CAPE TOWN - Technological advancements have left many behind while only benefiting a few. Leaders in technology have done little to develop technologies that truly address major challenges in society.
Instead, technology leaders have developed devices, apps and tech tools that focus on minor issues in society with limited benefits.
The scale of current challenges requires a major shift by technology leaders and organisations to step up their innovation as well as partnership efforts and develop products that truly make a difference.
The challenge of digital exclusion has inspired the deputy chairperson of Huawei, Ken Hu, to call upon individuals and organisations to join Huawei to address challenges related to healthcare, education, development and the environment. He issued this call during his talk at the Huawei Connect 2019 event where he outlined an initiative and model applied by Huawei to enable digital inclusion.
The Tech 4 All initiative looks at solving some of the major challenges in society through partnerships with institutions that understand such problems. A partnership with other technology companies that are focused on solving those challenges and developing a technology that truly addresses such a programme.
As part of this process, Huawei is collaborating with the UN – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme. The SDGs are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. One of the goals that areis addressed by Huawei through the Tech 4 All initiative is health.
Huawei has also partnered with a Spanish medical research lab, IIS Aragon, and DIVE, a Spanish research centre, to develop a new medical device that can detect visual impairment in young children. Through the device, children simply need to look at images on the screen of a mobile device, which stimulate the eyeballs.
The DIVE system then collects gaze data and then transmits this data to a P30 cellphone. With the assistance of an artificial intelligence platform and machine learning capability of the P30 cellphone, a doctor can then analyse the data and detect the signs of eye diseases. This collaboration between these entities has resulted in an app called Track AI.
Track AI is a device that is easy to use, portable, and affordable. It is not a replacement for a professional medical diagnosis, but rather a helpful tool for faster assessment by trained parents. It can identify children with damaged eyesight, and in doing so, improve the health and quality of life of children all over the world.
The SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The goals interconnect and to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve each goal and target by 2030.
There’s also a risk that some of these goals may not be realised. More technology leaders and organisations should pay attention to the call by the Chinese technology giant and work with the UN in the process of realising some of the SDGs.
The process of designing, development and implementation of future technology products should embrace digital inclusion. They should ensure that there's access, adoption and application of technology products and services developed.
This means that technology products and services will have to strive for availability and affordability. They need to be designed so they are relevant and that communities have digital literacy. They also have to take into account economic and workforce development, education, health care, public safety and social connections.
Technology leaders and organisations that adopt this approach will truly have an impact on society and not just a short-lived benefit.
Wesley Diphoko is the Editor-in-Chief of The Infonomist. You can follow him on Twitter via: @WesleyDiphoko