The ‘Impact of new technologies and digitalisation on society’ panel was held on 6 October during the 15th Rhodes Forum. The panel was moderated Eva Kaili and Rob van Kranenburg. The panelists were Natalya Kaspersky, Spiros K. Margaris, Vinod Pandey, Wolfgang Pinegger, and Jens Wendland.
Technologies and Digitalisation
Participants discussed the digital economy and new technologies. They debated the role and value of the digital economy in providing strong foundations for dialogue, governance, and commerce, as well as its possible impact on society and human development. The panel addressed the following questions:
- What are the main trends the digital society can be expected to demonstrate in next decade?
- How will accelerating digitalisation impact the future outlook for emerging countries?
- What opportunities could be provided by new technologies and digitalisation for supporting viable alternative to the predominant existing socio-economic model?
- Which economic sectors would benefit most from development in new technologies?
- What are the prospective benefits of digitalisation for personal convenience, public safety, efficiency, and the environment?
- Which tools do policymakers have at hand to ensure that all sections of society benefit from new technologies, to stop further wealth concentration, and to avoid persistent mass unemployment?
- What role should Artificial Intelligence play in the future society?
Rob van Kranenburg presented his reflections on political systems as pragmatic cybernetics. He argued that if data lakes are not owned by systems, where people contribute, using all possible opportunities, and by taxes, these systems will end within the next five years. Whoever exploits these opportunities will have the upper hand in the digitally connected world. Opportunities are tuned to the ability to spot emerging new entities early. The ability to do this is determined by three factors: having data lakes at your disposal; balancing the ratio of power, determining its scale; and merging opponents in an ecosystem.
Spiros Margaris discussed why governments should support their fintech and insurtech industries, and how fintech can help less privileged and unbanked people to benefit from financial services.
Jens Wendland reflected on why and how discourse about digitalisation and globalisation can fundamentally change. The multipolarity of the digital future and indicators for a new agenda for digitalisation were the core themes of his presentation. Wendland noted that geopolitical shifts away from one-sided domination towards multipolar approaches would offer new opportunities.
Wolfgang Pinegger presented ideas on how the internet can help bridge the gap between developed and developing regions, and what will be or could be the consequences. He argued that the internet can be a big help towards local economic development, while this must happen first, and then be followed by regional and global economic connection and development. Pinegger stressed that users of technology in developing areas will not get early enough access to basic needs such as modern devices and payment and logistics services. Thus, new and uniform applications with translation features, along with business solutions for local middlemen, providers and agents, as well as new independent payment, accounting and logistics systems are needed.
Natalya Kaspersky said that digitalisation and new technologies bring not only benefits but also certain threats. Kaspersky addressed the core question of what countries should do to protect their digital future. She expressed doubt that international treaties or global dialogue will stop criminal or governmental abuse of technology, because such bodies are driven by a desire for dominance and supremacy. Kaspersky pointed out that cybersecurity specialists see their task in terms of the education of a mass cybersecurity user-base, and in providing a choice of tools for the development of cyber-sovereignty for countries and governments around the world. It is important to provide a choice of instruments for cyber-defence and digital-sovereignty technologies in the era of cyberwars and global insecurity.
Vinod Pandey spoke about new trends in mobility. His theme was ‘Reimagining mobility’. Pandey explained the new directional shifts in mobility, electric mobility, and shared mobility reference to India.
Participants discussed new technologies and the digital economy, which are able to foster the economic development of both developing and developed countries, by increasing productivity and removing barriers to entry. They argued that without global collaboration and government involvement, the digital economy could aggravate existing social problems and increase the gap between developing and developed regions, and between urban and suburban areas. The benefits of new communication technologies and the digital economy are not equally shared (the so-called digital divide) and are mostly enjoyed by those living in tech-friendly urban areas. In the coming years, this divide could be sharpened, and opportunities to move up the income ladder and improve productivity will be strongly connected with the access and the ability to make good use of digital infrastructure.
