“The study of thinking machines teaches us more about the brain than we can learn by introspective methods. Western man is externalizing himself in the form of gadgets.” ― William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
We are experiencing one of the biggest refugee crises since World War II. Within weeks of the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 4 million people fled the country, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Although international media attention is focused on Eastern Europe, this is on top of an already-desperate situation in the Global South: It is estimated that countries in that region of the world have absorbed two-thirds of an estimated 82.4 million global refugees.
The scenario in Eastern Europe and the Global South is one of a massive number of people who are crossing borders in a hurry, searching for shelter and protection, and needing basic conditions for their dignified stay in the country of destination. This is an enormously challenging situation, but new technology has helped those who arrive and those who receive migrants. Technology can help host countries manage large amounts of information to make vital decisions for their security and the security of those crossing their borders. It has also helped migrants in many ways, such as obtaining real-time geolocation, free stays via online real estate rental companies, and cryptocurrency donations; and fighting Internet blackouts and fake news.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can potentially mitigate situations such as the one we have observed in Ukraine in early 2022 and for years in the Global South. Using deontological and utilitarian perspectives to think through the pros and cons of using AI in the migratory context is a helpful exercise as this situation continues to evolve.