Evolving technology has forced businesses and even entire governments to reconsider the way we address societal issues even as new ones are created. So how should these systems and the individuals that lead them account for the influence of technology that hasn’t been fully regulated by law?
Though there’s inevitably no perfect answer, Ana Patricia Botín presented some of her ideas for enabling humane global growth at the University of Miami Business School back in April, as part of their Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series. Botín, executive chairman of the Santander Group, gave a presentation entitled A New Deal For The Digital Age in which she addressed how the world can adapt to change and tackle problems such as growing levels of wealth inequality.
The central issue with moving into a more digital age is the fact that much of what has been created in recent years has no precedent. Recent court cases concerning privacy, artificial intelligence, and digital currency have helped test the waters of what should or shouldn’t be tolerated. This coupled with the rise of tech giants such as Google and Amazon has cast a new light on the leeway businesses can and should have to grow and innovate. It’s a delicate balancing act where, too often, the average citizen may not have much choice in how they are affected.
According to Botín, technology has effectively lowered the barriers between many industries, causing sectors to blend together in a way they haven’t in the past.
“What is a transport company? What is a payments company?” she said. “We really need to reflect upon what is the new competitive policy and how to treat regulation.”
She spoke on the European Union’s efforts to set boundaries on privacy and the sharing of data—a hot button issue when private information is often bought and sold without an individual’s consent and data breaches can expose the sensitive information of millions. Figuring out how to both regulate and secure personal data has been a thorn in the side of many governments and businesses. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation has cracked down on the sale of data and led the charge in preserving consumer privacy and rights. They’ve also started to work on laws to help manage the propagation of propaganda, libel, and hate speech over the internet.
Botín emphasized a need to fight the world’s growing wealth inequality while still maintaining the rights of citizens. Growth is seen as positive—especially for business—but corporations may need to take an active role in knowing how to balance their own growth with the rights of citizens where laws haven’t been formed to protect them yet. This goes beyond corporate social responsibility and moves into the territory of the relationship between businesses and governments and what should be regulated on a larger scale.
Visit the University of Miami Business School’s website to learn more about Botín’s presentation and other leaders that have visited.