From Facebook to Sports, Here’s What’s New in Tech

Stern Speakers’ roster includes many of the world’s greatest minds in technology. Their research continuously reveals how a sound technology strategy can drive business growth. Here are highlights of our tech speakers’ media coverage over the past month, and the insights they provide to the wider world.

Amy Webb on The Dangers of AI

Artificial intelligence is increasingly governing the way we work and live. But the machines and algorithms that do these jobs become smarter by using our own personal data – over which their developers now have effective ownership. Should we not question the motives and practices of the organizations that have mastery over our information – and our futures? That is the central thesis of futurist Amy Webb’s new book, “The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity” (PublicAffairs, March 2019). You can read a thought-provoking excerpt from the book on the dangers posed by building AI without human values in Business Insider. In an interview with MIT Technology Review, Webb elaborates on how AI can potentially undermine democracy. And in a story for WIRED, Webb criticizes the U.S. military’s lack of foresight when it comes to the AI arms race with China. “The Big Nine” will be a big news story this year – and so will its far-sighted, provocative author.

Jonathan Zittrain Engages Mark Zuckerberg on Tech Governance

How can we hold Big Tech accountable? Jonathan Zittrain, leading expert on tech governance, AI and cybersecurity, has long maintained that firms whose business models involve using our data should be held to a fiduciary standard, obliged to hold our information in trust and not use it without our consent. Last month, he sat down for a frank conversation with the public face of the most controversial tech company of all: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Watch Zittrain discuss his fiduciary proposal for Big Tech with the social media mogul, in addition to encryption, cybersecurity and targeted ads, or read this summary from Harvard Law Today.

Ayanna Howard’s Pediatric Robots Deliver Low-cost Care

Technology has its positive side – and renowned roboticist Ayanna Howard shows it in an interview with MobiHealth News. For children living with cerebral palsy or autism, it can be difficult to relate to other people. As seen in her latest TED Talk, Howard designs robots that can play with children, educate them and gain their trust, while helping with vital therapy. Howard, however, emphasizes that robots must be a complement to human care rather than a replacement, and that children should not become dependent on their AI friends. Health care organizations in particular should pay close attention to these developments, as robots can help support key medical services, improve the quality of care and cut costs.

Hugh Herr Imagines an Era of “Super-Athletes”

MIT scientist Hugh Herr originally began exploring bionics because he had lost his legs in a climbing accident, and wanted only to be able to walk again. Three decades later, his vision of bionic technology is different: now able to use his artificial limbs to not only walk but run, climb and do everything else he could do before, Herr says humanity can use the bionics to make itself perform better. In an interview on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Herr discusses the implications for athletics. One day, sports will be played by bionic super-humans, infinitely enhancing entertainment and the excitement of games. What other industries can improve the customer experience or increase productivity using bionics? Ask Hugh Herr to find out!

“What Can Business Learn from Neuroscience,” Asks Nathan Furr

As medical technology advances, there is less need than before to use large MRI machines when looking into the human body or brain. The advent of wearables now allows for detailed study of neuroscience outside of labs and hospitals, and in a recent Harvard Business Review article, innovation and leadership expert Nathan Furr reveals how IKEA used such technology to monitor customer satisfaction and responsiveness to new products and services in never-before-imagined ways. What else can neuroscience teach about your own business – and what devices can you use to learn? Read the HBR article – as well as Furr’s latest book “Leading Transformation: How to Take Charge of Your Company’s Future” (Harvard Business Review Press, November 2018) for the answers.

Brian Sherry: