CIMR Research in Focus 3: The Economic and Ethical Implications of Digital Technologies

The continuous flow of emerging technologies presents a constant challenge and opportunity for organisations. It is because of this trend that we introduced our Blockchain module and we have noticed a positive response from our students, who have enjoyed exploring how cutting-edge technologies impact organisations and their innovation policy.

Innovations in digital technology have seemingly infinite capacity to improve our society. We have already begun to see the impact of artificial intelligence with disruptive new businesses such as Uber, Monzo and Deliveroo. In our discussion on entrepreneurship in quantum technology, the possible benefits of quantum ranged from faster drug development to preventing environmental disasters.

New technologies also offer opportunities to work towards equality. Dr Andrew Atter and Usman Salim, for example, highlighted how gaming can support adult learning among typically hard to reach Gen Z women. This idea and its implications for gender equality were explored further with PhD student Dina Mansour in our Debates in Public Policy series.

In practice, the rate at which new technologies are entering the market is creating an ethical minefield for governing bodies, who are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. Dr Fred Guy’s research highlights the risk of technology monopoly clusters, which increase inequality in the surrounding areas. We discussed the archetypal tech monopoly, Silicon Valley, in a CIMR Debate with Dr Guy, Professor Maryann P. Feldmann and Dr Thomas Kemeny.

Additional explanations for the link between innovation and rising inequality were explored by Thanos Fragkandreas, who highlights the skills premium and precarious unemployment as areas for concern. Further research and investment from policymakers will be needed to ensure new technologies serve our goals for a fairer and more equal society.