Are Digital Platforms Solutions to Public Problems? Perspectives from Southeast Asia


Single Panel


Session 7
Thu 16:00-17:30 Room 3.07


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Reflecting global trends, Southeast Asian societies are increasingly relying on private digital technologies to solve social problems, which are traditionally handled by governments accountable to the public. Through algorithms that facilitate human transactions, digital platforms indeed offer benefits. Societies have used digital platforms to lessen unemployment, democratise finance, improve transport, and connect small vendors to vast markets. Many even speak of a post-pandemic society ever more reliant on the digital platforms. But given this increasing reliance, we need make nuanced assessments of the positive, negative, and complex implications of using private digital platforms to solve public problems. The panel tackles this urgent topic by defining providing perspectives from various angles:
• Sectoral: Digital platforms operate in sectors such as online labour, fintech, ecommerce, and ride-hailing, etc. How have these helped and/or hindered people?
• Political: What is the government’s response to the increasing scope of digital platform firms in solving public problems?
• Critical: Beyond the advantages of digital platforms, what possible problems arise when we use private digital platforms to solve public problems?
The panel welcomes contributions that leverage social science analysis and empirical studies that make nuanced assessments of the benefits and risks of relying on private digital platforms to solve public problem. These efforts help us ideate solutions and safeguards to ensure that digital platforms become a force of social good.