Expo 2020 Dubai poses the question: is new tech a friend or foe?

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution firmly upon us, and technology deeper and more pervasive than ever, how can we better understand its role in connecting us and its power to change how we live, work and interact with our surroundings?

These complex questions were addressed by leading tech experts during Expo 2020 Dubai’s latest virtual World Majlis, titled ‘In tech we trust? Understanding and trusting new technology’.

Speaking on technology and a “feeling of control”, panellist Arun Sundararajan, Professor of Technology, Operations and Statistics, Stern Business School at New York University (NYU), said: “If you measure the right things, the impact of technological progress on the world – historically and in the latest iteration of digital and bio-technologies – has been overwhelmingly positive.

“But with the rapid pace of change that we are now encountering, there is a tendency to focus on what goes wrong. [For example] when we talk about cybersecurity, we always talk about a breach, when 99.9 per cent of the time everything happens the way it’s supposed to.”

Sundararajan noted this perceived sense of losing control was also, in part, because of the “unpredictability” associated with the pace of technological adoption.

The World Majlis discussion wrapped up ‘Expo Talks: Travel and Connectivity’, a series of virtual panel discussions on 16 February that brought together experts, alongside Expo ’s International Participants and official partners, providing a glimpse of how the six-month event will bring to life the theme of travel and connectivity.

“Technology has streamed directly into society and society has a near real-time say in where we are, how we feel, what we do and where we should be going,” said fellow World Majlis panellist Marc O’Regan, Chief Technology Officer, Dell Technologies EMEA.

“It’s very hard, not just for the consumers of that information, but [also] for the curators and the guardians of that information. How that’s shared and imported into society is under question,” he added, noting that, despite this, technology for good far outweighs the negatives – citing medical advances in the detection of cancer through to the Mars rovers.