To successfully deal with the profound challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) need to improve their collaboration. This is the conclusion of a new joint report launched today by the World Economic Forum and ADB.
The report, ASEAN 4.0: What Does the Fourth Industrial Revolution Mean for Regional Economic Integration?, analyses how emerging technologies will reshape South-East Asia, and identifies actions for ASEAN leaders to prepare for the deep transformations that lie ahead. The report acknowledges the many existing national strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as Thailand 4.0 or Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. But it argues that ASEAN must think at the regional level, not the national level.
The treatment of cross-border data flows, for example, is one of the pressing issues highlighted by the report. As data currently are prevented from flowing seamlessly across borders, new technologies such as telemedicine or the internet of things will be limited in their potential.
The report offers seven recommendations for ASEAN leaders to prepare their institutions for the coming challenges associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution:
- The ASEAN Secretariat has to become a “platform organization” that allows for the integration of input from multistakeholder groups of experts.
- The secretariat should delegate more activities to affiliated functional bodies.
- Long-term blueprints should be replaced with three-year rolling plans. Considering the speed of the Fourth Industrial Revolution most forecasts will quickly be outdated. ASEAN must be agile and allow for course correction.
- Ask the people: Democratize and decentralize policy formulation. This will make the ASEAN policy-making process more inclusive, and make ASEAN an organization truly owned and managed by the people for their benefit.
- Establish pan-ASEAN test-beds for new approaches to regulation as a way to nurture multi-country experiments in shaping new technologies.
- Hire staff capable of running a platform model effectively. The staff must be well versed in managing the new Fourth Industrial Revolution tools and have a strong record in this regard.
- Adopt a new funding model to provide more funding for the ASEAN Secretariat’s operation.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is unfolding at tremendous speed. Indeed, the pace of change is accelerating. All over the world, governments are struggling to keep up,” said Justin Wood, Head of Asia Pacific and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum. “The traditional ways of shaping policy, writing regulations and setting standards are too slow, too top-down and too backward-looking. What is needed is an approach that is much faster, more agile, more experimental and more iterative.”
The report was commissioned by the World Economic Forum’s ASEAN Regional Strategy Group (RSG) – made up of 26 ASEAN chief executive officers, government ministers and academics – and written by the Forum and ADB. The RSG presented the study to the 10 ASEAN heads of state during the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila.
“While there is a lot to celebrate on the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, we mustn’t rest on past achievements,” said Nazir Razak, Chairman, CIMB Group Holdings, Malaysia, and Chair of the ASEAN RSG. “This revolution will transform everything, from economic structures to social systems. Many aspects of our lives will improve. But there will also be many worrying challenges, such as how automation and artificial intelligence are replacing jobs. We have to understand these issues and have appropriate policies to address them.”
“Today, the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution appear to be contributing to rising inequality around the world. But this need not be the case,” said Stephen Groff, Vice-President of the ADB. “With prudent fiscal management and appropriate policy, opportunities for lifelong learning and incentives for skills training can be created. And this is especially true for ASEAN. ADB considers the potential impact of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies on jobs in ASEAN a critical area for exploration to support inclusive growth in years ahead.”
UNESCO research on AI’s implications on human rights
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming the veiled decision-maker of our times. AI has profound implications on human rights ranging from freedom of expression, privacy, to right to equality and participation; a human rights based approach must be mainstreamed to guide the development AI through inclusive multi-stakeholder participation,” said UNESCO programme specialist Xianhong Hu, when she spoke at the 40th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council last week.
She was presenting the summary findings of UNESCO’s new report Steering AI for Knowledge Societies: A ROAM Perspective, during the panel discussion on Human Rights in the Era of Artificial Intelligence: Exploring the AI development from UNESCO’s prism of Internet Universality, this report shows these principles are intended for all interested stakeholders and AI development should align with human Rights, Openness, Accessibility and Multi-stakeholder governance.
This ROAM approach can serve to guide the ensemble of values, norms, policies, regulations, codes and ethics that govern the development and use of AI – a theme that was echoed by a number of delegates in the room.
“The complexity of AI calls for an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, global and multi-stakeholder reflection on the opportunities and challenges that come with such advanced ICTs,” stated Abdulaziz Almuzaini, Director of the UNESCO Geneva Liaison Office.
UNESCO’s ROAM framework was highly commended by delegates, professionals and academic representatives present during the panel session. “We appreciate our cooperation with UNESCO. AI is transforming our lives, the use of AI in the exploitation of big data is essential. These are all areas we need to protect human rights,” said Omar Zniber, Permanent Representative of Morocco. H.E. Zniber elaborated that AI-generated content sometimes boosts “fake news” and blurs the lines for accountability of produced content. Moreover, AI’s consequences will be felt strongly the Global South, where the potential for digital divide are stronger.
