Kate O'Neill, CEO, KO Insights

Using technology to support humanity

Emerging technology offers the potential to solve human problems at a large scale.

September 27, 2021

Kate O’Neill is passionate about solving human problems in a world that is increasingly driven by emerging technology. 

As CEO of KO Insights, O’Neill is a leading experience strategy expert and author. Her latest book is “A Future So Bright: How Strategic Optimism and Meaningful Innovation Can Restore Our Humanity and Save the World.”

O’Neill embraces the value of having more meaningful, dimensional, and integrated life experiences through technologies such as the Internet of Things, sensors, wearables, and data analytics.

"We help clients think through strategic challenges and future-looking projects with an understanding of the implications of emerging technology on humanity, artificial intelligence, ethics, and other topics,” she says. “My work deals with the impact of data and technology on our lives and our businesses, and how we as business leaders can make more intentional choices to create more human-centric experiences.”

One way to do this is through the concept of “strategic optimism,” or confronting challenges by seeing the brightest future possible while at the same time acknowledging how the future “could go dark,” O’Neill says. 

‘The future will be neither dystopia nor utopia, it will be what we do the work to make it.’
Kate O’Neill

“We have been underselling the future,” she says. “The future will be neither dystopia nor utopia, it will be what we do the work to make it. The best way to the brightest future is to focus on what we can do and make sure we’re working to get there.”

That includes using emerging technology, which offers the potential to solve human problems on a large scale, O’Neill says.

Technology is developing rapidly and will continue to change society in impactful ways. One consequence is that technology stands to widen gaps in income and wealth. 

As a result, she notes, the top 1% of the population will own most of the world’s wealth while some 80% of people may have access only to basic needs. 

“I’m drawn to the premise of solving financial problems at the community level,” she says. “I care about the impact of local communities on global outcomes and global impacts on local communities.

“This kind of strategic outlook, when enabled by emerging technologies, plays strongly into the mission of credit unions, especially for representing the underserved.”

O’Neill addressed the 2021 CUNA Operations & Member Experience Council and CUNA Technology Council Virtual Conference.

This article is part of Tech21, CUNA News’ special focus on innovations and developments in technology. Search for the hashtag #Tech21 to follow the conversation on Twitter.