Power of Technology to Transform the World for Good

Technology is that magic wand powered by our choices and actions, which can unleash the potential of humanity’s inherent goodness, according to CP Gurnani, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra.

Technology has over the years revolutionized the way we live, work, relate to each other and to the external world. The world has already embraced Industry 4.0 –the powerful mix of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), industrial internet of things and digital technologies and is now about to enter the age of Industry 5.0, where humans will work alongside robots and smart machines.

The first meeting of the World Economic Forum—then called the European Management Symposium—happened at Davos in 1971. If we compare the world today to the world then, the transformation that we can see is immeasurable. The fact that today we are able to connect virtually with the help of technology, without having to be physically present at Davos, is a testimony to that fact.

While the pandemic led to a contraction in the economies of countries in the immediate term, the quicker adoption of advanced technologies has the potential to not only drive economic recovery, raise productivity and guide growth but also improve the well-being of people. It is now more than ever, that we must leverage technology to transform the world for good. So, what does that mean?

Technology will not transform lives on its own and is not innately good or bad, but it can produce positive or negative outcomes, depending on how it is utilised. I believe that it is our social responsibility to balance our natural human sensitivities along with the growing influence of technology in our lives. This will result in ‘responsible technology’, which will have a smart mix of ethics and human rights-based approach.

A Look at The Use of ‘Technology for Good’ in Today’s World

All told, adopting new-age technology is usually disruptive in the short-term. In the longer term, it is the positive aspects of technology that will drive future growth. As we can see, the access to the internet by way of smartphones is gradually reducing the divide between India and Bharat, as it brings in the much-needed inclusiveness and social transformation in a complex nation like India.

The coronavirus-induced lockdown across the world has led to accelerated adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies, driven by high-speed internet connectivity. Across the world, academia quickly adapted to online education. In the health care sector, acceptance of tele-health increased exponentially, AI played a major role in helping understand and track the spread of COVID-19. In workspaces, people started using more of collaboration and communication tools.

It is noteworthy to say that digitalization across sectors has done tremendous good to the society over the years. With the digitization of banks, the Indian government is now able to transfer money directly to the bank accounts of small farmers across the country using the Jan Dhan mechanism. Adoption of technologies such as cloud unleashed by the power of remote working enabling people across the world to continue their jobs during the pandemic. We are globally entering the era of gig workers, which means you can work from anywhere in the world. That has enabled more people to effectively join the workforce, especially women who had taken a break after having children and those who are differently abled. It will over time lead to a more diverse workforce.

The next few years will see the large-scale adoption of electric and autonomous vehicles that can help reduce air pollution in big cities. Also, EdTech is another emerging area, which can make education more accessible and affordable thus helping to reduce the divide between children in city schools and those in the villages. Technology can support development and innovation by creating a local ecosystem, thus connecting a community of people with shared interests, thereby empowering them to be resilient.

The pandemic has also exposed the weak links in the existing risk assessment frameworks and forced businesses to re-evaluate their business continuity planning practices and information flow. Technology plays a key role in capturing data in the desired format and timeframe and organizations must leverage technology to enable swifter decision making and improve business resilience.

Future of Technology to be More Humane and Responsible

The limitless possibilities powered by technology is just an example of how human ingenuity has the potential to create magic. As per a report by WEF, the key to using responsible technology is understanding the life cycle of technology which will allow us to better appreciate the ethics and human rights opportunities and risks of the technology in question, as well as the responsibility, control and leverage held by different actors across the technology value chain. With rapid adoption of technology, the need for social and emotional skills, including empathy, adaptability, innovative thinking, risk-taking and entrepreneurship, will experience a steep increase in demand.

The world would be significantly different in the next 10 years or so. From 10% of cars being driverless, to the first AI machine being part of business decision making, and connectivity touching around 95% of people on the planet, we are going to witness wonders. In all this, technology would help us think laterally, inclusively and creatively.

Technology perhaps has never been so present in our lives. Its ubiquity makes it an extremely powerful tool for delivering change that is positive for all of us. It is time for the world to move ahead together using the power of digital technologies.