the past. Policymakers may still choose not to act, but not because of a lack of information.
Despite the rapid advances of technologies in recent years, several workshop participants wondered whether digital divides between individuals, groups, regions, and countries still limit progress in the application of technology to peacebuilding. As technologies have become less expensive and more widespread, concerns about creating a culture of information haves and have-nots have faded, Prabhakar Raghavan noted, although he recognized that digital divides have not completely disappeared. But Moore’s law, which holds that computing power roughly doubles every two years, promises that divides will continue to diminish as computing devices become cheaper and more powerful.
Lawrence Woocher wondered whether digital divides will persist as more advanced technologies appear. “Perhaps we shouldn’t assume that there’s going to be a convergence but just a continuing trajectory upward around the world, [with] different paces for different places.” Raghavan acknowledged that the divide may never completely disappear, but technologies no one thought would become global are becoming routine everywhere, even though they may not spread in their most advanced form.
Duncan Watts clarified that inequality in communications technology is substantially smaller than other forms of inequality, such as access to health care, clean water, transportation, or education, and may even help reduce some of these other forms of inequality. Innovation will almost always accrue first to the wealthier parts of the world, he said, but inequality is less striking in communications than in other areas.
The role of the private sector in both advancing technology and contributing to peacebuilding came up in several contexts. Hattotuwa expressed concern about the privatization of information, noting that he is more comfortable with information being held by the United Nations than by corporations or other private organizations. Even when corporations want to be helpful, they may use information in a manner that differs from the expectations of the people who provided it.