Here is a landscape review of hot topics in the world of data in 2020 – from digital competition, AI and trade to data rights, ethics and literacy. You’ll find an overview of the key issues and pointers to areas with potential for further exploration through research, development and practice.
AI and machine learning algorithms are increasingly being used to make decisions – including decisions about us. But how are these decisions made? How can algorithms be interrogated or understood, and how do we ensure that unfair bias isn’t being built in – even unintentionally? More fundamentally, should some decisions be automated at all?
Some problems can only be tackled through collective action. For example, some major diseases can only be tackled if scientists, charities and pharmaceutical companies work together. Sharing data can be an essential part of these collaborations. But who manages that data? Who ensures it’s shared and used in the right way? New data institutions could be an answer.
Digital services such as social media, e-commerce, peer-to-peer platforms, search, and online advertising pose a number of challenges to competition policy: they are international, evolve quickly, and it can sometimes be hard for new entrants to compete.
People and organisations rely on data to make better decisions or to innovate – from improving how we travel to improving cancer diagnosis. But recently, headlines have focused on data controversies – such as the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal – leading to justified public concern around how personal data is being used. How can we ensure that data – both personal and non-personal – is collected, used and shared with minimal harm, and that technology is developed and deployed responsibly?
Data is a new form of infrastructure that underpins every sector of our society and economy, but it is often broken and neglected. If data cannot be accessed, used and shared in a trustworthy and consistent way, then many essential services could be under threat. Open data is the foundation of this data infrastructure
Fake news and deepfakes are the tip of the iceberg in how technology enables and aggravates misinformation at speed and scale. As regulators struggle to keep up, misinformation poses a clear and present risk to democracy and trust in politics.
Can we own data about us? Can we sell access to data that isn’t just about us but about others? Are enhanced rights and responsibilities the key to greater control over how data about us is used? The debate between ownership and rights is not as straightforward as it seems.
“Data-driven companies that focus on continuous learning will be more productive and gain a competitive edge.” — Accenture’s Data Business Group
Data flows in international trade support considerable economic activity across the world, but increasing trust in them could boost innovation and growth even further. To take part in complex data sharing for trade in services and the development of frontier technology, countries will be competing on the quality of their national data infrastructure – the data that they have access to, how they share it, and their ability to enforce privacy regulations.
Many people now recognise how important data is to our societies and economies, but how to value data is still an area of active research. Being able to put a value to data should help governments and organisations know where to invest.
About the ODI
The ODI was co-founded in 2012 by the inventor of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and artificial intelligence expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt to show the value of open data, and to advocate for the innovative use of open data to affect positive change across the globe.
Headquartered in London, with an international reach, hundreds of members, thousands of people trained, dozens of startups incubated, and a convening space based in the heart of London’s thriving Shoreditch area, we invite everyone interested in developing with data – whether on an individual, organisational or global level – to get in touch.