In the 30th anniversary issue of Radar the need to make good decisions about tech was a strong theme in our network interviews. Cities may be becoming smarter, but is technology and data serving the poorest communities within them? Will automation and AI further concentrate wealth?
The potential for technology to exacerbate the issues we are already grappling with, particularly poverty and inequality, is a real concern. The need to wield technology to better serve societal needs is a yet unrealised opportunity.
Technology companies are big, their reach is pervasive and so far, their approach to sustainability has been narrow. We have laid down four principles – accountable, human-centric, holistic, collaborative – that could help tech companies advance their positive impact on society and the economy. Gaining a better understanding of the environmental and social challenges in supply chains, particularly labour conditions, human rights and waste, should concentrate minds on putting humans – not technology – first.
Enabling technologies to address critical human needs can be further accelerated by bringing together those working on global challenges and those in tech. How digitization, automation, algorithms, artificial intelligence, sensors, satellites and blockchain can help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals is the focus of the 2030Vision collaboration. SustainAbility is a founding partner and we are pleased to be able to showcase this work in Radar.
The gap between sustainability and technology for too long has been wide, but with stakeholder concerns rising and a number of initiatives in place that are seeking to narrow the divide, we are optimistic that technology will begin to help create a better future for the many, not just the few.