Five trends, and how they are dealt with by companies and governments, will determine the future success or failures of technology-related endeavors, said Klaus Tilmes, Senior Advisor to the President of The World Bank, during his keynote address at The Digital Workforce Summit 2018. The World Bank is an international development organization that operates in roughly 120 countries and lends between $50 billion to $100 billion annually.
Tilmes said the trends, which focus on more than 200 technologies including AI such as IPsoft’s Amelia, revolve around three thematic concerns: ethics, inequality, and global consensus. “We need ethical standards before the impacts are irreversible,” he said. “Let us not have technology drive even further inequality across and within countries…A lot of the issues need really global interaction and global consensus building.”
The primary trend that warrants focus from businesses and municipalities is the question of equitable access to the technology, according to Tilmes. “Right now, it’s very transaction-based, but clearly we can see this for connection, for learning and for producing. The question here of course is, is this about monopoly?” Tilmes said it’s crucial that companies and particularly municipalities ensure equitable access to solutions such as AI.
The second trend referenced by Tilmes focused on how different technologies are brought together to ensure access to basic human needs, such as housing, food, and education. “The question of how do we bring these different converging technologies together is a question that we’re very interested in because we really see that as providing, finally, answers to the question of access,” Tilmes said.
The interaction between humans and machines is the third trend that requires careful consideration. Companies are focused on improving business processes and lowering costs, but what happens to the jobs that are displaced by these technologies? Tilmes said it’s up to companies and municipalities to ensure that these people are looked after if and when jobs are shifted to machines.
The fourth trend deals with the future of work. “How do we continuously upgrade our skills in order to remain competitive?” Tilmes asked. If machines are going to take low-level, repetitive tasks from humans, companies and municipalities must figure out a way to train the global workforce to become adaptable in order to remain employable when new technologies are implemented.
If machines are going to take low-level, repetitive tasks from humans, companies and municipalities must figure out a way to train the global workforce to become adaptable in order to remain employable when new technologies are implemented.
The fifth and final trend Tilmes discussed with the DWS audience was the interplay between those who govern the ethics and laws behind new technologies and the citizenry. “The question is, what does government actually have to do in terms of redefining the social contract with their citizens to build up trust, to make sure the advisors don’t become the prevailing wisdom and to make sure that the positive power of technologies is being harnessed?” asked Tilmes.
“We are very concerned about the enabling environment and there’s obviously a very strong tension between on the one hand regulation that was built in the 20th century and the trust and the motivation of innovators of the 21st century. So the structure of government, the speed with which government understands and responds, and the way it sets new frameworks and new sandboxes, I think, is clearly a challenge that many governments are starting to grapple with,” he said.
In order to help facilitate positive results for each of these trends, Tilmes said The World Bank is focused on three global tasks: building, boosting, and brokering. “To formulate a value proposition for The World Bank, we have asked ourselves what could we be doing. This is very aspirational. We want to really see ourselves as an organization that has a global reach and global convening authority and trust to engage with governments and people,” he said. “To coordinate development partners and to mobilize the private sector to do [those] three things.”
The World Bank is urging its partners to build the foundation for technology to enable economy. The organization wants its partners to boost the capacity of people as well as of institutions to thrive as one resilient society. Finally, The World Bank itself wants to broker with technology partners around data, technology and expertise to find solutions to global scale problems, said Tilmes.
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