Digitalization and Its Impact on Justice in the World
In our quest for a more compassionate world that uplifts the marginalized through empowerment rather than exploitation, it is crucial to address the unjust distribution of wealth. There are institutions and countries that exploit the poor, perpetuating a cycle of deprivation and inequality. This essay examines the detrimental effects of digitalization on justice, particularly with regard to wealth disparity and poverty.
The world grapples with a staggering wealth gap where the rich continue to amass fortunes while the poor sink deeper into poverty. The World Bank's recent study highlights that eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 seems unlikely without achieving unprecedented economic growth rates. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to poverty reduction efforts, hindering progress made since 1990. Furthermore, conflicts like the one in Ukraine serve as a grim warning, suggesting that the situation may worsen.
The proliferation of social media platforms, mobile phone applications, and artificial intelligence has yielded both immense wealth and widespread poverty. Shocking statistics shed light on the alarming wealth disparity prevailing today. For instance, Forbes' 2023 ranking of the world's wealthiest individuals reveals that 2,640 billionaires hail from 77 countries or territories, indicating a profound lack of justice in wealth distribution.
It is imperative to establish a global economic system that curtails the harshness of unchecked capitalism and introduces mechanisms for equitable wealth distribution. The current reality, where approximately 828 million people suffer from hunger according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, is unacceptable. This number represents an increase of around 150 million since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disturbingly, the World Food Program reported that out of the 828 million hungry individuals, 345 million faced acute hunger. Within just three months, the number of people experiencing acute hunger surged by 25%, primarily due to the conflict in Ukraine. Even in 2021, approximately 193 million people endured acute hunger.
However, the figure of 828 million hungry people is not the sole manifestation of global food insecurity. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 2.3 billion people face less extreme but still perilous levels of food insecurity, accounting for roughly 29% of the global population. Alarming data from 2020 reveals that 3.1 billion people worldwide could not afford a healthy diet, representing an increase of over 119 million compared to 2019.
Despite these distressing circumstances, there seems to be no indication that major powers are actively pursuing justice. The outlook appears discouraging. However, humanity must strive to rectify the harshness of capitalism and infuse it with compassion; otherwise, a world devoid of mercy will leave the hungry in despair.
In conclusion, the digital era has both positively transformed society and exacerbated inequalities. Wealth distribution remains heavily skewed, with the rich becoming richer while poverty persists and deepens. Urgent action is needed to create a global economic system that values justice and reduces the disparity between the privileged and the marginalized. Only by addressing these issues can we forge a more humane world, where compassion triumphs over exploitation, and justice reigns supreme.
* Vice Dean of the Faculty of Media, Middle East University.