Can connected technology ever become more ethical?

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Thanks to advances on mobile connectivity, we are now able to connect to most devices through our mobile phones. Moving forwards, the opportunities to expand beyond simple connections to mobile phones will be what drives connectivity. With Internet of Things (IoT) technology and the inevitable introduction of 5G, the pace of technology is rapidly developing and we must begin planning for this future. 

Technology has the potential to enable a standard of living in ways previously unthought-of. By using self-driving vehicles as a case study, we can begin to understand how businesses can work towards having a more ethical future with connected technology and the introduction of 5G.

The future of connected technology and infrastructure 

Businesses continually reevaluate their strategies and must work to adapt to new technologies as our world becomes more connected. When we reflect on the devices we use, what we currently have are basic, device-to-device connections. In the years to come, everything is going to be connected - with the implementation of 5G, our connections will be multiplied. Individual’s day-to-day lives are linked with apps which sync to their home devices, but across sectors such as manufacturing, and healthcare, organisations will also become more connected.

When the Internet was first designed, nobody was able to predict the vast quantities of data that would be created and the potential business uses this data could provide. We have been retro-fitting security and regulation ever since. Now we are in a position to better predict the future of technological development. Most IoT technologies are now being designed with data in mind, resulting in better design and implementation. Therefore, we can now build connected devices with the user in mind.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The case of self-driving vehicles

The connected technology which is discussed most often in regards to ethics is self-driving vehicles. This year business leaders and governments are all calling for a responsible approach to self-driving cars. It seems making sure connected technology is handled ethically is already on the top of the agenda in this sector, yet much can be done to make the standards consistent globally. 

Since self-driving cars are undergoing strenuous testing with intense media scrutiny, the global community has made a commitment to creating a process of advanced trials which not only strengthens the guidelines on trial safety for all manufacturers to follow but also ensures transparency so that the public is aware of the standards being met. These kind of standards should go beyond self-driving vehicles and permeate the ethical guidelines of connected technology. 

Governments across the globe must work together to agree and set standards so that the technology industry can move in one agreed direction that also protects individual data privacy as much as it makes the technology safe. Technology is not a barrier and as with all digital technologies, self-driving cars will improve our lives in ways we were not previously able to comprehend. 

The potential benefits in terms of personal safety, environmental impact, and more efficient transportation systems are worth the considerable investment and we should look at the challenges not as hurdles, but as opportunities to drive some of the most innovative ideas the industry has ever seen.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Planning for a connected future with 5G

In recent years, connectivity has improved dramatically. According to the National Infrastructure Commission, “5G means seamless connectivity. Ultra-fast and ultra-reliable, transmitting massive amounts of data at super low latency. It will support the ever increasing requirements of the existing network and new applications as unknowable today as the 4G services we take for granted would have been a decade ago.” To put the UK at the forefront of this emerging technology will be critical for the growth of the economy. 

To build this 5G future with the user in mind, we also must consider how to protect users. The debate is no longer about an individual versus the great community; it is about equal protection for all in the connected world we live in. The cumulative use of technologies such as big data, 5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning can facilitate more reliable, evidence-based and precise findings or decisions, often more rapidly and efficiently.

Securing connected technologies

The market has driven many advances since the creation of connected technology. Now Governments must play a role in securing these technologies. From healthcare innovations to face recognition software, new technologies require us learn them, adapt them into businesses and demand measures are put in place to make sure they are developed and utilised ethically.

It is time for technology companies to rethink their strategies while adapting to the increasing levels of complex regulation globally. Technology firms must acclimate to regulatory expectations as they offer protection to society and social issues. Technology has opened, and will continue to open, the realm of possibilities for businesses. It affects the environment, people and the society as a whole. The way we choose to regulate technology will ultimately exemplify its positive force in our world.

Anshuman Singh, Associate Vice President of Digital Business at Mindtree Europe (opens in new tab)

Anshuman Singh

Anshuman Singh is Associate Vice President of Digital Business at Mindtree Europe. He also represents Digital Team in Europe.