What impact will new technologies have on our lives? Job losses or new opportunities?

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Dr Rowena Rodrigues
- Head of Innovation & Research

Date: 5 February 2018

Trilateral Research’s SIENNA team is researching the social, economic and environmental impacts of new technologies.

As part of the SIENNA project (a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Union), Trilateral Research is conducting socio-economic and environmental impact assessments of human enhancement technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics to provide insights that will help advance the discussion on these topics.

The prospect of a future more thoroughly infused with human enhancement technologies, AI and robotics represents an opportunity to assess what we can expect of them in the social, economic and environmental domains – good, bad or neutral.

Impact assessments provide evidence-based analysis and evaluation, drawn from sources such as current scholarship and expert consultations. The foci of such assessments can be innovations in technologies, industry practices, regulations or government policies.

The timing of Trilateral’s assessments is germane given rising public interest and discussion in technological impacts at the international and national level and what they portend for humanity’s future. As an example of that rising interest, the Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence recently convened public sessions with experts to explain the legal and ethical issues associated with AI (more information available here). The value of socio-economic and environmental impact assessments is most apparent when their results and recommendations help guide decision-makers in developing policy, procedures and plans.

Trilateral’s socio-economic and environmental impact assessments of human enhancement technologies  will consider matters such as:

  • Possible alteration or improvement of human capabilities
  • Potential competitive advantage of enhanced individuals over others
  • Increased reliance on technologies

Trilateral’s AI and robotics socio-economic and environmental impact assessment will consider matters such as:

  • Potential changes to the labour force and working
  • Impacts on societal values such as autonomy, equality, privacy
  • Harmful impacts on the climate and environment

We will share our findings about these and other topics in the coming months. In the meantime, please visit the SIENNA website and contribute your views on the above issues, which will provide useful input to the SIENNA project.

For more information about how you can play a role, please contact Trilateral’s Policy, Ethics and Emerging Technology team.

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