The future of technology's role in society is unclear. Microsoft has laid out what they believe to be the three possible solutions. The best solution is Peak. Then there is Plateau, which is basically a continuation of the current state of technology's role in society. Finally, Canyon is a scenario where bad policy and protectionism leads to a de-emphasis of technology's role to improve society, economics, and governance.
Obviously the most ideal situation would be a Peak outcome. Microsoft describes Peak as, "a world of innovation, where information and communications technology (ICT) fulfills its potential to strengthen governance models, economies and societies." Some examples of how this is being achieved today would be using data to track crime, or using real time video conferencing to broker trade deals. Microsoft hopes to see technology being used more and more in the future to overcome barriers of language, distance, and complexity.
A Plateau situation would occur if companies and governments are not proactive in improving laws and practices concerning use of technology and handling of data. For example, Microsoft points to the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act which they say needs updating. In light of recent government abuses of data, Microsoft wants modern laws to address data privacy while stating clearly the role of law enforcement. Microsoft thinks the EU has done a better job of promoting cyber security standards throughout EU states and their partners.
The darkest future would be the Canyon situation. Here technology is stifled by bad policy. Society hesitates to integrate technology into daily life because of fears stemming from security threats and data surveillance. In a Canyon future, businesses, consumers, and governments would no longer benefit from technological innovations. This future is caused by over protecting platforms, abuse of data, and unclear government policies.
Ensuring we achieve a Peak future is not easy. There is no single clear path toward ensuring a bright future. Companies and governments have to ensure their policies and practices lead to a more transparent and competitive environment. Microsoft believes there are three clear areas of focus for working toward a Peak future. First, governments need clear policies concerning customer data privacy and free trade. Second, companies and governments need to foster talent development by investing in infrastructure, research and education. Finally, global standards need to be developed to enable communication to improve transparency and security. These three pillars form the foundation of a brighter, more free future for all.
Do you think Microsoft has done a good job detailing the future of technology's role in society? Where do you think the world is headed? Let us know in the comments below!