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May 2019

In this edition of the Radar, we look at the big questions around the impact of technology on society; and consider the role of regulators, governments and enterprises in ensuring that the impact of new technologies, particularly AI, is a positive one.

In our first article, we focus on the impact of AI on societal inequality. Contrasting two future scenarios, we explore the possible consequences for employment, as well as the opportunities presented in healthcare and education. There is clear potential for AI to exacerbate the existing wealth divide in society, but support is growing for action at a global level to minimise this effect, and maximise the benefits.

We go on to consider in more detail the role of regulation in the evolving technology ecosystem. We look at the challenges involved in regulating AI, where ethical questions are posed by the capabilities of machines or algorithms to make real-world decisions; and more general regulation of the tech sector. We explore some possible new regulatory models, such as the creation of a new digital asset class, but recognise also the increasingly important role that consumer trust has to play.

One way technology can have a huge impact on socioeconomic development is through the provision of financial services. In Sub-Saharan Africa only 43% of adults have a bank account, but mobile technology is spearheading a transition towards a digital banking ecosystem. How this will evolve is unclear, but it could have hugely significant ramifications for the region. We consider the drivers behind this development, and the spectrum of what it could achieve: from a failure to move beyond peer-to-peer payments, to a digital banking revolution.

Finally, our in-graphics section explains how the invention of CRISPR and developments in computation and AI are driving advances in genetic engineering, and how this will impact our society, in healthcare and beyond.

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