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Global Technology Governance Report 2021

Harnessing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies in a COVID-19 world

The World Economic Forum and Deloitte examine key applications of 4IR technologies for thriving in a postpandemic world and identify governance challenges that these technologies can help to address.

The recovery from COVID-19 has started a wave of innovations in work, collaboration, distribution and service delivery—and shifted many customer behaviours, habits and expectations. Several of the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) including Artificial Intelligence (AI), mobility (including autonomous vehicles), blockchain, drones and the Internet of Things (IoT) have been at the centre of these innovations and are likely to play an outsized role in what emerges postpandemic. Working together, the public and private sectors have the opportunity to nurture 4IR technology development while mitigating the risks of unethical or malicious uses. How governments and other stakeholders approach the governance of 4IR technologies will play an important role in how we reset society, the economy and the business environment. The World Economic Forum and Deloitte’s latest report examines the opportunities and complications of governance for a set of 4IR technologies: AI, mobility, blockchain, drones and IoT.

Cross-cutting technology governance challenges

Each individual technology presents their own unique set of governance challenges, much of which is detailed in the full version of this study. Our analysis also revealed a host of common challenges across the five 4IR technologies we focussed on. While many pre-dated COVID-19, the pandemic and its aftermath has accelerated the urgency of addressing them.

Innovative governance frameworks

To address these and other challenges, innovative governance and regulatory frameworks are emerging to support the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Our analysis found several common themes across the areas of technology discussed in this report.

  • Ethical governance: The Government of New Zealand established a Privacy, Human Rights and Ethics (PHRaE) framework.
  • Public-private co-ordination: The Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association for self-regulation of virtual currencies (JVCEA).
  • Agile, responsive regulation: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) has been revising guidance on AVs as the technology is evolving.
  • Experimental: Sandboxes and accelerators: World Bank blockchain innovation lab to reduce global poverty.
  • Data sharing/interoperability: Data sharing framework for the IoT created by the Alliance for Telecommunications industry Solutions.
  • Regulatory collaboration: The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) facilitating a forum to develop a framework to harmonise AV regulations.

Read the full report Global technology governance report 2021: Harnessing 4IR technologies in a COVID-19 world.

Read Deloitte’s executive summary with key highlights from the report.

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