Sophia (C), a life-like humanoid robot, is pictured at the UN headquarters in New York, Oct. 11, 2017. Sophia was here attending a meeting on "The Future of Everything - Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change".
The future will no longer be what we once thought -- the idea was best illustrated by a United Nation conference which invited Wednesday a special participant -- a blond beauty to its debate on sustainable development.
People might take the lady for one of the participants if they fail to notice the twinkling lights and colourful cables organizers might have intentionally left on her back and her head. But Sophy, as called by organizers, has apparently succeeded in reinforcing the theme of the conference -- Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change.
It is widely acknowledged that the pace and breadth of technological advances are intensifying, and by 2030 - the target date for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals - the world will have undergone further changes in the realm of daily human interaction.
Many changes already underway are having a profound impact on our economies, societies and ecosystems, participants at the UN meeting said.
Industrial processes are becoming increasingly automated and robotized, with human intervention increasingly confined to specific tasks. Rapid growth in large datasets, and the capacity to store and use them, offer new resources for research, analysis and problem-solving, but can also be used by cyber-criminals.
Ubiquitous computing, facilitated by advances in the Internet of Things in combination with 5G, big data and nanotech, will also be key drivers of change. We may truly be at the beginning of what has been referred to as the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," organizers of the meeting noticed.
In many of these areas, ethical questions arise around the potential of technological advancements to outpace policies and regulations and, in the process, undermine societal norms. While many advances hold great promise for sustainable development and poverty eradication, they also risk leaving much of the world behind in a global context in which inequalities are already sharply felt.
To address these challenges and forge solutions for using technological change as a catalyst for inclusive development, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Second Committee of the General Assembly will organise a joint meeting on "The Future of Everything - Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change."
The discussion will focus on best practices and new initiatives with respect to the latest developments in this area, including how policy-makers and their partners can harness the benefits of progress in science and technology, while minimizing their unintended, negative consequences.