Technology for good—it’s how we use it

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Earlier this year I joined a fireside chat between two Silicon Valley titans. During the discussion, each shared their understanding of technology and what it can deliver for humanity. Their views differed. One CEO referred to technology as a neutral tool. “It’s how we shape it, use it. How do we protect [against] the bad?” Conversely, the other CEO sees technology as a positive force. “There are bad pieces of it. But I think the technology fundamentally is how we can do more with less and do things that we can’t do on our own.”

Both viewpoints can be true.

Technology has the power to make our world a better place. It can connect people from all walks of life, help to boost a suffering economy, capture, and share data to help humans make smarter decisions, and remotely manage crops to feed impoverished communities. The opportunities are endless.

Each year, the United Nations celebrates World Creativity and Innovation Day to raise awareness of the role of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development. Innovation and technology are imperative to harnessing the economic potential of nations and continuing the momentum toward achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are 17 interconnected goals to achieve a better, more sustainable future.

Silicon Valley companies are using processors and design innovation to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges and address the SDGs. For example, IoT sensor companies use low-power, long-range connectivity protocols, such as LoRaWAN, to capture and analyze data across a wide range of applications. At a remote farm where access to high-bandwidth connectivity is costly or unavailable, IoT sensors can capture billions of data points and pass it quickly to the main facility, where analysis can reveal critical issues such as a break in the filtration system. Having immediate access to this level of intelligence can save crops and support the second SDG, Zero Hunger.

One way semiconductor companies are addressing the third SDG, Good Health and Well-Being, is by working with medical companies to integrate processors into telehealth tools. The chips can deliver high-bandwidth processing and real-time intelligence in remote locations, so doctors can see patients virtually and provide a diagnosis.

Many technology companies are developing solutions to address the 11th SDG goal of Sustainable Cities and Communities, which aims to ensure that communities worldwide will have access to safe, sustainable, and affordable housing. One example is vision processors inside cameras that monitor city and town intersections to improve pedestrian safety. Semiconductors are also powering air filtration solutions that can regulate the air quality inside a building or household and alert people if the air is unsafe.

As individuals and as part of larger communities, it is our responsibility to use technology for good and make the lives of future generations better than before. As we celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Day, it is important to recognize the many ways in which technology can support creativity and accelerate innovation. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that technology can be a positive or a neutral force—it’s what we do with it that matters.


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