Opportunities, Risks Of Rapid Technological Change Discussed At UN 08/06/2018 by David Branigan, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The Third annual United Nations Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals opened with Marie Chatardová, president of the Economic and Social Council, stating that “STI is shaping the trajectory of our society, helping the world address global challenges and achieve Sustainable Development Goals.” UN Secretary General Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti followed, stating that part of this trajectory “will be based on the enormous untapped potential of new and rapidly developing technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, material sciences and robotics. These rapidly changing new technologies have immense promise.” While the general tone of the discussion on rapid technological change emphasised opportunity over risk at this year’s STI Forum held on June 5-6, the underlying theme of inequality, and the widening technology gap, could not be missed. As Gӧran Marby, president and CEO of ICANN, stated twice, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The potential societal gains of rapidly developing technologies such as AI are expected to be many. However, the actual impact of AI on jobs, for instance, is uncertain. In his keynote address, Andrew Keen, author of The Internet is Not the Answer, and How to Fix the Future, referenced a 2013 Oxford University study predicting that over 50% of jobs may be lost over the next twenty years because of AI. While new jobs will likely be created, the rate of technological change could leave many without work, which could deepen the technological divide. To mitigate risks and to attempt to distribute the benefits of rapid technological change, the UN has formed the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, of which the STI Forum is a part. The aim of the TFM is to facilitate multi-stakeholder collaboration and partnership to direct STI advancements toward SDG achievement. Initially proposed at Rio+20 in 2012, the TFM pursues the mandate to map existing technology facilitation initiatives, identify areas of synergy and potential cooperation, develop an online information-sharing platform on STI, and cooperate with relevant stakeholders on STI capacity building. Speaking on behalf of the TFM Interagency Task Team on STI for the SDGs, Elliott Harris, chief economist and assistant secretary-general for economic development, stated that “unless we act proactively, existing inequalities could be exacerbated or further entrenched.” In furtherance of SDG 17.8, the Technology Bank, established by the UN and inaugurated in Turkey on 4 June, is one initiative that explicitly aims to narrow this technology gap, by facilitating access to the benefits of STI for LDCs. Previous IP-Watch coverage of the Technology Bank can be found here. Described by Feridun Hadi Sinirlioǧlu, permanent representative of Turkey to the UN, “the Bank will strengthen the capacity of the LDCs to develop, integrate and scale-up deployment of technologies and innovations. It will also enhance their capacity to address and manage intellectual property rights issues.” Thomas Philbeck, head of science and technology studies at the World Economic Forum, suggested that instead of focusing only on policy recommendations, we need to change thinking about rapid STI advancements. He argued that thinking about these advancements in a positive way will be essential toward realizing the great social promise of these new technologies. Relatedly, ICANN’S Marby raised the concern that policy efforts to over-regulate emerging technology could constrain the potential social benefits of these technologies, as has been seen with over-regulation of the internet. Throughout the discussions on rapid technological change at the 2018 STI Forum, one view was made perfectly clear: multi-stakeholder cooperation is needed to break silos and develop sustainable multi-stakeholder solutions to mitigate technological risks and maximize benefits toward SDG achievement. David Branigan graduated in May 2018 from the Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School. His research is focused at the intersection of technology, public policy and human rights. Image Credits: United Nations Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related David Branigan may be reached at email@example.com."Opportunities, Risks Of Rapid Technological Change Discussed At UN" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.