Technology as an enabler for good – Connected Worlds

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I made four mental connections recently.

1. Firstly, I was moved by Michael Green’s TED-talk on the Social Progress Index. Michael discussed how we can use big data to make a better world by measuring our people’s well-being, incorporating measures of happiness, community, fairness or justice.

As Michael said,

We are living in a moment when we are ready for a measurement revolution.

2. In another TED talk from 2012 entitled “Connected, but alone?”, Sherry Turkle suggests we need to think  has to be used thoughtfully to ensure our desire to be omni-connected doesn’t result in making us more alone. Wvery deeply about the new kinds of connections we want to have in this exciting (and sobering) age. Technology must resist being too busy communicating to really talk.

3. The third was made for me this morning over breakfast. I’m reading an excellent book, “Connected Worlds”* – which I’d strongly recommend to anyone in the industry – and was struck by Barbara Killinger’s definition of integrity:

An uncompromising and predictably consistent commitment to honour moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles.

Empowered by technology

4. The fourth connection came from an unlikely source. We expect UN resolutions to be a somewhat dry but the innocuous 70/1 contains this powerful sentence:

The spread of information and communications technology and global inter-connectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies…

This caused me to reflect on an innovation engagement one of my colleagues, Nathan Eden, had with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Last year Nathan took a Double Robotics robot and set it up in a ward. The doctors there used it to do their bed rounds with the kids. Controlling from afar, out of sight, the children responded amazingly to this funny contraption zooming around. “My doctor is now a robot!” remarked one young girl. Nathan witnessed the palpable lift of energy in the ward, with the sound of children laughing along with this robot, whilst their doctor got on with his or her questioning. The device also facilitated communication from bed-bound children in the hospital to other children and staff in the hospital. It was a heart-warming example of the potential of technology for good.

Technology for good

What did this wondrous swirling soup of insights and wisdom spark in me? It sparks a hunger – a hunger for the right way for our communities, our organisations and our world to work together sustainably, and with integrity for the greater good of all.

What a time we live in. We have the right tools, and importantly, the possibility to effect positive change on a global scale. Social media is used to support justice, video sharing technologies enable education for everyone, and facilitate global collaboration for the common good.

As our chairman, Sir Michael Rake, said in Connected Worlds:

The more connections we make, the more possibilities we create – that’s how each of us can make a difference in the world.

Connected Worlds is a book published by Touchline Publishing and is a Connected Worlds production from BT Group plc.
Steve Coakley