Technological advancements – Balance between Earnings-Per-Share and Ethics-Privacy-Security

Processing Power accelerating new technologies: AI/ML, Big Data and IoT

Computing power is the driving force for recent advancements in AI/ML, Cloud Computing, BigData and IoT technologies. Tech companies are striving hard to maintain and expand their dominance in the tech field by using advanced processor technologies. For instance, Google has released its third-generation TPU processor, at 2018 I/O developers conference, for AI/ML applications. The company has also demonstrated some machine learning applications in healthcare which are beneficial to the society. One such application is predicting cardiovascular risk from retinal images [1][7].

Fierce competition to augment processing power is not only present among tech companies but also present among different countries. In June 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has unveiled the world’s most powerful supercomputer called Summit [2]. “Summit’s AI-optimized hardware also gives researchers an incredible platform for analyzing massive datasets and creating intelligent software to accelerate the pace of discovery,” said Jeff Nichols, ORNL associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences [2].

Convergence of IoT, Big Data and AI/ML has the potential to transform different sectors: health care, education, transportation, finance and lifestyle [3]. Quantum computing is going to expedite this transformation much further. Undoubtedly new technologies will increase Earnings-Per-Share(EPS) for many companies. However, there are some concerns about Ethics-Privacy-Security aspects that need to be addressed.


Monetization of the technology should not be the only objective for companies. Ethics must be followed to protect consumer well-being. Tech industry has started taking some positive steps in this direction. Google and Apple have announced some initiatives that can assist users to use smartphones judiciously. Microsoft has recently established “AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research” (AETHER) Committee to address AI specific issues responsibly [4]. We need more such initiatives from the companies to reduce unfavorable consequences due to new technologies.

Privacy should be the default feature, particularly, in this era of connected devices and IoT. Apple CEO Tim Cook in his interview with CNN has said that “Privacy is a fundamental human right,” and also added that Apple does not make money by monetizing the data [5]. There is already some momentum both in government and tech industry to address the issues related to privacy. EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an example for government initiative on privacy. Google has also recently updated its privacy policy so that users can understand its privacy practices clearly. These measures indicate that the tech industry has recognized the severity of privacy concerns.

Security is vital for any technology to gain public trust. Even though IoT devices and autonomous vehicles provide many benefits, they can also pose some risk to the safety of consumers in case of security-related flaws. Quantum computing which will increase computing power enormously has the potential to break the current encryption methods of all software products and platforms [6]. So new challenges in security are expected due to IoT and Quantum computing. Both government and industry should ensure safety and security of users with advanced security standards. Also, security-related software upgrade procedures for connected devices should be made more straightforward and seamless for the end user.

Balance: Earnings-Per-Share and Ethics-Privacy-Security

AI/ML, Big Data and IoT technologies have immense potential to positively impact human lives if Ethics-Privacy-Security concerns are properly addressed. Government regulation may not be the only solution for all the concerns related to technology. However, government and tech companies should work together proactively to achieve a delicate balance between Earnings-Per-Share (EPS) and Ethics-Privacy-Security (2nd EPS).









2 comments on “Technological advancements – Balance between Earnings-Per-Share and Ethics-Privacy-Security”

  1. Great topic and post, Rama. I had a conversation just last week with a family member about DNA testing companies such as 23andme. My family member wanted to get their DNA tested, but they don’t trust giving such personal information to a for-profit company that may use their data in ways that they don’t approve of. I wonder what specific gov’t regulations could help here? Here, as with many other unique databases, the aggregate data of a community, demographic, or population’s DNA could be hugely beneficial in helping prevent diseases, prepare for upcoming population health risks, etc.

  2. Hi Jeff, I agree that data privacy is very critical when it comes to health-related data. At the same time, reasonable use of aggregate data with new technologies will be helpful to accelerate health-related innovation. In my opinion, companies gaining insights into health data and then monetizing it or creating a business out of it should be discouraged. On the other hand, we should encourage companies whose motto is to do health-related research and discovery for the benefit of people. Users should also be made aware of the risks associated with data sharing.


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