November 16, 2023

A Global Perspective on Emerging Technologies

Organized and co-sponsored by nine universities across the country including the Center for Global Business at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, Lightning Talks is a series of virtual discussions covering business resilience and how businesses can prepare for future global shocks.

Now in its second year, the Lightning Talks Series is focused on global perspectives of emerging technologies. As the second of three installments, experts from three universities gathered on Nov. 2, 2023, to dissect insightful perspectives on the digital leapfrogs, AI's promise and peril for marginalized populations, and the far-reaching effects of the robot revolution.

Featured experts included Maryland Smith’s Assistant Professor of Information Systems Lauren Rhue, Professor of Marketing Vijay Mahajan at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, and Assistant Professor of International Business Rodimiro Rodrigo at the George Washington University School of Business. 

Mahajan set the stage by emphasizing the transformative power of digital leapfrogs. Focusing on the democratization of consumer markets, Mahajan pointed out that 86% of the world's population resides in developing countries, with India taking a prominent role in the digital revolution. The burgeoning middle class, particularly the C-class, is steering revolutions across education, public services, finance, agriculture, healthcare, retail, and e-commerce sectors. The profound impact on media and entertainment is evident, with India emerging as the largest market for global tech giants like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

The stage then shifted to Rhue who delved into the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence for marginalized populations. Rhue's analysis showcased the exponential improvements in AI and its transformative applications, from generative AI creating believable hallucinations to predictive AI unveiling unwanted patterns. However, she warned of the potential pitfalls, as AI, while capable of reducing bias, could also perpetuate and replicate it, reinforcing stereotypes and replacing opportunities for creative work.

Finally, Rodrigo explained the complexities of the robot revolution and its effects on emerging markets. Drawing on global economic insights, Rodrigo highlighted the dichotomy of positive and negative outcomes. Developed countries with high robot density experienced increased labor productivity, while the implications for developing nations depended on their adoption status. For China, where adoption was intense, the implications for global trade partners were substantial and required a nuanced analysis.

As the experts shared their findings, a narrative unfolded – a story of the interconnected world where digital leapfrogs, AI advancements, and robot revolutions converged at the crossroads of global business. The center is a hub of innovation and critical discourse, fostering collaboration among researchers, policymakers, and business leaders to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by the ever-evolving landscape of technology on a global scale.

Stay tuned for more information on the last of this year’s series, set to take place on December 7.

Lightning Talks is supported in part by CIBE, a Title VI grant provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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