Forward Motion: The fourth industrial revolution is happening


Current smart technology ushered in the Fourth industrial revolution, a new era that integrates communications with automated industrial practices and traditional manufacturing.

In short, smart devices can make human intervention unnecessary: ​​machines communicate, self-diagnose and solve problems. While these new products and services may increase efficiency, analysts say they should be used as ethically as possible, given the impact on our lives.

Yet advances in AI, the internet of things (IoT), 3D printing, robotics, genetic engineering, quantum computing often blur the lines between the digital, physical and biological worlds.

For more than 20 years, technology has taken root in our lives. Email is mobile. Slack, Discord, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex are commonplace. And this reality ushers in a new set of complex challenges for business leaders to negotiate.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks at the National Security Commission Artificial Intelligence Global Emerging Technologies Summit July 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. The summit addressed challenges and solutions related to cybertechnologies and emerging technologies within government, international organizations and the private sector. (Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images)

the Fourth industrial revolution demands that technology products and services be more ethical and inclusive, according to Devon McGinnis, Selling powersenior director of marketing. Think of GPS systems that suggest the fastest route to a destination, voice-activated virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, personalized recommendations from Netflix, and Facebook’s ability to recognize your face and identify you. on a friend’s photo. “

The question is not whether the technology is good or bad, but how it is designed and used.

“You have to think about the information you collect when you design what you are going to collect, not collect everything and then say, ‘I shouldn’t have this information,” said Barbara Grosz, a research professor at Higgins. Of natural sciences. at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard.

To navigate the Fourth industrial revolution, companies should apply the following four strategies:

1. Design with frameworks that implement the product, policy, law and ethics to ensure that basic human rights are protected for every user.

2. Maintain diverse teams within the organization to generate information, provide feedback, and oversee products and services before they go to market.

3. Engage stakeholders and established leaders each quarter to guide the core principles and values ​​of the business.

4. Leverage data-driven research on emerging trends to assess risk and support a movement towards industry-wide applications of ethics while including all segments of society.

Such rules can serve as a model for companies navigating in unfamiliar waters.

Consumers love technology because it makes their lives easier. Businesses love technology because it makes money. However, consumers are tired of intrusive technology overstepping its role, and businesses, from Enron to Wells Fargo, can suffer revenue or reputational damage if ethics are not followed. Social networks have also been criticized for breaches of privacy.

Modern technology users are more aware of the misuse of personal data, the spread of false information and manipulation. They don’t want retailers to sell personal data without their consent; social media influencing the news they read; or corporate algorithms favoring certain groups of others.

Two computer programmers are working on the code. (Lisa Chau / Zenger)

Christen Buckley, PhD student at Penn State University, argues that data collection and use must be done with care – sophisticated data analysis can identify discrimination in voting, housing, education and other necessary areas of society, but it can also have negative consequences.

“More often than not, the way data is collected and used reinforces socio-economic divisions and power hierarchies. Generally, governments and businesses are surprisingly bad at protecting vulnerable communities and their data. The problematic collection and use of this data is only compounded by a “collect first, consider ethics later” mentality, Buckley wrote.

“The possibility of inadvertently profiling or revealing the membership of individuals in certain groups may be recognized, but addressing them is not a priority. “

Quantum computing is important in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here, the CEO of Intel Corp. Brian Krzanich delivers a speech at CES 2018 in Las Vegas on January 8, 2018 (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Grace Barkhuff, former product manager and now Georgia Tech graduate student, tries to determine a person’s rights online. These include the right to access the Internet, the right against online harassment and cyberattacks, the right to freedom of expression, equal access and treatment online, the right to property data, the right to personal intellectual property and the obligation to take into account the environmental impacts of digital use.

she wants to see General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, adopted in the United States in all sectors. The goal of the GDPR is to standardize data privacy laws across Europe.

“Did you know that if you have ever used [dating app] tinder, the company has what would be a filing cabinet full of data about you? Your preferences, the times you logged in, every conversation you’ve ever had, ”said Barkhuff. “They know when you’re feeling lonely. They know when you are going out or not. Tinder has no interest in removing this information, that is, until GDPR arrives and requires them to at least allow European users to request removal of their information.

An executive at cognitive AI technology company Supercharge Lab said companies are currently in a transition phase and companies are being forced to reassess their past practices.

“For organizations to compete in an evolving landscape of ‘rage against the business machine’, it is essential to create ethical applications of their solutions. This can be accomplished by first making sure to create technology that doesn’t hurt, and then constantly checking the results against a strong moral compass, ”said Anne Cheng, founder of the company, who specializes in research. executive strategy and operations management.

“Gen Z and the generations that follow will lead the change to ensure that only the good survive,” she said.

Edited by Fern Siegel and Bryan Wilkes


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