How and why should humanity influence advancements in technology? That was the topic in focus at the Meta Conversations: Tech and Humanity Conference held during the Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology (SWITCH).
According to Scott Harley, venture capitalist and author of The Fuzzy and the Techie, we are now at a stage of technological development where the human context cannot be overlooked. As such, it is time for social scientists, educators, and anthropologists to philosophers, to be involved in the decisions around technological development that will ultimately shape our future.
Likewise, Peng T Ong, managing partner of Monk's Hill Ventures, noted the importance of having humanitarians and classical thinkers in leadership positions. Only by doing so will we start thinking seriously about the purpose and meaning behind technological developments, he claimed.
"The 'why' behind technology should be rooted in the interests of the people. The answers lie in the cross section between tech and humanity. Our most deeply humane innovations will draw from the depth of our collective identity and life's purposes," said Kuik Shiao-Yin, nominated member of Parliament of the 12th and 13th Parliament of Singapore.
In line with this, Grace Sai, the CEO and co-founder of Impact Hub Singapore and managing partner of Hub Ventures Fund, asserted that the most successful startups are driven not by money but their mission.
"What we need to see more of in Singapore is startups with 'audacity of purpose' - aiming to solve meaningful problems. The next generations of entrepreneurs [should thus] think big, and look at how they can bring about innovations and disruptions which serve the nation," she said.
Companies should also do the same, advised Piyush Gupta, CEO and director, DBS Group. "We need to ask ourselves whether our quest for growth is compromising other things like the planet or our humanity. And we need to change our measurement systems - giving thought to what is important to us as a society; what we value and how we want to live."
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