Sync Digital Wellbeing Summit Roundup

A week on from co-hosting the inaugural Sync Digital Wellbeing Summit, I am still meditating on our relationship with technology, and how we can flourish in the digital age.

Here are three powerful ideas that we discussed:

“Digitalisation has really empowered my country – we have come a long way and we are not stopping.” – Carmen Raal, Digital Transformation Adviser at e-Estonia

Estonia has digitised 99% of its public services (with the exception of marriages and divorces). Carmen described the extent to which digitalisation impacts Estonians from cradle to grave.

👶 When a baby is born, they are immediately issued with an e-Identity. The parents receive a message, congratulating them on their arrival and confirming the bank account in which they wish to receive their child support. It is a truly exceptional country that has embraced digital transformation like no other.

“The notion that we have to pick between skilled humans or powerful technology, is not true.” – Andrew McAfee, Co-Founder & Co-Director of MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

Andrew told a story about the ancient strategy game Go. In 2017, a self-taught AI became the world’s greatest Go player.

🤖 However, far from discouraging human players, worldwide interest in the game increased dramatically. Moreover, the best human players learnt from the technology that beat them and in turn, got better at the game. The rate of improvement in humans playing Go is faster than ever before in human history.

“All of us are as if we are children online because we can be monitored and measured so thoroughly and susceptible to influence in roundabout ways. It makes all of us somewhat naive.” – Jonathan Zittrain, Co-Founder of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

For Jonathan, the ever expanding digital world has the potential to both enhance and limit our autonomy.

🤝 As companies gain increasing power over our everyday lives, they must introduce a fiduciary standard; a commitment to prioritise the interests of their users, even where this might conflict with the interests of the business.

It was a privilege to help facilitate these vital conversations. I believe that collectively, we can begin to improve our understanding of the impact that technology is having on humanity, and how we can develop a more balanced relationship with our devices.