This article was written by Anita Gurumurthy and Amay Korjan for the German NGO Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung (Forum on Environment and Development), which is a civil-society network that coordinates the activities of German NGOs in international political processes on sustainable development and environmental issues.
An abridged version of the article was translated into German and published in the NGO's Rundbrief magazine for its 2023 issue on 'techno-fixes'. This version can be accessed here.
Technological progress and digital solutions are repeatedly invoked as a cure for global inequality. However, such demands for technological transfer and inclusion obscure the novelty of the digitalization paradigm and its unique set of problems; from the domination by US and Chinese behemoths, to its disruptive relationship with traditional economic sectors, and extractivist and neo-colonial tendencies. Furthermore, complicated tensions with the climate question create dynamics that need to be confronted. Digital technologies may have the potential to contribute to sustainable and inclusive development, but tapping this potential will require a wider systemic transformation and a dismantling of the digital status quo.