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Digital Ability Expectations and Marginalization in Automated Societies

As data becomes the resource that (dis)enables people to unlock the promises of the digitised world, underprivileged individuals and communities face additional marginalization.

In this event we examine and theorise these forms of marginalisation highlighting that the existing data economy is predicated on the exclusion and marginalisation of disadvantaged segments of the population who fail to meet digital ability expectations and reach prescribed data norms. Engaging with critical disability scholarship, we address calls to expand the scope of ableism by taking into account ability expectations relating to technological advancements.

To that end, we introduce the notions of data ableism, and its flipside, data disablism that encapsulate privileged ability expectations pertaining to data production and the resulting forms of exclusion that are prevalent in automated societies. Underlining the intersectional nature of data ableism, we discern its two main mechanisms, data (in)visibility and data (un)desirability, and document the role of free market ideology in producing and upholding data ableism.