Technology is everywhere becoming more and more engrained in everything we do. If you’re wondering how we can expect technology to shape our future, you might be surprised to learn just how far the impact reaches.Experts in information technology and computer science are constantly working to improve our lives using digital technologies. This application is aptly referred to as ‘digital innovation’.
Digital innovation contributes to significant changes in our society, shifting our definition of innovation itself to encompass technological advances, and their integration into modern business models.
So, it comes as no surprise that the top five most valued companies globally are centred around digital technology; including the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon.
So, how will digital innovation shape our future? We spoke to Shri Rai, Murdoch University Academic Chair of Computer Science, about what change we might see in the near future.
Engaging with democracy“With the advancing of digital innovation, we can expect democratic activities and policymaking decisions to become more transparent,” said Shri.
“The use of technology has already seen companies and governments become more accountable.
“We saw this during the recent 2020 Black Lives Matter movement. Big brand companies were held accountable for inactivity or insensitivity during the height of the movement by their online social following, resulting in many adjusting their behaviour accordingly.
In addition to facilitating public activism, digital innovation will hopefully see the percentage of the population with access to digital platforms increase.
“Computer Scientists are working on more effective tools to connect communities.”
“Einstein had indicated that the world would not be destroyed by evil people, but by those who choose to ignore the evil. Digital technology can provide the means by which public activism and discourse may result in better accountability by individuals, groups, institutions and governments.”
Fighting disinformation with Artificial IntelligenceMany of us will already be familiar with the uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our daily lives, such as when using Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant.
However, the innovation of AI will develop much beyond having your name finally pronounced correctly when asking your smartphone a question.
“The use of AI will be integral in the fight against disinformation and Deepfakes [a form of AI called deep learning, used to create fake events and false information] infiltrating the internet.
“The development of such advanced technologies is resulting in a global AI ‘arms race’ between those trying to prevent misinformation, and those spreading it.”
Embracing the information economy“Thanks to technology, the world is shifting into what is known as the information economy,” said Shri.
“Unlike the traditional economy based upon manual labour; as the name suggests, the information economy focuses on the exchange of information.
“Information is the product, as well as the digital currency. We know that the money we have is also viewed as numbers on a computer screen and is stored as bit and bytes in some banks database.”
“This has seen profits shift to be based upon the speed of innovation and the ability to retain the consumer by analysing consumer behaviour and needs.”
In order to stay current, companies of all sizes are having to focus on the importance of digital innovation to thrive.
Look at Netflix for example - their original business model was based on renting DVDs by mail. After delivering their billionth DVD in 2007, they began moving their core business model to online streaming.
Netflix innovated with the times, grew their consumer base, and now reap the benefits every time we binge on our favourite series.
“We may even expect that the future power and impact of a country’s economy to be dependent on the power of the country’s computational ability.”
Enabling flexibility and collaboration in the workplaceFrom the informal coffee chat, to Microsoft Teams; the nature of sharing networks has already shifted – but that’s not where it will stop.
“Organisations are no longer limited by the structure of a singular network for informal and formal information sharing. Digital innovation has brought about the use of many, each with their own specified purpose.
“We have also begun the shift to multi-actor involvement, telepresence and increasingly unplanned change – a direct result of widespread digital innovation.”
This will only grow more collaborative and efficient, placing more demand for employees with deep problem-solving skills.
Building trust with a digital societyWith an evident dependence on technology, the hum of distrust remains over concerns for our data, information and identities.
We would like our privacy to be maintained, news and information to be reliable and accurate with data and information provenance. Computer scientists are also working on techniques that enable safe and secure digital communities.
Digital innovation is disrupting industries in many remarkable ways and the pace of disruption is on the increase. The challenge is for technology companies and the systems governing them to build enough trust with communities, so the rate of progress does not significantly outrun the rate and willingness of adoption.