Last month, Chris Pereira, President & CEO of Canadian Ecosystem Institute, a communications and market research firm dedicated to enabling Canada-China business opportunities, guided a live webinar discussion on the contemporary applications and impacts of technology across multiple domains as part of the 2021 University of British Columbia China Forum.
As roundtable moderator, Pereira focused the conversation on critical topics relating to technology in Canada and China, namely, social data, cybersecurity, technology policy and governance, and women in the field of tech. Distinguished guest speakers included Andreas Weigend, former Chief Scientist of Amazon, and the author of the book Data for the People; Bill Tam, Co-Founder and COO of the Digital Technology Supercluster; and Olivera Zatezalo, a global cybersecurity expert and Chief Security Officer of Huawei Canada.
Andreas Weigend emphasized China’s global leadership in electronic commerce and financial technology. He underlined how Canada has the opportunity to benefit by emulating China’s technology innovation system. Bill Tam commented on opportunities for Canada to leverage its relative standing on the international stage through its reputation and develop a leadership position to further conversations on the appropriate uses of artificial intelligence, data trust, and cybersecurity. Likewise, guest speaker, Olivera Zatezalo touched on Canada’s relative strengths in relation to building resilient cybersecurity frameworks in line with Canadian values.
The roundtable advanced valuable insights on the future of technology across key sectors in Canada and China. It offered fresh perspectives on how to think about the use of data in everyday life, particularly at a time when digital adoption is accelerating at an unprecedented pace.
As the founder of CEI, Chris Pereira looks forward to continuing the dialogue on the opportunities and challenges of technological adoption in Canada and China.
Technology RoundTable One: The Rise of Social Data
In the current era, actors can use social networking sites to monitor consumer preferences, customer desires, feelings, views, and ideas. As a result, social data has become an integral part of modern society. Pereira asked Mr. Weigend, a world-renowned expert in technology and social networks, a series of questions in order to raise awareness about the value of social data and broaden people’s understanding of how governments and businesses use it.
Pereira raised the question of who owns data that is published into the public domain. In response, Mr. Weigend indicated that the most important question to ask is not who controls data but rather what it means to own data.
“Take an apple for example. We know what it means to own an apple. I can eat it, or I can give it to you. Data is much trickier because if I use some channel and fork over some data to you, then I kind of still have it. Therefore, data ownership essentially means that you can act upon the data.”
The Data Dilemma—A New Challenge
To elaborate, Weigend stated that the emergence of social data has created a ‘data dilemma’. The dilemma occurs when people want privacy for themselves, yet people also want accountability for others. The nature of the data problem, according to Weigend, has created new challenges in decision-making circles.
Weigend indicated that every sort of social data can be improved. Public and private actors with access to social data, on the other hand, must take into account the lives and livelihoods of people. People, in particular, dislike having their objective functions made public.
In general, social data is used to run contemporary society. Given this, Weigend believes that data can be used to inform the majority of decision-making. Nevertheless, data comes with uncertainty. There will always be both challenges and opportunities, so it is important for people to develop their data literacy and gain a better understanding of their data vulnerabilities.
Pereira is looking forward to future conversations about the current position of social data in both the public and private sectors, as well as how to use best practises to improve the value of data.
Dr. Andreas Weigend is the former Chief Scientist at Amazon and a member of Germany’s Digital Council ‘Digitalrat’. He is a world-renowned expert on the effects of big data and artificial intelligence on industry and society. He is the author of the book Data for the People and a frequent guest lecturer at the University of California Berkeley as well as Fudan University in Shanghai.