The fourth industrial revolution is on our doorstep. This revolution is an absolute juggernaut of technological evolution that is moving exponentially faster than the first three. And it is rapidly transforming the way that every single person on this planet lives and works. Will Canada act or be acted upon by this transformation?
For optimists, big data offers the potential to solve some of the world’s most pressing economic, social and environmental problems. Things like a cure for cancer and the elimination of language barriers or something as mundane as avoiding traffic jams. Pessimists rightfully point out the unethical use of private information, exploited for commercial or political gain or simply woefully mismanaged.
Whatever lens one applies to big data, it will be like oxygen for the fourth industrial revolution, the very fuel of innovation. It will be the currency of this century’s wealth creators.
We are now experiencing a debate here in Canada over personal data and privacy, with pressure to redefine consent, increase penalties for non-compliance and increase transparency obligations. New laws being created in various jurisdictions around the world are very much a reaction to massive security safeguard breaches and declining trust. But we need to be careful not to cloud opportunity with an overactive regulatory imagination. Canada needs clarity on how it will approach and treat privacy versus anonymity, consent and penalties for non-compliance—and we need to get it right.
The right framework for Canada to be an actor in the coming data economy is one that creates trust and incentivizes innovation. To act upon the fourth industrial revolution risks seeing our country’s prosperity decline significantly, despite having all the right tools to succeed.
Over the past 12 months, The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been exploring the critical intersections between prosperity, technology and privacy through a series of roundtables and discussions with data industry and privacy experts. Over the coming weeks, we will be releasing a series of thought-provoking papers that reveal the essence of these discussions.
First up? Canada’s data opportunity will be examined in Data for Good.