When the Internet originally came into existence, people utilised it as a means of global communication and as a conduit for public knowledge. However, in the twenty-first century, the era of globalisation and information technology, the Internet has evolved into a vital force for societal advancement as well as a need for people’s daily life. But as the Internet has grown, its drawbacks have also shown, and this lack of variety has a negative impact on both society and people as a whole. Therefore, this blog will examine the risks of a lack of diversity in the internet’s growth from three perspectives: gender, economy, and information access.
Internet algorithms as a barrier to gender issues.
In Word2vec, a Google linguistic database, a hidden ‘sexism’ has been discovered, where words are embedded with a bias towards a male-centric perspective. Petreski and Hashim (2022) used simple analogies and comparisons of occupational or gender roles to show that male participants responded significantly more closely to the cue words than female participants. When the male was entered as programmer and the female as unknown, the automatic word embedded for the woman was housewife. This algorithm, which assumes women are housewives by default, also reflects the prevailing bias in society against women and solidifies both their disadvantage and the public stereotype of women, impeding the advancement of gender equality.
- What causes this bias in the ai algorithm?
Computer systems are developed by humans, and pre-existing gender bias is inserted into the algorithm code by technical teams, leading to algorithmic bias. As Friedman and Nissenbaum (1996) proposed, pre-existing bias in designers can be difficult to identify when hidden in code, and once developed, a biased system has the potential to have widespread impact. If the system becomes the standard in the field, bias will be ubiquitous.
The second impact of the Internet’s lack of diversity on society is felt in economic terms.
E-commerce, as a new marketing model in the Internet era, has broken the original spatial limitations through the assistance of the Internet, which serves as a medium to provide a place for different groups. Competition on the Internet allows businesses to innovate in order to better meet the needs of users. For example, on the 11th of November last year, China’s famous carnival shopping festival reached a turnover of 540.3 billion dollars. Secondly, e-commerce platforms are connecting small farmers to large markets, and more and more agricultural products are being sold online. A mobile phone and a selfie stick have become the “new farming tools” for poor households to get out of poverty and become rich, and live streaming of goods has emerged in rural e-commerce circles as a new way of helping the poor through consumption. At a social level, therefore, a lack of diversity on the Internet would be a ‘heavy blow’ to the social economy, and such homogeneity could lead to the marginalisation of poor areas once again and leave social and economic development in a state of stagnation (Everybody wants to rule the world; Internet monopolies, 2014). If this homogeneity is to completely monopolise the market with large enterprises, it creates extremely unfair competition for other enterprises, destroying the normal order of competition in the business sector and causing the solidification of interests, thus hindering the functioning of the social economy.
The impact of the lack of diversity in the online economy on individuals.
From the consumer’s perspective, the shift from a wide variety of shopping platforms to a fixed single platform has led to a loss of competitive pressure on platforms, a disruption of healthy competition leading to a lack of innovation on platforms and a monopoly on the online goods market disrupting the e-commerce market. The forced acceptance of a single, dominant shopping platform also reduces individual users’ enthusiasm for online shopping platforms and affects their shopping choices.
online information homogenization
A monolithic network is like an ‘information cocoon’ that only restricts people’s perceptions, fosters a single value system, and its terminology called echo chamber. This phenomenon reinforces stereotypes of existing views, and may even assimilate by wrong views, behaving in a way that, intentionally or unintentionally, obstructs the orderly conduct of the Internet, whereas the ‘internet’ means people around the world could share information and communicate in a virtual system, is a way to help the public perceive the world more comprehensively and to broaden their own horizons, If the internet lacks of diversity, then it can no longer be called the ‘internet’. For example, personal algorithmic recommendations in the internet nowadays are also silently inducing people’s mind to become homogenized in the hidden stream. People are highly abstracted and seen as a mnemonic point in the network information running through the internet, and the constant recommendations of similar and monolithic information favored by a user leads to differences in the reception of information, as well as single values or even antagonism, causing the brain to move towards an information cocoon. According to Pariser (as cited in Bozdag, 2013), the internet age has allowed more users to form their own unique views on the meaning of politics and current events. However, personal algorithms in the web also covertly filter posts made by individuals who lean towards another political position. This is the problem of the ‘lter bubble’ that Pariser raises. Explicit over-personalization prevents people from detecting and considering opposing viewpoints, and the behind-the-scenes processing of the web leaves users unaware of what they are missing online and therefore miss the opinions and voices that influence audience thinking.
the globalisation of the information age has steadily developed a virtualized and diversified social platform by making limited information easily accessible via the Internet. Along with this progress, the Internet’s flaws with regard to access to information, economics, and gender have also come to light, where conflicts are most acute is where society needs to address the real issues. Due to the lack of diversity in the Internet’s development is a long-term trend, it has had a significant impact on the growth of the Internet.
Bozdag, E. (2013). Bias in algorithmic filtering and personalization. Ethics and Information Technology, 15(3), 209–227. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10676-013-9321-6
Friedman, B., & Nissenbaum, H. (1996). Bias in computer systems. ACM Transactions On Information Systems, 14(3), 330-347. https://doi.org/10.1145/230538.230561
Petreski, D., & Hashim, I. (2022). Word embeddings are biased. But whose bias are they reflecting?. AI &Amp; SOCIETY. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00146-022-01443-w
Everybody wants to rule the world; Internet monopolies. (2014). The Economist (London), 413(8915), 19–.
Word2vec – Wikipedia. En.wikipedia.org. (2022). From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word2vec.