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Potential Implications of Accelerating Technological Change and Hyperconnectivity

Ethical and security implications of S&T developments need to be continuously assessed for their safe development to the benefit of society as a whole.

Ethical digitalisation

Algorithms play an increasingly important role in governing our life. Hence, the codes of ethics that rule algorithms-writing, access and use of data and the way we address AI will have a determining impact on our future.

  • AI is bringing many benefits to our society, including greater inclusion and access to information, goods and services. Nevertheless, it also carries significant risks, including increasing digital inequality--currently, the fastest growing inequality. 
  • Social and economic gaps have to be addressed, technology literacy and skills increased, and education system updated. A coherent tech/digital-literacy program is needed to avoid new divides, fragmentations, polarisation and isolation.
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  • Automation and robotization are considerably increasing productivity. However, policies should align productivity increase with income, tax and social contributions of business, to address unemployment and re-skilling, while also funding more research to assure the safe use of technologies for humanity and the planet.
  • EU's network of Digital Innovation Hubs could help developing local solutions in Europe for addressing training and developing partnerships for a safe and socially ethical AI development.

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  • Standardization is a key aspect to support the development of new technological enablers aligned with regulatory efforts 
  • The European High Level Group on Artificial Intelligence is drafting ethics guidelines -- to be open for feedback from the European AI Alliance at the end of 2018 -- for a safe and ethical AI development. 
  • International standards need to be adopted for a safe and equitable development of IoT and other technological applications.
  • New consumer policies could be needed given that the Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the “smart home” carry a lot of benefits — convenience, customisation and control — but also potential risks, such as data privacy and cybersecurity threats, limitations on interoperability, product support and liability regimes.
  • Such potential risks could be addressed through proper security and privacy mechanisms. These aspects are widely considered by institutions such as NIST in U.S, or ENISA at EU level. 
  • IoT standardization activities are addressed by organizations across the world, such as:
    • European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), which is also part of the oneM2M initiative
    • International Organization for Standardization (ISO) through the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 41- Internet of Things and related technologies
    • ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), in particular, the Study Group 20 on "IoT and its applications including smart cities and communities”
    • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) with different activities such as the IEEE P2413 Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems is an incubation space for new standards and solutions, certifications and codes of conduct, and consensus building for ethical implementation of intelligent technologies.
  • IEEE Standards for the future of ethical intelligent and autonomous technologies:
    • IEEE P7000™for Model Process for Addressing Ethical Concerns During System
    • IEEE P7001™for Transparency of Autonomous Systems
    • IEEE P7002™for Data Privacy Process
    • IEEE P7003™for Algorithmic Bias Considerations
    • IEEE P7004™for Standard on Child and Student Data Governance
    • IEEE P7005™for Standard on Employer Data Governance
    • IEEE P7006™for Standard on Personal Data AI Agent Working Group
    • IEEE P7007™for Ontological Standard for Ethically driven Robotics and Automation Systems
    • IEEE P7008™for Standard for Ethically Driven Nudging for Robotic, Intelligent and Autonomous Systems
    • IEEE P7009™for Standard for Fail-Safe Design of Autonomous and Semi-Autonomous Systems
    • IEEE P7010™for Wellbeing Metrics Standard for Ethical Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems
    • IEEE P7011™for the Process of Identifying and Rating the Trustworthiness of News Sources
    • IEEE P7012™for Machine Readable Personal Privacy Terms.
    • IEEE P7013™for Inclusion and Application Standards for Automated Facial Analysis Technology.
    • IEEE P7014™for the Standard for Ethical considerations in Emulated Empathy in Autonomous and Intelligent Systems
  • USA National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)has released a plan for prioritizing federal agency engagement in the development of standards for artificial intelligence (AI).
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO) through the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 42- Artificial Intelligence:
    • ISO/IEC 20546:2019 Information technology -- Big data -- Overview and vocabulary
    • ISO/IEC TR 20547-2:2018 Information technology -- Big data reference architecture -- Part 2: Use cases and derived requirements
    • ISO/IEC TR 20547-5:2018 Information technology -- Big data reference architecture -- Part 5: Standards roadmap
  • OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence adopted by forty-two countiesagreeing to uphold international standards that aim to ensure AI systems are designed to be robust, safe, fair and trustworthy.

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Strategic aspects

A global collective intelligence system to track S&T advances, forecast consequences, and document a range of views could help understand the potential consequences of new and possible future S&T developments.

A "Technology-readiness Index" (similar to the German IW Digital Index) could assess and map the degree of technological-readiness (of companies and policy support) to assist policy and strategy design for regions and sectors, to encourage start-ups and faster and synergetic implementation of new technologies.

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  • The media and policy organization could increase communication about accelerating advances in S&T, to encourage policy discourse, teaching in schools, and general public knowledge and debate.
  • Innovative business models and policies could enable more intelligent use of new technologies.
  • Smart-city developments could prioritise on healthy lifestyle of increasingly independent and informed citizens. 

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  • While technology is continuously improving living standards, they could also increase threats. Ethical and security implications of some S&T developments are needed to be assessed for their safe developments for the benefit of society. | Related Megatrends: InequalitiesSecurity
  • Foresight and creativity methods and dialogues with technology experts could be used to assess future potential malicious use of new technologies.
  • Funding of R&D for societal needs could be on parity with funding for weapons.
  • Networks of CDC-like centers could be created to counter impacts of bioterrorism, and agreement should be reached on enforcement mechanisms for the Biological Weapons Convention;
  • Lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) could be included under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to avoid their misuse and the third revolution in warfare;
  • Technological transfer to emerging geopolitical powers (e.g. China) could be conditioned by respect of peaceful-use requirements; 
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  • Space research spinoffs are benefitting life on Earth in a variety of domains, from medical care and software to agricultural production and vehicle efficiency.
  • China's landing on the Dark Side of the Moon in January 2019 is part of the exploration program for space mineral resources. China also plans a permanent space station by 2022 and to put a man on the Moon within the next decade and to launch its first Mars probe in 2020.
  • The USA plans to send a crew to orbit and land on Mars by mid-2030.
  • Extraterrestrial entrepreneurship is growing, with the private sector increasingly set to both space travel/tourism, as well as exploration for new resources. Rocket launches by private companies are increasing—from Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Japan’s Interstellar Technologies or the Romanian ARCA.
  • Space elevators between Earth and orbit may give low-cost access to space, and longer-range options for space travel are being explored, such as matter-antimatter reactions, fusion, ion drive, photonic propulsion, plasma ejection, and solar sails.
  • By 2022, macroscopes could enable a better understanding of Earth's complexity by combining data from satellites, smart sensors, and weather stations, offering the possibility to better assess climate change trends, improve water and food use and distribution, and even to predict asteroid collisions.
  • Space-based solar power systems could – along with other forms of sustainable green energy sources – achieve the
    full-renewable energy revolution and address anthropogenic climate change and fossil fuel dependency.
  • The first prototypes of technologies for lunar conditions settlements might ride onboard a lunar mission by 2024-2025. Initiatives like The Moon Race global competition are encouraging these developments. 

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