Panelists discussed alternative mechanisms where citizens are able to benefit from technological advances offered by the Internet of Things while keeping the ability to control and manage personal data generated by the use of connected objects. This will enable the building of smart regions and zone of dialogue for all citizens, not just for those who can afford certain commercial products. This in turn will lead to positive socio-cultural momentum which will drive the full potential of IoT. These gateways are currently in the hands of Over-The-Top (OTT) players with a closed proprietary approach to networks, platforms, devices, and database handling and storage.
Participants suggested that gateways should be in public hands to build smart regions for all its citizens and claimed that the key to successful leadership is having access to the highest level of granularity of data within all the networks. Participants recommended the following actions:
- Investigate the role and value of the digital economy in providing strong foundations for dialogue, governance, and commerce, as well as its impact on society and human development.
- Intervene in processes of ‘datafication’ and employ modes of collaborative data tools and narratives of representation as modes of increasing effective civic governance, individual and collective agency, and the ability of all people to speak and be heard on matters of importance to them.
- Develop a viable business ecology and foster an open-source ecosystem of practice around all code and products that partners collectively build.
- Remove the barrier of geoblocking to foster innovative digitalisation trends beyond borders. Build a new trust movement on the internet.
- Research a code of ethics and common rules for artificial intelligence to protect humanity from negative scenarios.
- Create a new science media hub for research into potential threats of the the Internet of Value and the Internet of Things (e.g., a right to be forgotten)
- Tokenise value through digital currencies (ICO) – allow everybody to invest in new ideas, and prevent speculation and fraud.
- All parties involved in contemporary analytics should bring in alternatives based on cybernetic perspectives (machine/deep learning, AI) into the heart of decision-making.
- More transparency is needed in supply chains and economies. Successful development should be based on new and alternative data-based approaches to the emerging realities of the new technologies world.
- Support financial technology (start-ups etc.) to create better, simpler, cheaper, and more innovative services. Provide unbanked and underbanked people simple banking opportunities via financial technology and insurance technology.
- Basic objectives should have common denominators: securing medical care; participation in education; development of greater mobility; or the creation of meaningful work that will inevitably advance through artificial intelligence.
- Cryptocurrencies will become an issue very quickly, and logistics systems via blockchain will be the last mile logistic. There is a need for a basic and uniform application, which everybody can use: a system through which all participants have their own platform; a system to be used by local agents; and a system in which middle men and other people earn money from what they do for the system. For this the application of smart blockchain technologies is needed to allow them to grow markets locally and to outgrow this market. A multi-level marketing system is needed, where the agencies and middle men can benefit.
- Logistical financial infrastructure is needed in order to realise the possibilities of the online world and different online solutions are required to fulfill the needs of developing regions, which are very different from those of already developed areas.
- Technical infrastructure in developing areas needs governmental support, as the market will simply not deliver the necessary investment. Then, logistical and financial infrastructure will follow, once regional markets become accessible and grow into more developed areas.
- Online solutions matching local needs are key for progress in developing countries as any native business will start locally and expand to the outside world from there.
- Developments in the BRICS economies should be assessed in order to understand the potential of their digital infrastructure. Socially deficient emerging markets, or new big players in the global economy like China, could bundle their growing economic potential for a common strategy of global digitalisation. Emerging markets such as India can also compensate for their rapid economic growth by developing digital infrastructure.
- Use and protect personal data in legitimate and proper ways. Cybersecurity specialists should educate mass users in cybersecurity, and provide a choice of tools for development of tailored cyber-sovereignty for countries and governments around the world. It is important to provide a choice of instruments for cyber-defense and digital sovereignty technologies in the era of cyberwars and global insecurity.
- Start a discussion on how the politics of installation needs to be initiated, facilitated, and led in order to manage transition from political 19th Century democracy to pragmatic cybernetics in which machine learning, the Internet of Things, and data granularity in public hands forms the basis of a new, hybrid, polis tuned in to the reality of our times.
Picture credit: Austin Public Library/Flickr https://bit.ly/2JFwNtc