 2.5 billion people have insufficient sanitation. Every day, more than 1,400 children die from diarrhoea caused by contaminated water and poor sanitation. According to WaterAid, a non-profit dedicated to providing safe water and sanitation, access to safe water would not only slow the spread of diseases but would also return $4 in enhanced productivity for every $1 invested.
Such advancements are possible, and contemporary technology can help achieve water and sanitation goals. Practical Action, for example, collaborated with Kenyans from the dry, arid Turkana region to develop a drought-relieving remedy.
The organisation claimed, “We developed a solar-powered water pump that employs locally-sourced equipment to pump 30,000 clean litres of clean, safe water to the hamlet every day.”
4. Enhance Farming Techniques
According to the United Nations, agriculture is the primary source of income for the 1.4 billion people who live on less than $1.25 per day. Agricultural advancements, ranging from improved ploughing techniques to rice adapted to saltier water, have the potential to alleviate hunger for millions of people.
“We can do something revolutionary against hunger if we can get and invent new seeds, new mobile technology, and open new data centres to assist farmers connect their crop prices and understand weather unpredictability,” USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah told TIME. “And not simply a small percentage of those who are hungry.”
5. Expand Access to Education
Many children in rural areas, particularly impoverished girls, have restricted access to school. Furthermore, many of the schools available to rural students have low-quality teachers and little resources. However, modern technology such as solar-powered PCs and projectors allows students to engage in real-time, interactive lectures with qualified instructors. Ghana just launched Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed), its first interactive distance learning project, with backing from the British Department for International Development in Ghana, according to Ghana Web. This programme makes advantage of modern technologies to provide access to education that was previously unavailable.