As we say goodbye to the first quarter of 2015, the debates emerging around technology leave us with plenty of food for thought.
Baroness Martha Lane Fox (notable digital entrepreneur and founder of success story lastminute.com) opened the week with the annual BBC Richard Dimbleby lecture at the National Science Museum. The event takes place every year in honour of the BBC’s first wartime correspondent, Richard Dimbleby. Since his time, debate surrounding technology has undoubtedly become increasingly potent.
Despite the government’s recognition of the need to keep pace with evolving technology in the final Budget of term, and the introduction of a new Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy, concerns that we are not yet ahead of the game in the UK were brought to light at the lecture.
The Baroness voiced her fear that, thus far, politicians, decision-makers and the media alike have failed to understand the importance of technology at the dawn of the digital age. Memorably, she called for better coverage from journalists.
“You’re not asking the tricky questions,’ she admonished, ‘no more about the price of milk – what’s the price of broadband?”
Aside from concerns over the quality and value of British broadband, her overarching mission seems to be to spark debate in the lead-up to the General Election, to promote digital education and to get more women and marginalised groups into an industry perceived as ‘male-dominated’.
This week, reporter Zoe Kleinmenn of BBC news supported Baroness Fox’s quest for a more diverse and inclusive approach to technology, its users and its workforce. The challenge is for people to understand the internet more deeply – from leaders and legislators to users – and to be both ‘curious and critical’ in their digital lives. Only then, argues the Baroness, will they be able to tackle the most complex challenges facing society, such as privacy and security. As part of her campaign, she has launched a petition for a new public institution.
Discussion about data legislation, for example, needs to be aired as traditional platforms such as Microsoft Server 2003 expire, and numerous businesses and organisations move towards more efficient environments such as the Cloud. Beneath the surface, game-changing topics such as the future of the NHS are inseparable from such discussions as our public services seek to save costs and boost performance with the help of new technologies.
The message to us is clear – technology needs to be on our radar, especially if we want to compete digitally on an international scale.