Reshaping The World Through Data

By Professor Sally Eaves, Professor of FinTech and CEO of Aspirational Futures

I wholeheartedly believe in changing the narrative on technology and data, and, demonstrating through action, just how it can be applied to create shared value for both business and society, and at scale, too.

That’s why most of my discussion with Joe DosSantos for the Data Brilliant podcast focused on the interlinked pillars of education and technology – how these can and must come together to drive ethical and inclusive development of future technologies.

For me, the focus should not be on STEM learning but on STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – where the arts take an equal stage. We can and must avoid the growing potential of a ‘lost generation’ to the arts, and focus instead on building talent with a depth and breadth of skills, a ‘toolset for continual learning’ that includes creativity, emotional intelligence, problem-solving and curiosity. These are skills that are often developed and reinforced through the arts which help build creative confidence, expression and vision, too!

And, beyond this, we discuss why an ethos of holistic learning for life has probably never mattered more. If we can better understand ourselves and how we learn as individuals, we can become more effective at it. And, to do this, we draw on real-world examples from my global non-profit work with ‘Aspirational Futures’ and beyond. The vision here is centered on the democratization of opportunity enabled by access to education. This brings us onto our second pillar: technology.

Technology is a duality that can be harnessed for good or otherwise, but, as we discuss, it tends to be the occurrences ‘where tech goes bad’ that captures most headlines! And, that is often not representative – for example, with issues of AI, it is often baked in bias, including human biases that causes issues, rather than AI in itself. Equally, when things do go wrong, as we have all seen do, indeed, happen, especially in times of unprecedented global pressures, whoever is involved must ‘own it,’ be transparent and work to put it right. This honesty and transparency when things go wrong is vital to building trust in technology, especially emerging technology.

But, of course, we can all work together to reduce initial risks, too. Joe and I discuss some endeavors that are helping to do just that. This includes new value frameworks and roles, such as the rise of the Chief Trust Officer and ensuring a diversity of experience in the teams that are building the tech. We have to go beyond the regulation of technology, to self-governance with people, culture, values and shared responsibility all absolutely key. We cannot hide behind jargon and ambiguity either, as transparency and explainability, especially around AI, are vital for understanding, acceptance and adoption.

And, finally, technology, both cutting edge and repurposed older technologies, are being used across the world to greatly benefit humanity. We explore many examples of this, from enabling financial inclusion, to protecting fragile and vulnerable supply chains, such as in the pharmaceutical industry, through the ‘marriage’ of blockchain and AI. Across the pandemic experience, we have seen how technology and human partnership have been the connectivity catalysts for work, learning, telehealth, entertainment and our everyday lives. But, we have also seen that access to technology is not equal, and, in the podcast, we keep coming back to how to change that, sharing tangible examples that are making a difference already, and how we can go further faster together by keeping this momentum of more open and cross-sector collaboration.

We must avoid ‘internet poverty,’ as digital literacy is an imperative for everyone as we accelerate ever quicker into Industry 4.0. Together, we can and must do more. And, empowered by STEAM learning foundations and the confidence to keep investing in learning for life, I believe that future talent will be well equipped to not just imagine – but reimagine our future – and then bring this to life through technology skills, too.

The time is now to reflect on what do we choose to work on, how we work on it and the holistic skills we need to make it happen – and what we can do to support one another to come together for good.

In the latest episode of #DataBrilliant @JoeDosSantos speaks to @sallyeaves about how data and trust must go hand in hand if we want to use #techforgood


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