Ray Kurzweil said, “There are downsides to every technology. The fire kept us warm but also burned down our villages.”
Technology is redefining almost every aspect of our daily lives, from social relations to our psychological meaning-making. The promise of the dot-com bubble is finally coming true, with technology companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook leading the pack of most valuable companies of 2021. The fire has picked up, and the task of tending the fire has become more critical than ever.
Trust is the needed ingredient. 2020 has been one of the worst years for cybersecurity, with around 737 million files data breaches, up 67% since 2014. If businesses are transforming digitally, we need to ensure that our data is secure and the system is fair as a user. Without digitization of trust, we will derail the progress of digital business transformation and become vulnerable individuals with compromised security.
Even after 2 million years, we are still learning about fire; the question of Digital Trust is a long overhaul. Unlike fire, however, in technology, we have a choice to embed the change at a deeper systemic level. It can evolve at three levels:
Survival: At the minimum, the data we provide as users must be safe, secure, and protected. Foundations like the Swiss Digital Initiative are working to create Digital Trust labels for online companies as a security benchmark
Moral & Ethical: AI replicates the past patterns to find future solutions. With this, it has also perpetuated the old biases of our society, e.g., Amazon AI recruiting system rejected CV’s of women if no woman has ever been on that post. The call to have built-in ethics in the system is gaining momentum.
Futuristic: Futuristic technology is about going inside our skin. Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics (GNR) aims to know us better than we know ourselves by interfacing with our bodies. The aim to tackle aging also comes with multiple ethical questions on human freedom.
As we move towards digitizing the core facets of society, the moral and ethical questions we could have avoided in the past are staring in our faces for answers. Our conscious participation is vital to ensure that the technologies designed for us are worthy of our trust. We deserve technology that keeps us warm rather than destroys our village.