Mistrust and unequal access to technology highlighted by lockdown

Despite lockdown having increased engagement with technology, issues of trust and unequal access still remain, according to a new survey.

Research from Nesta and Mark Diffley Consultancy has concluded there is a need for improved access to technology both for developing new skills and for the public to have their say on how they are used in an ethical way.

While the Covid-19 lockdown led to greater reliance of technology, three quarters of people surveyed fear the impact it could have on the workforce, specifically the automation of jobs.

Fears were also raised over how society could become reliant on “contactless” technology, and a rise in faceless communications with loved ones.

The research also highlighted that some technological developments, both in the workplace and in society in a larger sense, are often seen as out of touch or elitist – especially for those from a lower income background.

However, the results show that as people’s knowledge and understanding of technology increases, so does their positivity towards those technologies.

Adam Lang, head of Nesta in Scotland, said: “This research shows that while people in Scotland are engaging with and viewing technology in a new light as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, for too many the benefits still seem out of reach and beyond their control.

“The technologies that are driving the fourth industrial revolution are increasingly shaping many aspects of our personal and professional lives.

“That’s why it’s vital that we work to shift control and better engage the Scottish public, increasing the provision of high-quality training and skills development and considering new ways for citizens to shape and inform how these technologies are used in the delivery of public services.

“All of this must be done with a focus on driving trust through open, ethical and transparent processes.

“The social upheaval caused the Covid-19 pandemic is a chance for Scotland to set out a bold ambition for a new digital enlightenment that creates more opportunities for people to learn about and be engaged in shaping a tech-driven future that benefits us all as citizens more equally.”

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