Our Tech Breakfast series commenced on 7 June with Geoff White speaking on the latest developments in technology that are affecting our world. The Tech Breakfast Series invites thought leaders to cover a wide range of different subjects impacting the technology and innovation sector.
Geoff White is an investigative journalist for Channel 4 News and the BBC. He specialises in tech security, online crime, personal data and privacy and is the author of the audio series The Dark Web and the co – creator of The Secret Life of Your Mobile Phone. Geoff spoke on a range of current issues and topics affecting companies and individuals in the technology and cyber-security sectors, including the rise of augmented reality, privacy and GDPR, cyber-security and the dark web and AI technology.
Geoff discussed the issue of how targeted advertising and augmented technology is shaping how individuals see and interact on the internet. Online sites such as Facebook are tailored to the individual based on marketing preferences, internet use and influenced by personal data. This means that individuals live in a cyber ‘bubble’, only seeing one side to a story. The effect of this was highlighted in the US, where Cambridge Analytica is alleged to have used publicly available data scraped from Facebook to enhance the Trump campaign on social media.
Geoff also ventured into the dark web, explaining how information is traded and leaked through online channels by anonymised users and explained the issues with relying on the content of the information leaked without knowing the source of the information.
Of course, no talk at a law firm could be complete without mentioning GDPR. Geoff raised an interesting point that under GDPR companies will now have to tell customers when there has been a data breach of their personal information. If customers decide to report data breaches to journalists this could result in worldwide coverage, as seen with the Panama Papers. This is already a trend in the US and could cause significant reputational damage to companies associated with personal data breaches.
Geoff discussed AI technology and how it is already shaping our work force. He made a distinction between AI technology and the Hollywood vision of robotics with human qualities. Companies, mostly the financial sector, are already incorporating AI technology into their processes, such as allowing AI to determine when to buy or sell stocks. Although this still poses real issues for legislators and insurers in terms of how to apportion risk and responsibility.
So how can companies in the tech sector best prepare and respond to these developments? The answer is to invest in creating new talent in the UK. He explained how we need to be investing in the future work force, which means ensuring those in schools and in universities are learning how to understand and write code so that UK tech companies can compete in and thrive in this industry.
Our next Tech Breakfast series which will be held on 11 October with Matthew McLarty from Oxford Innovation and will be speaking on working with startup tech companies.