What is Trust? Trust is a belief of someone or something being reliable, it means we have confidence and feel safe around them or it.
A few days ago, the first "Trust In Tech" Symposium organized by Huawei took place in London. Global Thought Leaders and guests gathered together to share insights into this topic. Hosting the day was author, radio and podcast host and marketing futurist Marsha Collier.
The opening speech was given by Huawei's CTO Paul Scanlan. I remember meeting Paul for the first time back in Barcelona during MWC. It was back then, that my curiosity for this Chinese Tech Brand peaked. So I was looking forward to hearing from him again.
Following Scanlan, was fellow Global Thought Leader Kevin Curran, Professor of CyberSecurity at Ulster University in Northern Ireland. Kevin shared insights into the state of cybersecurity and some of the 2020 trends that are coming. After that, he got into a one on one with Huawei UK's CSO Jeremy Thompson.
What can Huawei do to alleviate concerns on security? asked Kevin
Thompson said: "This is a team game, working with others, identifying where the threats are, doing improved threat modeling, we are part of a wider ecosystem despite what you might read in the press, we just make the boxes that go into the networks, we don't run the networks. But we have a very important role to play in making sure the threats associated with the boxes that we put into the networks, I think one of the key trends is an increase in cooperation between interested parties. And that is leading to much more standards-based and clear understanding in terms of what good looks like.
Andrew Williamson, ahead of joining the panel delivered a powerful keynote focusing on the GCI (Global Connectivity Index). The highlight for me was the importance of trusting and adopting new technology in fostering national economic growth and the overall digital leadership.
Before Williamson joined our panel, I decided to do a little experience with the audience. I asked everyone to stand up and close their eyes for a few seconds.
You see, when we close your eyes, we can feel vulnerable uneasy; that is why sometimes people have a hard time trusting technology or AI, it's like closing our eyes; hard to understand what we don't see.
Like magicians often say, "the closer you look, the less you see". We need to start by trusting people and the only way that we will get to have a better future in this area is by education so that we can have a better understanding of how these emerging technologies can help shape our future.
In our panel, formed by myself, Andrew Williamson (Vice President, Huawei Market Insights), Prof. Dr. Emre Alkin (Professor and World-Renown Economist), Mike Flache (Entrepreneur and Angel Investor) and Dr. JOnathan Liebenau (Associate Professor of Technology Management) we discussed the role of both trust and AI in digital growth, business and the global economy, as well as what people and businesses can think about as they will need to trust and rely on AI to bring organizations to the digital age.
The key question I asked was, why should we trust Artificial Intelligence?:
Liebenau said: "We want to ensure that people retain their critical view of technologies, in order to create an atmosphere wherein general improvements, criticisms, probing of laws can reveal to us where improvements might be made"
Alkin said: The challenge is the populism. There is no room for fear. Actually it is an ambition, it is an enthusiastic thing to have, digital inclusion in the companies. And that will affect positively the economy.
Williamson said: To build trust in tech we have to work much harder to talk, they should be much more about what is already proven to be great social benefits through healthcare, education.
Flache said: The most important thing is to become trustworthy ourselves, be openminded in regards to technology. Be aware and manage the risks, rewards and responsibility. everyone needs to answer a question for themselves. Do I want to shape the digital future? or will I just watch?
After lunch, Paul Scanlan took the stage to deliver 5 reasons to trust 5G
Reason 1: 5g does not create harmful Electromagnetic Fields
Reason 2: 5G will be more secure than 4G- or any previous network technology
Reason 3: 5G will sput economic growth by helping industries
Reason 4: 5G produces less carbon than 4G
Reason 5: 5G will increase overall levels of trust in digital systems
It was insightful to see Scanlan, who is a straight shooter, demistify some of the myths about 5G. For example, did you know that the World Health Organization has published its own report highlighting that radio waves from base stations & wireless networks are “so low that they are insignificant and do not affect human health.”? and also that FM radio and TV sets actually emit more radiation than cellular base stations?. They’ve been in people’s homes for half a century with no adverse health effects.
The overall message? To have trust in 5G, we need to educate, collaborate, incentivise and think differently.
Scanlan then joined the panel called "Trust Without Borders" chaired by Marsha Collier which also had
He was then joined the panel "Trust Without Borders" hosted by Marsha Collier and with Matthew Kendall (Chief Telecoms Analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit and Glen Gilmore (TIME "Man of Action", Mayor Emeritus(USA) and Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University.
