Digital transformation should be socially and ethically responsible

Digital transition in the EU should be underpinned by respect for European values and supported by more robust social policies so as to ensure that no one is left behind. European society as a whole workers, companies and the general public alike – should instead be able to benefit from the huge potential offered by new technologies, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) said at its July plenary.

In its opinion on EU concepts for transition management in a digitalised world of work, requested by the Austrian Presidency of the EU, the Committee lists a number of priorities for the EU which should make sure that the benefits of digitalisation can be reaped. They include upskilling European workers, strengthening social security systems and ensuring diversity in the workplace so that, for example, jobs in digital sectors are no longer dominated by men.

The EESC warned, however, that investment in social policies accounted for only 0.3% of total public expenditure in the EU, and said that this should be beefed up.

Reiterating its support for a “human-in command” approach to digitalisation, the EESC said it encouraged the development of socially responsible artificial intelligence that served the common good.

“The lack of clarity surrounding how algorithms work and how they make the choices that are beyond human control poses massive challenges for the EU and fundamental questions about the society we want to live in,” the EESC concluded. (ll)