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Technology and Inequality Roundtable Series: summary of discussions

Digital inclusion Digital divide Social inequality Digital literacy Digital transformation United Kingdom

In November 2022, the British Academy convened three roundtable events, as part of its project on Technology and Inequality for the Government Office for Science (UK). This project seeks to improve our understanding of how government can play a key role in supporting access to, uptake of, and investment in technologies that can be critical to delivering broad public objectives, in a way that ensures that inequalities do not become entrenched.

This roundtable series focused on the question - How can digital technologies be harnessed to improve policies that tackle inequality, their design, and the equitable delivery of public services? Each roundtable convened a different set of stakeholders - local authorities, central government, and the private sector - examining their roles in tackling inequality, their relationships to digital technologies, and how different forms of data can be integrated to better understand and tackle inequality.

Given that more and more public and private services are moving to online forms of delivery, the pertinence of this question will only increase as the ability to engage digitally becomes more essential to interacting fully with society and the economy. Digital skills are becoming increasingly tied to people’s opportunities to find employment, access services, and to receive redress. There are therefore significant economic costs associated with digital exclusion, while investments in digital skills create benefits for the wider economy.

This document summarises the key insights that emerged during these three roundtable events and is included in the Academy’s Technology and Inequality project evidence hub. Remarks from participants have been anonymised, synthesised and grouped under relevant headings.

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