The key question here was "What do relationships in the US and Europe mean for Huawei?"
Scanlan said: "First of all, if I go back to some comments made by Mr. Ren, we need to respect American companies, we need to learn from American Companies, he has a lot of admiration for companies like Apple and Amazon. Second, we spent in excess of 11 billion in the supply chain. His philosophy, I buy from you, you buy from me. Research, we don't invest in Universities to steal ideas, that's not what we do. It is a collaboration, we are looking for the best minds, we are looking for the best people.
Kendall said: "It's one thing to develop all these technologies, and then the other matter is how do we actually make sure that consumers accept them, that society accepts them with minimum disruption, that requires an industry ride coordinated effort"
Gilmore replied: "Huawei is actually setting a path for the future where we can begin to trust technology by saying, "let's trust and verify", let's have an agreement on Universal standards that don't just apply to Huawei but apply to all companies across the board.
The Symposium ended with a keynote by Phil Baty (Chief Knowledge Officer, Times Higher Education) and the Tech4All panel led by Spenser Blank (Ogilvy) with Andrew Garrihy (Global Chief Brand Officer, Huawei Consumer Business Group), Justin Smith (Research and Communications Manager, British Deaf Association) and Beatriz Becerra (Former MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights)
Takeaways from the last panel:
Garrihy: "We believe that technology in cooperation with people will help us to extend what is currently humanly possible. But to do that, it requires technology to be open and available to everybody, regardless of where you come from because we genuinely believe that when we do that, we can actually make a difference and tackle some of the biggest problems we currently face today"
Becerra: "I think we have a very good experience on how we reach a consensus on data protection if we don't talk the same language, it will be hard for us to be at the same stage"
Smith: "Disabled organizations and disabled people are involved right from the start through negotiations and consultations to make sure you find a real solution to the real problems, so when we talk about digital inclusion, it's about involving people from the start, all the way through the process to make sure that the outcome is right and proper and does, in fact, solve the problem.
Overall it was a very insightful day full of powerful conversations. I wanted to leave you with some takeaways from some of my fellow global thought leaders
"There is a consensus in the tech community that the world has much to gain by establishing uniform standards and best practices that encourage collaboration on a global basis. The best technologies shouldn’t be trapped by national boundaries or trade wars - they should be accessible so that we can all benefit from the opportunities they bring."
"All the conversation during the day reminds a poem of Can Yucel, a prominent poet and life activist in Turkey: “The longest distance is not the Indian Ocean, not the Everest and not the galaxies. The longest distance in this universe is the distance between two people who don’t understand each other..”
To build trust we have to understand each other and in this crowded world, this can only be made today with technology. From monetary transactions to every kind of investment we need the technology, and without it, there will be no trust.
But I must admit that the post-truth era ignites the populism. Unfortunately, politicians create fear about how technology will destroy jobs and the human touch. All of these are false statements that are very popular among the vast majority.
Me, I believe in technology, but saying the right things doesn’t help anything. We have to make the people believe in it. We are a bunch of people who believe in technology and there is no need to convince each other on that matter.
Because, for a true believer no explanation is necessary, but if somebody doesn’t believe, no explanation is possible.
We have to make people understand that freedom, education, and justice will be better than ever with technology. The only way to make them believe is, to make it happen. We have to prove it."
"Technology has always been the driver to take our world to the next level.
When I compare my conversations at the Trust in Tech Symposium with my dialogs with entrepreneurs, board members and executives, the same question always arises: Why should we trust emerging technologies, especially artificial intelligence (AI)?
To make the best of it, it is worth taking a look at both sides of the coin. On the one hand, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) or blockchain offer tremendous potential for new business and social opportunities. On the other hand, we have to be aware of our responsibility and actively manage risks and rewards.
At the moment I see a big lack of understanding. This challenge has to be solved – through even more transparency, the further education of people and collaboration for the responsible advancement of technology.
So, the counter-question is: Why shouldn’t we trust emerging technologies?
In the end, we need to answer one question for ourselves: Do we want to take part in shaping our digital future? Or will we just watch?"
Huawei is active in 300 Tech4ALL projects around the world. They want to show the potential of AI. They say the acceptance and trust of the tech will lead development
The bottom line, to trust tech, we need to trust humans first. Mike Flache shared this sentiment when he said "before we get into business with someone, we establish if we can trust them. We need to invest in ourselves to ensure our foundations are trustworthy"
How we think and how we behave as an individual and as a society will be some of the keys to continue to build trust and transparency in this digital world.