About Technology & Human Rights

This site examines the social and cultural implications of information & communication technology (ICT) on human rights, humanitarian action, and social change. Emerging uses of mobile, digital, Internet, and networked technologies are potentially transforming human rights initiatives they they intersect with humanitarian action, disaster and crisis response, emergency management, global health initiatives, global affairs, and foreign policy.

Background:

Technology is a general term for the wide array of information and communication technology developed and used by individuals, groups, cultures, and societies. While we might think of ICTs as characteristic of contemporary high-tech societies, information and communication have been important since the beginning of human history. The need for people to record, process, and  communicate information about religious rituals, historic battles, or numbers of bartered goods likely gave rise to ICTs like cave drawings, cuneiform writing tablets, and the abacus.

This difference today is that ICTs are developed faster and used by more people on a scale hitherto unseen. Advancements in electronic and digital technologies have given rise to the ICTs we are familiar with today, from mass media such as radio, television and film, to cable, computers, and satellites, to mobile phones, the Internet, and social media. Consider that all of these inventions occurred in the last 120 years. Increasingly, many of the ICTs advanced societies are dependent on in daily life will have been invented in the last 3-15 years.

Other catchphrases for this monumental shift include the media/digital/information/computer/communication “revolution,” Post-Industrial Society, Third Wave, Information Society, Internet Culture, Convergence Culture, Network Society, mediated society, hyperreality, and the knowledge/information/ideas economy.

Technologies both shape and are shaped by the collective actions and ideas of our society and culture. Emerging digital and networked ICTs are transforming the worlds of business, entertainment, politics, military, and education to name a few. What are the implications for human rights and humanitarian action? What makes human rights unique in relation to emerging digital and networked technologies and practices?

This site is maintained by Camilla Graham Wood & Mark Latonero. For more information see latonero.com.

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