Further insight was provided by Francois Gave, Deputy Permanent Representative of France, regarding France’s position on AI and technology. Stating that AI has been placed on the G7 agenda, he noted that democracy itself could be at stake in the grander scheme of human rights, because some people do not realise that their information is being gathered and retained. At the level of the European Union, many principles surrounding human rights and data privacy exist. However, he held that “now is the time to take things further and work together.”
Dr. Eileen Donahoe, Executive Director, Stanford Global Digital Policy Incubator, moderated the session and pointed that the implication of AI for human rights are vast and multilayered. She believes the existing universal human rights framework including UNESCO’s ROAM principles, can serve as a primary guide for technologist and for policy-makers to help ensure that AI development is beneficial for humanity.
The UNESCO summary report also reveals that privacy is often infringed when AI involves opaque data collection, de-anonymization, third-party data-sharing, and the tracking and profiling of individuals.
“Increasing Information personalization and content moderation by AI enhance users’ access to information, but at the same time can narrow down the scope of Information and the pluralism of ideas to which they are exposed. Particularly, when Internet intermediaries are pressured to use AI to combat hate speech and disinformation, this can risk removing legitimate content and thus undermine the free flow of information”, stressed UNESCO’s Hu in her presentation.
Vidushi Marda, Legal Scholar from Article 19, stressed that some people may be “forsaken” with the development of AI. She held that the unintended consequences of AI are not being considered as much as they ought to be.
Coining AI as a “trend” word, Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director and Co-Lead of the United Nations Secretary General High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, emphasised that using AI in local scenarios is of utmost importance. In addition to the protection of human rights, “human happiness and appreciation” must also be considered.
UNESCO’s new summary report is about ongoing research and the final publication will elaborate key options for actions for different stakeholders as well as overarching options for shaping the future of AI development. The preliminary brochure is online at https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/unesco-steering_ai_for_knowledge_societies.pdf as well as on UNESCO’s webpage dedicated to Artificial Intelligence https://en.unesco.org/artificial-intelligence.
UN launches ‘South-South Galaxy’ knowledge-sharing platform in Buenos Aires
When countries of the Global South forged an historic technical cooperation deal among themselves 40 years ago, digital technology was a thing of the future, but developing nations have come a long way since then.
China, for example, has managed to send an exploration vehicle to the dark side of the Moon, while India has a satellite orbiting Mars. A new digital tool launched on Tuesday, just ahead of the Second High-level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation, aims to strengthen the ways countries share their technology, to benefit developing countries.
The “South-South Galaxy”, is a global knowledge sharing and partnership platform, officially launched in the city hosting the “BAPA+40” conference – the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires – by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
The project aims to give systematic and effective support to countries of the South so they can connect, learn and collaborate with potential partners in the wider digital world.
“The Galaxy project will place in a single digital space all the great experiences of South-South cooperation”, said Jorge Chediek, Special Envoy of the Secretary General, and Director of the UNOSSC, in an interview with UN News, which will be covering the conference throughout the week. “We are talking about the best cases, the best opportunities to establish contacts and partnerships”, he added.
The project, which was launched on the eve of the conference, seeks to unite existing platforms developed by UN agencies and their partners, allowing all in the South-South cooperation field to access and navigate a wide range of knowledge, solutions, research, and development initiatives.
“I look forward to making it a live database. The key for that is to have a strong institutional commitment of many partners and to develop it in a way that it becomes an useful element where users can find what they need to build a better reality in their countries”, Mr. Chediek explained.
From recipients, to tech pioneers
For the Special Envoy, technology has become essential for developing countries, which are increasingly taking the initiative to innovate in the digital world.
“Traditionally, the countries of the South were the recipients of technology. The productive technology, the information technology, was generated in the North,” said Mr. Chediek. “Currently these countries are creating new technologies and have developed new models of how to use them for the benefit of their societies. In this context, South-South cooperation becomes very important for other developing countries to learn and take advantage of these new tools”, he added.
The Envoy stressed during the event how in 1978, when the Buenos Aires Plan of Action was adopted to promote technical cooperation among developing countries, there was still no notion of what technology will actually represent in the 21st century.
“Who would have thought that after 40 years we would meet in Buenos Aires, at the same time that China has managed to send an exploration vehicle to the dark side of the Moon, and India orbits a satellite on Mars”, Mr. Chediek said.
UNOSSC also launched its new report “South-South Cooperation in a Digital World”, on Tuesday, which further explores and analyzes development prospects and trends affecting and impacting digital industries in the Global South, and puts forward proposals for digital industrial cooperation among Southern countries.
