The Digital Future Society Summit, within the framework of MWC Barcelona 2023, brought together national and international experts to talk about the steps to be taken to achieve a fair digital transition that prioritizes respect for human rights, ethics and security, as well as the protection of privacy.
Francesc Fajula, CEO of Mobile World Capital Barcelona, opened the session by talking about the relationship between society and technology and how the latter is changing the way we communicate, socialize and consume. Likewise, he defended that the society we are moving towards must respect the values of a digital transformation that leaves no one behind. The institutional opening was conducted by the senior vice president and Minister of Economy and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calvino, who highlighted, through a recorded message, the need to place people at the center of digital transformation.
Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence, led the lecture highlighting the role of Spain as one of the driving countries of the digital revolution. Additionally, he noted that Spain launched Spain Neurotech, one of Europe’s top five neurotechnology centers and the first to focus on technological humanity. She then appealed to include and take into account the new generations in the process, noting that some of them do not claim their digital rights because they are generally unaware that they have them. For all these reasons, it has valued initiatives aimed at raising society’s digital awareness, such as the recently launched Geração D project (focused on digital skills) or the Digital Future Society itself.
Neurotech, the next frontier
The first session, centered on neurotechnologies and their role in the new digital reality, was moderated by Elsa Poncet, Content Director of the Social and Emotional Learning Laboratory (LASE), and had the participation of Raphael Yost, neuroscientist and professor of biology science at Columbia University and a perspective on the BRAIN project; Alvaro Pascual Leon, MD, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School; Anna Mikes, CEO, Neuroelectrics; Jose M. Carmina, researcher, professor of electrical engineering and director of neuroscience at the University of Berkeley.
The roundtable started with the basics: What is neurotechnology? The speakers agreed in pointing out that they are technologies that can change or improve our brain activity. The role of neurotechnology in improving brain function during aging is a reality in a future perspective, being applied for example in the treatment of mental illnesses or other diseases such as cancer.
There was also talk of how some studies have already created AI images in the brains of mice to see how they react to these stimuli. With this methodology, it is intended to know how to advance in the treatment of patients with schizophrenia. The importance of giving new impetus to technology as a tool to more effectively monitor neurological diseases and design treatments to stop or eliminate them was also emphasized.
All speakers agreed on the need for a real change in the monitoring of this type of disease and the integration of medical monitoring into people’s lives through technology. In addition, they point out that the regulator has not yet considered issues such as identity, autonomy and equality, which are fundamental questions to be considered and which must be answered.
Ethical approaches to immersive reality
The second discussion revolved around ethical approaches to immersive reality, with a focus on respect for human rights, ethics and security as pillars for building a sustainable global digital domain.
Session was moderated by Esther Paniagua, Associate Director of the Center for Governance of Change, Ricardo Baeza Yates, Member of the Spanish Artificial Intelligence Advisory Board, and Ponnacha Machia, CEO of the Chopra Foundation. Carissa Velez, Associate Professor at the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, School of Philosophy, Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence at Hertford College, and Monica Taher, Vice President of Marketing at RocketFuel.
Speakers highlighted the ethical approaches needed for an immersive and safe reality for all, including social relationships in the digital space and the impact of new digital media such as the metaverse. They discuss the role that immersive reality can play in combating the biggest pandemic that exists today, which is loneliness, but at the same time point out the challenges that these same technologies present to privacy.
Topics such as the emergence of cryptocurrencies or the need for governments to accept and integrate blockchain into the financial reality of society were also discussed, something that can be of great benefit to many people, especially women, who live today. in developing countries.
Sustainable technology for good
The third and final panel, The Confluence of Twin Transformations. The panel was moderated by journalist Pippo Serrano and Jordi Serrano, specialist in digital and global health; Guillermo M. Gaunas-Vivas, CEO, Ayúdame3D; Chris Fabian, co-founder of Giga (UNICEF) and Lara Urban, principal investigator of the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus and Helmholtz AI. They all presented some of the initiatives they are implementing in this field, such as the design of artificial intelligence that makes it possible to relate the health of the planet with its impact on human health; UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union’s GIGA project to provide connectivity to all schools in the world by 2030; Or an association of entrepreneurs that promotes and promotes projects that seek to improve the environment.