Critical Moment Arrives for Achieving an Equitable Digital Future

Fallon S. Wilson, Ph.D. is a Co-Founder of the #BlackTechFutures Research Institute housed at Stillman College. Memphis, Tennessee, one of the cities assessed in Dreaming of a Black Tech Future: A Digital Equity Assessment of Local Black Tech Ecosystem. Shutterstock Technologists and tech enthusiasts have been buzzing about the potential benefits and dangers of artificially intelligent (AI) software programs, such as ChatGPT.  With such gains in popularity and use, many industries are on the verge of disruption. Artists worldwide saw their industries turn as programs like Lensa prompted security concerns and when AI-generated artwork won a state fair competition, leaving human artists outraged. Further, health professionals are now having conversations about whether AI technology is better than doctors at detecting breast cancer. In all of the national discourse, one thing is clear: AI software is the present and it is the future. But how prepared are we to manage the ripple effects these computer-generated systems will have on our way of life – especially in Black communities in the United States? When a report from McKinsey and Company estimates that Black workers, highly situated in support roles, are more likely to lose their jobs to automation and when 50 percent of Black workers have limited or no digital skills, it is clear that we are ill-prepared. In this computer-generated, post-pandemic context, Black people’s health – their actual ability to maintain or regain their health to stay alive – is even at risk. Sixty-three percent of Black adults report not having…Critical Moment Arrives for Achieving an Equitable Digital Future