Uruguay hails digital opportunities
The President of Uruguay, Mr. Tabaré Vásquez, echoed the Special Envoy’s words of the Envoy saying the world was going through a torrent of technological changes, changing the development paradigm.
“The economy as we have conceived it until now has a new discipline: the digital economy, which is advancing by leaps and bounds. If we look closely at the Big Data market from 2011 to 2017, it has multiplied by 5, and it is estimated that in the next ten years it will triple”, he said.
“The immense amount of data available, the ability to process and transmit it, opens a wide range of development opportunities. However, the challenge is that these changes benefit the largest number of inhabitants of our planet and reach the entire population, serving the neediest”, Mr. Vásquez added.
Flags fly at BAPA+40
On Tuesday, the United Nations flag was raised next to flag of Argentina at the Convention and Exhibition Center of Buenos Aires, marking the formal opening of BAPA+40. UN Development Programme (UNDP) chief Achim Steiner, was joined by Jorge Chediek, and the Argentine Foreign Minister, Jorge Faurie, at the ceremony.
“South-South Cooperation enables countries to reach their development goals and reduce poverty through mutual assistance and solidarity. The Conference will adopt a crucial roadmap to accelerate the implementation of concrete solutions to achieve the sustainable development agenda”, said the UNDP chief.
“We are not talking about abstract realities. We are talking about practices and exchanges that are oriented to improve the quality of lives”, the Special Envoy told UN News.
More than 1,000 participants and high-level delegations from dozens of countries, will debate the importance of South-South Cooperation as a tool for achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030.
Brexit: Plans in place to mitigate impact of no deal
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the effects will be felt by people and companies across Europe. The EU has adopted measures to mitigate the impact of a disorderly withdrawal.
The EU has repeatedly stressed that it favours an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the Union. It concluded a withdrawal agreement with the UK to ensure the two parties can continue to collaborate on various issues to their mutual benefit, nevertheless the EU has adopted measures to reduce the impact of a possible no-deal Brexit.
These measures cannot replicate the advantages of being part of the EU. They are temporary, unilateral measures. Some will require UK’s reciprocity in order for them to come in force.
Long-term solutions depend on future discussions between the EU and the UK.
See below for the measures preparing the EU for a no-deal Brexit:
UK airlines would be able to provide services to EU countries provided EU companies are also able to do so to the UK.
The validity of rail safety authorisations would be extended to ensure the continuity of rail services between the UK and the EU, provided the UK does the same.
EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU would keep social security benefits acquired before the withdrawal.
Peace process in Northern Ireland
Funding for bilateral peace programmes in Northern Ireland would continue until at least 2020 to help support the peace and reconciliation process started by the Good Friday agreement.
If the UK agrees to full reciprocity of access to fishing waters, an easy procedure is in place for companies to obtain authorisation to fish. Quota swapping would still be allowed until these measures end on 31 December.
If the UK does not agree, EU firms banned from UK waters could be eligible for compensation from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
EU firms will still be able to export certain items used for civilian and military purposes to the UK.
In some areas: no special measures in place
In many areas, no special measures are in place to replace existing relation with the UK in case of a no-deal. This could lead to additional costs and extra paperwork and it would be a good idea to check with relevant authorities of your country or region.
Driving licences issued by one EU country are automatically recognised by other member states. When the UK leaves, this will no longer apply to British licences. EU nationals wishing to drive in the UK will need to check with UK authorities if their licence is valid, while Brits will need to check with the national authorities of each EU country in which they wish to drive. International driving licences are valid across the UK and EU.
The EU pet passport, which allows your pet to travel with you to another EU country, will no longer be valid in the UK. It is likely more paperwork will be needed when taking your pet to or from the UK.
Under EU rules people benefit from access to healthcare during a temporary stay in another member states using the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). These rules will no longer apply to the UK. Both EU nationals travelling to the UK and Brits visiting EU countries should check whether their insurance covers the costs of medical treatment abroad. If not, they should consider taking out private travel insurance.
For additional information about travelling to and from the UK, check out this website from the European Commission.
All of these measures can only come into effect with European Parliament’s approval.
Any agreement reached by the EU and UK – including the withdrawal agreement and any agreement on future relations – must be agreed by the Parliament before it can enter into force.
None of these temporary measures can replace actual agreements. Only once the UK has left the EU, the EU and the UK, as a third country, can look at the future relations and might wish to conclude deals to ensure they can continue to work together on issues ranging from trade to security, migration and defence. The political declaration attached to the withdrawal agreement, if ratified by the UK, gives the general framework on how these relations could look like.
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