The Tech Disruption: When will it strike and who are the pioneers and radicals driving the change?

1.28.21 / 3 min read

The second panel from our 2021 Signal AI Leadership Summit looked at the disruption of AI, the challenges we need to overcome and the potential avenues of progress.

Deftly moderated by economist, Director of Tortoise Media and Founder of The Global AI Index Alexandra Mousavizadeh, the panel brought together some of the greatest global leaders in technology. Our CEO and Founder David Benigson joined this panel alongside Megan Smith, Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer serving under President Obama, UN’s Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, Fabrizio Hochschild and Dex Hunter-Torricke, from Facebook’s Oversight Board.

The panel opened with a discussion on the promises versus reality of applied AI, and the idea that there is generally a perception challenge with every tech innovation to overestimate short term capabilities, and underestimate transformative properties. David shared his belief that we’re on the precipice of the age of true augmentation, where tech allows us to achieve truly transformative things, with human intelligence being augmented by artificial intelligence. This has been our experience at Signal AI where our platform and technology works as a partner with our clients.

The panel moved on to discuss the work of the Oversight Board, highly timely with the board’s first “Case Decisions” being announced imminently. Dex Hunter-Torricke from Facebook’s Oversight Board, who previously ran comms at Facebook and worked as a speechwriter for Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt and the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, spoke on the role of trust in overcoming the scaremongering around AI and the imperative need of having decision makers from diverse sectors and backgrounds, as they have on the Oversight Board.

The UN’s Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, Fabrizio Hochschild, discussed the need to embrace the open border nature of technology and how regulation must innovate at the same speed. He noted that technology has become a battlefield for political disagreement, and that “Tech innovation by nature ignores borders, with clients in one country and HQ in another. How do regulatory frameworks, legal frameworks, deal with a totally transnational approach?”

“If we are to embrace the internet’s ideal of no borders, we need a more determined effort to work on this common ground and a more inclusive process in terms of developing countries.” Fabrizio Hochschild

Megan Smith, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer serving under President Obama, spoke passionately about the need to accelerate inclusion, with the clear message that, “All humans need to learn coding, AI and digital empathy, in the same way we learn reading and writing” Megan made the point that “we can get a package the next day, but we can’t deliver school lunch to kids in need?” She went on to say that Covid has been a wake up call for how reliant we are on digital, and that “Digital” is rapidly becoming a new face of inequality. This is a moral and ethical issue, and is already a big driver of conflict, undermining social cohesion.

The panel concluded that tech doesn’t drive progress, it’s only the tool to drive progress, that we must de-silo, especially in non-tech sectors, and it is imperative to open op collaborations in a meaningfully accessible way for all, including the youth. It is true that every organization of scale is thinking “How can i connect everything I’ve been doing with AI?” Finally the panel concluded that AI is not the future. It is happening right now. It was a truly fantastic session raising some of the most crucial questions in technology today.

You can read highlights from our CEO, David Benigson, here.