Objectivity or rationality in decision making depends upon availability, quantity and quality of data. Excessive usage of digital technology has raised questions regarding its impact on quality of decisions.
Digital technologies can act as a reliable source of input for rational decision making as shown below:
- Digital technologies have made it easier to collect and collate data and convert it into meaningful information using various algorithms. For example: Different surveys like census, NFHS etc. for deciding policy intervention.
- Digital technology can enable data sharing and monitoring in real time, helping in identifying bottlenecks and undertaking necessary reforms. For example: online dashboards for tracking status of project implementation.
- Digital technology helps in integrating data and information spread across different departments, ministries and geographies. Thus, providing holistic picture of situation and help in taking objective decisions.
- Big data analysis can predict future progression of an event like climate change, Covid-19 outbreak etc. This gives a warning for making rational decisions and course corrections.
- Digital technology has made it easier to spread information and make people aware. For example: promotion of Covid appropriate behaviour.
However, digital technologies may not act as reliable source of input for rational decision making as shown below:
- Digital technologies may not capture all the set of data required for making rational decisions. For example: Unbanked people may be left out if economic policy is based solely on digital information.
- Digital technologies have resulted in targeted messages changing the attitude of recipient and manipulating them. For example: During election campaigns.
- Social media has created an infodemic of unverified information creating confusions and cognitive dissonance. For example: Various fake news related to Covid-19.
- Bounded rationality: People act in accordance with their own perception of situation. So even when all information are available people may not act rationally.
- Digital technologies are devoid of human emotions. Peoples are represented as set of 1s and 0s. Decisions based on such information can lead to mechanical rationality where principles of compassion and fairness are violated.
Thus, digital technology can provide information but objectivity of decisions is also based on human values, attitudes and conscience.