Bridging the Digital Divide: Challenges and Solutions in the Age of AI

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that around 2.6 billion people are denied access to digital technology

by Sededin Dedovic
Bridging the Digital Divide: Challenges and Solutions in the Age of AI
© Leon Neal / Getty Images

Doreen Bogdan-Martin (Doreen), the first woman at the head of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), having assumed the post almost a year and a half ago, faces deep concerns about the potential negative consequences related to the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI).

However, her greatest fear lies in the digital divide, which is increasingly widening the gap between those who have access to digital technology and those who are excluded from it. ITU estimates that around 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to the Internet and digital technologies.

This number represents a huge challenge because, as Bogdan-Martin points out, without digital access, people are excluded not only from the world of artificial intelligence, but also from many aspects of modern life. It is a problem that has become one of the most important challenges for today's generation.

To close this gap, the UN has set an ambitious goal - to raise $100 billion by 2026. However, Bogdan-Martin warns that four times more funds will be needed to really close the gap. Additionally, as AI technology continues to advance, the gap could become even wider.

The Secretary General of the ITU, whose agency organizes important events such as the annual forum called "AI for Good", recognizes the many positive aspects that artificial intelligence can bring to society. This includes strengthening the fight against climate change and poverty, improving education and health care, and managing resources more efficiently.

However, Bogdan-Martin points out that there are also serious risks that need to be addressed. As a nascent technology, artificial intelligence carries the potential for abuse, including the spread of misinformation that can seriously undermine public trust.

Increasingly sophisticated disinformation methods are becoming more difficult to detect, creating a serious threat to society. In light of these challenges, Bogdan-Martin emphasizes the need for global cooperation and coordination to ensure that technological progress goes hand in hand with social and economic progress.

This requires the engagement of all relevant actors, including government organizations, the private sector, civil society and the academic community. Creating an inclusive digital world requires not only investment in infrastructure and technology, but also the development of policies and programs that will ensure that the benefits of digital transformation are available to all, regardless of their socioeconomic status or geographic location.