03/04/2021

Globally connected?

Digitalisation should also benefit less developed countries. But how? A new project asks what’s still missing.

Investments in digitalisation have enormous potential to radically change almost all areas of the economy and life: from agriculture, industry and finance to education, health and human rights. The United Nations hopes to achieve the goals of the Agenda 2030 through technological progress and thus reduce hunger, poverty and disease.

However, in countries like Brazil, Mexico or South Africa, highly developed technology models such as e-democracy cannot yet be implemented one-to-one. "Often there is less or no right to data protection in other countries, and fewer people have access to the internet", emphasises Mahshid Sotoudeh from the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

What is the “best” benefit?

Together with ITA-researchers Michael Ornetzeder, Tanja Sinozic and Johann Čas, Sotoudeh is participating in the EU project PRODIGEES. The project aims to create a better understanding of digital transformation processes and the various impacts of innovations on sustainable development in different world regions.

"Digitalisation can improve living conditions. It can support distance learning and education. It is also essential for building contemporary infrastructure and access to information. But there is a flip side: In countries of the Global South - such as Mexico or Brazil - there is a lack of access to digital services for all population groups. Data protection regulation has to be improved on a global level."

Cooperation with Brazil and Indonesia

Nutrition and health are a focus of Sotoudeh's work. She is planning an exchange with the CSIS Centre in Indonesia: "How can digitalisation support people to get safe information about the origin of food and the production method? How can consumers inform themselves about healthy and affordable nutrition? Will this information also change consumer behaviour?"

ITA economist Tanja Sinozic will focus on artificial intelligence companies during her visit to Brazil. She asks about the awareness of social and economic responsibility in AI innovations. Security expert Johann Čas will shed light on ethical and data protection aspects of AI in Brazil. Michael Ornetzeder will focus on sustainability and governance aspects of the energy transition.