Exposing Technowashing to Mitigate Technosocial Inequalities

By on June 21st, 2020 in Social Implications of Technology

The term whitewashing is a metaphor derived from the practice of applying substances onto surfaces of walls to conceal unwelcome elements, thereby giving the eye-gate a false impression. Thus, the reality of the situation is surreptitiously glossed over. Greenwashing is a label for an organization that creates a false portrayal of environmentally friendly practices or products. Redwashing refers to an organization that claims exemplary corporate citizenship; yet such companies may sponsor humanitarian programs for indigenous groups, while destroying the lands of these same populations.

Technowashing is a more convoluted and imperceptible form of glossing over reality in the digital realms.

History is often whitewashed; our peers reviewed literary works and appropriately questioned unexplained omissions in otherwise-encyclopedic accounts of artificial women. Our community also confronted the ableist rhetoric; we perceive far-reaching impacts when historical narratives downplay or omit the disabilities of men and women. We can now better discriminate technoableism [1]; we recognize those with disabilities as experts with unique perspectives and invaluable input. We can better forfend inequitable development and deployment of technologies, thus avoiding inadvertently disempowering those whose bodies and minds run a wide gamut [1].

We exposed modes of technowashing, a far more convoluted and imperceptible form of glossing over reality in the digital realms. We addressed the way marketers, while attempting to feign such constructs as trust and loyalty, are concealing processes to create digital dependence. We tackled the airbrushed realities of technosocial inequalities. Our community brought to light digital exclusions; authors recommend methodologies that would equitably include favelas on the maps of Rio de Janeiro, and those that would integrate Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) into system design [2].

Our colleagues also guided us to recognize and avoid redwashing by approaching projects with an ethical framework, and with publicly accessible governance toolkits. With these methodologies, we can better empower humanitarian actors to achieve responsible innovation during such controversial projects as the development and deployment of drones [3].

As we pulled back the proverbial veneers in this issue of T&S Magazine, we chose not to gloss over, cover up, or conceal elements, but rather courageously excavate, address, and appropriately value all facets. We recognize the necessity of diverse parties in order to construct veritable e-inclusion solutions for all in society. We thus can better mitigate technosocial inequalities.

Author Information

Christina Perakslis

Christine Perakslis is Associate Professor in the MBA Program, College of Management, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI. Email: christine.perakslis@jwu.edu.


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