Press Release  | 

The challenges of the digital age, identified and analysed in Digital Future Society book

  • The volume addresses the phenomenon of the digital emergency, the situation generated by an asymmetric and accelerated digital transformation that causes imbalances and inequalities.

  • The virtual event was attended by the Third Vice President and Minister for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño; and the Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas.

Digital Future Society has released today the book Faster than the future. Facing the digital age that collects some of the great challenges of the digital revolution, written by ten couples of international journalists and renowned academics, specialized in digital transformation and technological humanism.

The telematic presentation was held today simultaneously in Madrid and Barcelona and has had the institutional participation of the Vice President of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation of the Government of Spain, Nadia Calviño, who has highlighted that they will invest until the year 2023 a significant budget, more than 20,000 million euros. In addition, she assured: “We will allocate a third of the investments of the Recovery Plan to digitisation projects, an investment that must be aligned with our values ​​and constitutional rights so that this process generates well-being in society and allows us to close digital gaps, in a way that all citizens can benefit from digitization and avoid new inequalities”. The Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, who opened today's event, highlighted the importance of Faster than the future. Facing the digital age because, through an informative work, provides a picture of the current digital complexity. “The ethical and social challenges associated with this digital transformation create a global challenge that we must address from a much more holistic, multidisciplinary perspective and a clear humanistic vocation. Everyone who are here today are very clear about our commitment to humanism and knowledge, the fundamental basis for the construction of an ethical and sustainable digital future”, stated the Secretary of State.

For his part, the CEO of Mobile World Capital Barcelona, ​​Carlos Grau, has spoken about the digital emergency we are facing due to the digital revolution is leaving important sectors of the society behind. Grau stressed that technology must be a fundamental tool for change, to reduce inequalities and make the digital age inclusive. "Cooperation and collaboration between all actors and interest groups are the best strategy to face the complexity of the digital emergency: this involves the public sector, the private sector and civil society". In this sense, the director of Digital Future Society, Cristina Colom, has emphasized that, in these three years, Digital Future Society has become the meeting point to connect experts from all sectors of society at a global level to analyse and propose solutions to the challenges caused by digital transformation. "This work culminates in the publication of this book where, by the hand of ten renowned academics and ten international journalists, we reflect on how to modulate the impact of the digital age in a controlled and proportionate way."

The event was also attended by a group of authors of the book and experts who have talk about some of the dilemmas we face. These challenges have been addressed in the book as well as the steps to advance to a more inclusive and sustainable digital agenda: Joanna Bryson, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Ethics and Collaborative Cognition at the Governance Hertie School (Berlin); Jeremias Adams-Prassl, researcher specializing in technology, public innovation and the future of work at the University of Oxford; Mateo Valero, director of the National Supercomputing Center of Barcelona; Robin Wauters, founder of the technology information and market intelligence platform Also, Marta García Aller, journalist, teacher and writer specialized in digital transformation; and Belén Romana, economist, and member of the international advisory council of Digital Future Society; have debated the impact of some of these challenges in the national field.

Reflecting on the presence of Artificial Intelligence and algorithms in our lives, Professor Joanna Bryson has pointed towards the self-regulation of companies, organizations, and citizens. “We are living a fast and changing economy process, the more the companies themselves regulate themselves, the easier it will be for legislators to supervise and coordinate. Regulation and ethical application are two basic tools to protect society in the digital age”. In this regard, Jeremias Adams-Prassl, professor of law at Oxford, stressed that the state can play a leading role in creating legal support structures for companies. “We all win if the relevant actors of this changing society try to discuss the technology impacts. Workers, through committees and unions, will have the power to veto what is not fair, companies will be able to take advantage of the implementation of technology in a productive way and the state will be able to regulate a very important area in our age”.

For his part, Mateo Valero, one of the supercomputing leading experts, has spoken of the important role that supercomputing plays in many areas, for example, in the fight against the pandemic. "Supercomputing has allowed us to collect and manage all available medical data, which we analyze and make available to the medical and scientific community so that they can make the best decisions”. About the role of Europe in supercomputing, Valero stressed that "we must strive to build our own European ecosystem, have strategic technology and open collaboration to other countries, protecting ourselves with our own European technology".

A compass to face the digital future

Digital Future Society, an initiative promoted by the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation of the Government of Spain and Mobile World Capital Barcelona, ​​has connected a group of experts in their disciplines to identify and analyze the social, economic, ethical, and environmental issues that we are facing today, as a result of digital transformation. Faster than the future. Facing the digital age is the result of a deep reflection about the information and communication technologies revolution age, generating a global interdependence that already affects all areas of human activity.

Throughout the ten chapters, the authors examine the unequal development and implementation of the technological revolution, an asymmetry that causes imbalances and inequalities. They also reflect on how to modulate the impact of the digital age in a controlled and proportionate way to avoid an exclusionary transformation, which aggravates the digital emergency situation.

The volume deals with the transformation of the world of work and the expansion of the gig economy; the keys to smart and sustainable global growth; ethics in artificial intelligence field; the massive use of our data; post-truth and fake news; surveillance in our societies; supercomputing; the role of humans in the digital society; the digital feudalism concept and the evolution of cities linked to the expansion of autonomous vehicles.

Faster than the future. Facing the digital age is also a call for the international community, governments, companies, and civil society to become more aware of the need to address the digital emergency by taking action before the consequences are irreversible, guaranteeing equity, defining rights and basic protections, in addition to ensuring the sustainability of the planet.