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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

World Government Summit: Rapid development must not leave poorest behind

World Government Summit speakers warn of pitfalls of fast pace technological change in planning for the future

Karuna Gopal, president of the Foundation of Futuristic Cities, says smart living should be about giving quality of life for the poorest in society. Pawan Singh / The National
Karuna Gopal, president of the Foundation of Futuristic Cities, says smart living should be about giving quality of life for the poorest in society. Pawan Singh / The National

The speed of technological change is drawing attention away from the plight of the poorest in society, warned speakers at day two of the World Government Summit in Dubai.

A forum on the future of smart living and the potential threats posed to society in a new digital age discussed how to manage rapid technological progress.

“Smart living is not about living in a house where you are being entertained by the latest technology, or walking around wearing 3-D printed clothes but about giving quality of life to the poorest and introducing dignity into communities,” said Karuna Gopal, president of the Foundation of Futuristic Cities, an Indian think tank.

“When you are blown away by technology it is easy to forget the core of the issue.

“It can transform our lives, but there is a popular perception that technological developments will be the cause of our destruction.

“It is important to look at the third dimension of technology, and that is comparable to the confusion and mind fog we experience as a result of this advancement.

“Losing this mindfulness is a side effect of our technological development.

“It is exciting to see smart cities emerging, but it is more important to see nations coming together to support a common cause.”

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Although cyber threats are becoming more acknowledged by the region’s business world thanks to the early adoption of effective legislation, critical challenges remain.

Those include the accurate prediction and identification of the likely methods of attack as well as the identity and motivation of the perpetrators.

In 2016, Cybersecurity Ventures, a US research firm, predicted that cybercrime will cost business and governments $6 trillion annually by 2021 – with the average cost to an organisation of a data breach running to $3.6 million.

“We can see a lot of opportunities (in technology), but if you speak with people they say they are seeing technology moving very fast and people are concerned with that,” said Osman Sultan, chief executive of Du.

“There are concerns about the pace of change. We can regulate and moderate, but it is an enormous challenge with the rate of change that we are now experiencing.

“Technological capabilities are bigger and fundamentally changing much faster than we are prepared for in everything that we see and touch.”