CONTROL

There will only be five serious discussions about the future of technology this year.
Four of them were at The Canadian Cloud Council’s Control.

< THE SUTTON PLACE, EDMONTON, ALBERTA // MAY 14 & 15 2018. >

Today, technology is on an exponential curve and is touching practically everyone—everywhere. Changes of a magnitude that once took centuries now happen in decades, sometimes in years. Not long ago, Facebook was a dorm-room dating site, mobile phones were for the ultra-rich, drones were multimillion-dollar war machines, and supercomputers were for secret government research. Today, hobbyists can build drones and poor villagers in India access Facebook accounts on smartphones that have more computing power than the Cray 2—a supercomputer that in 1985 cost $17.5 million and weighed 2,500 kilograms. A full human genome sequence, which cost $100 million in 2002, today can be done for $1,000—and might cost less than a cup of coffee by 2020.

We haven’t come to grips with what is ethical, let alone with what the laws should be. Consider the question of privacy. There is a public outcry today—as there should be—about NSA surveillance, but the breadth of that surveillance pales in comparison to the data that Google, Apple, Facebook, and legions of app developers are collecting. Our smartphones track our movements and habits. Our Web searches reveal our thoughts. With the wearable devices and medical sensors that are being connected to our smartphones, information about our physiology and health is also coming into the public domain. Where do we draw the line on what is legal—and ethical—and ultimately more important to the future of the human race than increasing shareholder value?