UK Prime Minister on Smart City Risks

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Calls for ethical and responsible technology

Excerpts from his speech to the United Nations:

“You may keep your secrets from your friends, from your parents, your children, your doctor, even your personal trainer, but it takes real effort to conceal your thoughts from Google. And if that is true today, in future there may be no where to hide.”

“Smart cities will pullulate with sensors all joined together by the internet of things.”

“This technology could also be used to keep every citizen under round the clock surveillance.”

“Your mattress will monitor your nightmares, your fridge will beep for more cheese.” 

“A giant dark thundercloud [of data] waiting to burst.” 

“Data is the crude oil of the modern economy”

“Can these algorithms be trusted with our lives and hopes? Should the machines, and only the machines, decide whether or not we are eligible for a mortgage or insurance or what surgery or medicines we should receive. Are we doomed to a cold and heartless future in which computer says yes or computer says no with the grim finality of an emperor in the arena? How do you plead with an algorithm?”

“I believe governments have been simply caught unawares by the unintended consequences of the internet- a scientific breakthrough- far more reaching in its everyday psychological impact than any other invention since Gutenberg…like nuclear power- in that it’s capable of both good and harm.”

“HOW we design the emerging technologies behind these breakthroughs and what values inform their design will shape the future of humanity. That is my point to you “

“At stake is whether we bequeath an Orwellian world, designed for censorship, repression and control, or a world of emancipation, debate and learning, where technology threatens famine and disease, but not our freedoms.”

“The mission of the United Kingdom and all who share our values must be to ensure that emerging technologies are designed from the outset for freedom, openness and pluralism with the right safeguards in place to protect our people.”

Read a transcript of his speech here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-to-the-un-general-assembly-24-september-2019

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