Issue 18: Happy Technology

 
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Welcome to Backstory, a weekly newsletter turning global technology shifts into a three-minute read. We’re thinking this week about the bright side of technology. – Mary Ames, Director of Strategy


THE BIG TAKE

Happy Technology

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Does technology make you feel heavy? The constant media cycle outlining fears of technological overreach can give the entire sector a negative connotation. We wrestle with these fears and explore their associated challenges but that doesn’t stop us from having a bullish view on the benefits of tech innovation. When used correctly, technology is one of the greatest forces for good in human history.

AI for good: No conversation about the potential and power of technology would be complete without some notes on artificial intelligence (AI). Consider how AI is revolutionizing global farming or helping startups create new foods to feed growing populations. In healthcare, AI is helping doctors get better diagnostics and literally saving lives. The sheer number of life-changing AI innovations in medicine is too big to list.

An amazing time to be alive: We might look at our smartphones too much these days but the remarkable pocket computers have transformed how humanity communicates and connects. Now that we take these incredible devices for granted, we should consider how other developments are poised to create new transformations. It's okay to be happy about technology.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I imagine a world in which AI is going to make us work more productively, live longer, and have cleaner energy."

Fei-Fei Li, scientist


OUR VIEWS THIS WEEK

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Reframing growth: Discussion of the global economy these days is focused on trade war concerns and other pressures on growth. But what if economists are getting it all wrong? This week, we take a deep dive into our understanding of growth and pose a simple question: should wellness be the new GDP?

Robotic colleagues: In our brave new world where robotics is transforming the nature of employment, can robots and humans get along? Many commentators are critical and cautious of advancements in robotics. We explore how robots are a growth opportunity for the global workforce.

Smart Cities Index: Our first Smart Cities Index is out. We set out to determine the global cities best at adopting technology and highlighting the human experience. We also consider where collaboration thrives and which cities remain true to their roots. Do you think we got it right? Be sure to have a look.


SPOTTED ELSEWHERE

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Urban Africa: When most people think about African aid, images of impoverished rural communities come to mind. The reality is the opposite: African cities are exploding. In a piece for Bloomberg Opinion, two close observers of aid programmes in Africa argue that the continent’s urban dimension is a great opportunity for international business. With so many connected urbanites, markets from Cairo to Johannesburg hold untapped potential.

Walking is a superpower: Who isn’t looking for a quick fix when it comes to exercise? Perhaps the secret is as simple as taking a walk. According to neuroscientist and author Shane O’Mara, regular walking unlocks the cognitive powers of the brain like few other activities. In his new book, In Praise of Walking, O’Mara explains why you should grab a pair of comfy shoes and get strolling. The key to healthy living is waiting just outside the door.


 

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