Dispatch from the Digital Planet: December 2022

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Dear Reader,
The end of the year is a time for reflection and gratitude. With 2022 drawing to a close, my team and I look back at all we have learned, and are grateful to you for engaging with us and our research.
We kicked off 2022 with a look back at the pandemic, and how it changed our lives online. Through analyzing who came online for the first time during the pandemic, we found that while the pandemic sparked an increase in internet access, the progress to parity across dimensions of gender, socioeconomic status, and geography was mostly uneven—though there were a few bright spots.
We examined just how vital access to broadband is—for some it was a matter of life and death. With the growing evidence of the importance of broadband, we analyzed the Biden administration's ambitions to bridge the digital divide, with an interactive tool for policymakers, practitioners, and advocates.
We shifted our view towards the horizon, and explored how growth in the AI sector might benefit from a more diverse talent pool, while also unpacking the lack of diversity among major employers of STEM graduates in the US. We followed this analysis with recommendations on how to improve diversity at tech companies. We examined how and why AI failed us in the pandemic, and the lessons learned on how to make AI better. Meanwhile, we analyzed the impact of the war on the growing tech sector in Ukraine, and hosted conversations with industry leaders in the country.
We learned about just how powerful a multiplier digital technologies can be in supporting smallholder farmers and advancing inclusion and sustainability in the global south and studied how divides can manifest in the global north in the absence of policy interventions and how countries like Germany are advancing innovation without trading off digital inclusion.
We began monitoring the pulse of online communities around the world and tracked the travails of Twitter through Elon Musk's takeover—the roller coaster of sentiments experienced across five countries and how the platform had deteriorated, right ahead of the US midterms.
A group of 113 digital economy policymakers and practitioners from around the world participated in our much acclaimed pilot cohort of our 'Imagining a Digital Economy for All: Leadership Series' (IDEALS) course.
We rounded out the year with our Defeating Disinformation Un-Conference, which brought together experts from academia, industry, and civil society to explore and weigh in on the challenges facing the digital public sphere.
We have much to be grateful for this year. We're thankful for the supporters of our work—Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Omidyar Network, Mastercard, and Western Union—for being such wonderful partners in our journey to discover life on the Digital Planet. We've had the pleasure of working with several partners over this past year: Ripple Research, Next Century Cities, Dalberg, Digital Frontiers Institute, the World Economic Forum, and the Center for International Law and Governance, and the Leir Institute at The Fletcher School.
We're particularly lucky to work with the creative minds at SunnySideUp, our design firm, who add life to our charts and visual presence. We're thankful for our colleagues at Tufts University, who spark holiday cheer year-round and are some of our most enthusiastic cheerleaders. We're extremely proud and appreciative of all our immensely talented student analysts, who bring their intellectual curiosity and analytical smarts to improve our work.
Finally, we are grateful for you—the readers of our work—for cheering us on. You share our work widely, engage with our research deeply, and help us achieve change. We hope that you too have learned a great deal over the past year, and we look forward to continuing to work with you and our partners toward realizing a digital economy that works for everyone, everywhere.
Happy Holidays!
image Bhaskar Chakravorti
Chair, Digital Planet
Mallika Shankar
Undergraduate Research Analyst
The AI for good project. Understanding the role of AI in the agricultural sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.
There are multiple startups and projects in place around Sub-Saharan Africa to help increase crop yield through the use of AI, however, one of the biggest problems is being able to access funding so that AI can be provided to farmers across the country and this doesn't just include giving them the technology but also helping adapt their farming ways to generate increased crop yield.
Using data analysis to formulate macroeconomic policy that can help support the world creating a brighter future.
Defeating Disinformation: Advancing Inclusive Growth and Democracy through Global Digital Platforms
With hateful and harmful content ramping up around elections and conflicts around the globe, disinformation is thriving. We examined its implications and impact on the global community, as well as how it can be countered through collective effort.
Impactful research requires resources.
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Digital Planet is an interdisciplinary research initiative of The Fletcher School's Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) dedicated to understanding the impact of digital innovation on the world and providing actionable insights for policymakers, businesses, investors, and innovators.
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