Shouting Zeros and Ones: Digital Technology, Ethics and Policy in New Zealand

Close up of Digital binary data on computer screen.

A new book edited by Dr Andrew Chen, Shouting Zeros and Ones: Digital Technology, Ethics and Policy in New Zealand (Bridget Williams Books, 2020), delves into the impacts of digital technology from the individual to the societal level.

It covers not only ‘hot’ topics such as the propagation of misinformation by social media, but also more hidden issues such as the use of AI in policy making.

Andrew discusses the book with the New Zealand Herald’s Jamie Morton here.

More information on the book:

This vital book is a call to action: to reduce online harm, to protect the integrity of our digital lives and to uphold democratic participation and inclusion.

A diverse group of contributors reveal the hidden impacts of technology on society and on individuals, exploring policy change and personal action to keep the internet a force for good. These voices arrive at a crucial juncture in our relationship to fast-evolving technologies.

Data flows around the world as computers trade in 0s and 1s, silently making decisions that affect all of us, every day. Meanwhile, we humans shout louder than ever before, spreading news and opinions through social media, polarising society and pitting ourselves against each other. What are the quiet, hidden impacts that technology is having on New Zealand and our collective psyche? How can we mitigate these impacts so that we can leverage technology sustainably, securely, and safely? A new book in the BWB Texts series, Shouting Zeros and Ones, aims to explore this dichotomy of quiet and loud, off and on in the way we use technology.

A lot has been written globally about how digital technology is changing our societies, but this book focuses on Aotearoa and is a call to action for New Zealanders.  Our government has the Integrated Data Infrastructure, which holds information about almost every person that steps foot in our country. We are making progress towards Indigenous and Māori Data Sovereignty, setting an example for the rest of the world. The Christchurch massacre happened on our soil, and our people have taken a leading role in reducing online harm and fighting online fascism so that real-world attacks like that may never happen again.

And we are not immune to the digital challenges that face the globe. Misinformation and disinformation run rampant online, threatening the integrity of information. The environmental impacts of globalised computing are too often swept under the rug in the name of convenience and cost. Predictive risk modelling is used by our government in a variety of sectors, including to inform parole decisions in criminal justice. Online voting is regularly posed a panacea to voter engagement, even though the evidence of effectiveness is weak at best. Digital inclusion/exclusion remains a significant challenge – a symptom of ongoing structural inequality in our society.

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