The world is more connected than ever, and the global economy is changing in a fundamental way. The former business model based on the production, transportation and sale of tangible goods has been dominated by a new model based on the ownership of intangibles like intellectual property and data and capturing the returns on those intangible assets. From forestry to health, from oil and gas to sustainable cities, the data-driven economy is already touching every aspect of our lives, in both personal and business spheres.
Knowledge is Power
As Sir Francis Bacon once said, “knowledge is power.” Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data can offer endless possibilities to enhance the economy and society, especially when combined with unprecedented access to information, processing power, and storage capabilities. AI and similar emerging technologies shape how we interact with each other; how we do our jobs, and how we make decisions that impact people’s lives. But, just as information technology can shape society, society has the power – and a responsibility – to shape technology. We have the power to design and use technology that makes our world safer, more equitable, and more sustainable for generations to come, because, despite what current innovations might lead you to believe, the Internet of Things is still in its formative stage; its’ full realization with the rollout of 5G networks is yet to come.
Protecting Privacy and Prosperity Requires Actionable Standards
With the proliferation of data, comes questions around personal privacy, the risks of data leakage, and the need for data governance. What happens with all this data that is created? Where should it be stored? Who should have access to it? And, who should take ownership when privacy breaches occur? At the same time, this abundance of data presents a massive opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs harnessing data to develop leading innovations and become champions in the global marketplace.
The real question is, how do we protect both the privacy of Canadians and the prosperity of Canadian businesses in the global data driven economy?
The answer? Develop actionable standards. And not just any standards, standards that are championed by Canadians and deployed globally.
At present, big tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter have free rein to capture both private and public data and monetize it as they see fit. Canada has an opportunity to show leadership in data governance. The time is now to bring citizens, industry, and government together to solve real issues affecting the privacy and interests of all parties and ensure that the digital society that we want, with the right rules and privileges, is reflected in global standards.
How we choose to govern data ultimately boils down to how we choose to govern ourselves and what type of society, we, as Canadians want to build and live in. Those of us who work in standards, know very well that standards are not neutral. They reflect the priorities and goals of those who set them – both creators of technologies and bureaucrats who encode them into policy. In collaboration with other standard-setting organizations, the CIO Strategy Council is making sure that the interests of Canadians are influencing this conversation. With the right standards we can make Canada more prosperous, more equitable, more inclusive and safer for generations to come.
Let’s not fear the emerging technologies and the future it brings – let’s shape it.