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The Walls Have Eyes: Exploring Border Technologies with Petra Molnar

The Business of Tech
The Business of Tech
The Walls Have Eyes: Exploring Border Technologies with Petra Molnar

In this podcast episode, Petra Molnar, a lawyer and anthropologist specializing in border technologies, emphasized the critical point that technology is far from neutral. She highlighted how technology mirrors and perpetuates power dynamics in society, underscoring the significant impacts it can have on individuals if not carefully considered during the innovation process. This concept is essential to grasp as it illuminates the broader implications of technological advancements on society.

Replication of Power

Power Imbalance: Technology often mirrors and reinforces existing power imbalances within society. Those with more resources and influence can shape the development and deployment of technology, potentially leading to biases and discriminatory outcomes.

Impact on Marginalized Groups: The replication of power dynamics in technology can disproportionately affect marginalized groups, such as refugees, migrants, and individuals facing legal proceedings. These vulnerable populations may bear the brunt of technological solutions that prioritize control and surveillance over human rights and dignity.

Considerations for Innovation

Ethical Frameworks: Molnar suggested that considering ethical frameworks is a starting point for technologists. However, she cautioned that ethics alone may not be sufficient to address the complex societal implications of technology.

Regulation and Governance: While ethics provide a moral compass, regulatory frameworks are necessary to enforce accountability and ensure that technology serves the common good. Molnar highlighted the importance of robust regulations tailored to specific contexts to address the real-world impacts of technology.

Collaboration and Multidisciplinary Approach

Inclusive Innovation: Molnar stressed the need for collaboration between different disciplines and lived experiences in the innovation process. By engaging with diverse perspectives, including those directly impacted by technology, technologists can gain a deeper understanding of the potential consequences of their innovations.

Human-Centered Design: Taking a human-centered approach to technology development involves prioritizing the well-being and rights of individuals over technological advancement. By centering the needs and experiences of users, technologists can create solutions that empower and benefit society as a whole.


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