António Guterres: “Science can do both good and harm, creating monsters”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres defended that the world needs a new strategic vision to answer the impact of the technological revolution. Guterres made his remarks at the opening of the 2017 Web Summit 9th edition, the technology summit occurred between November 6th and 9th.

The UN Secretary-General also warned of two great threats: global warming and increasing inequality among people, leading to greater populations’ impoverishment and migration increase.

These threats the world is facing add a new technological challenge. António Guterres emphasized that “we have to look to the near future with a strategic vision that combines actions of governments, civil society, private sector and universities so that technological innovation is a force for good”.

The Secretary-General explained that “the fourth industrial revolution will have a dramatic impact on societies and our way of living in markets, so it’s important to foresee the impact of technological evolution”. Guterres gave the example of the self driving technology that might impact professional drivers in the United States, saying that “drivers are the largest workforce in the United States, but with automation and robotization we have to learn to anticipate the future to avoid a massive unemployment rate”.

The solution is not to stop technology development, but use it to solve the problems. António Guterres defends “We have to avoid the stupid reaction of trying to stop innovation, this is stupid because it is impossible and because it prevents us from having positive benefits, but we must also avoid the naivety of thinking that traditional forms of regulation for sectors such as energy or financial system can solve the problem”.

The UN Secretary-General pointed out some of the main problems he believes are threatening the planet, such as climate change, economic growth, poverty or migration resulting from inequality adding that “globalization is a force for doing good, and new technologies as well, but they can cause “collateral damage”. “

“Fair globalization must be the response to collateral damage, and the good news is that science is on our side,” said the diplomat, adding that “the green economy is the economy of the future, so you can make money and do good”.

António Guterres also highlighted that “It is a good thing that participants are here discussing the impact of the fourth revolution in the future, because science and technology are not neutral. We can eradicate diseases with genetic engineering, but we can also create monsters. We should use cyberspace to improve people’s lives or to facilitate terrorism”.



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