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Teaching Digital Dividends

MD Staff

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As the digital revolution unfolds, how can awareness for the opportunities digital technology offers increase? How can basic information on digital features, and ways to reap digital dividends be shared globally, reaching a large number of interested policy makers, experts, and future entrepreneurs?

To foster a large uptake of information on digital technologies and the opportunities offered by digital development, DDP supported the development of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). This course, named Digital Dividends and hosted through the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus (OLC), is based on the World Development Report 2016. In its initial cycle from November to December 2017, it has been made available to more than 3,000 people from 147 countries.

“There is a sense of urgency – our world is rapidly digitizing and policy makers are falling behind in creating a set of smart policies conducive to reap digital dividends,” said Samia Melhem, Lead ICT Policy Specialist at the Bank and a moderator of the MOOC. “There are known good practices on digital development that can be adapted and re-used by policy leaders, education leaders, private sector and industry,” she explained, “and the MOOC raises awareness and provides knowledge on what needs to be done”.

Policies to Make Digital Technologies Work for Development

The MOOC features an ambitious and comprehensive program on digital technologies and some of the key development variables.

  • Week One – “How the Internet Promoted Development?” – kicks off the course with a look at the economic and social impacts of the digital revolution, addressing matters of productivity, inequality and liberty.
  • Week Two – “Accelerating Growth: More Trade, Higher Productivity and Greater Competition” – looks at how digital technology can reduce transaction costs by allowing firms to enter new markets, enhance efficiency and exploit economies of scale.
  • Week Three – “Expanding Opportunities: Creating Jobs and Boosting Labor Productivity” – examines new opportunities and risks that digital technologies provide for employment and earnings.
  • Week Four – “Delivering Services: Connecting for a Capable and Accountable Government” – focuses on how digitalization can both make governments more effective and empower citizens.
  • “Policy Implications: Making the Internet Universal, Affordable and Safe” – is the topic in Week Five, examining the next generation policies for improving connectivity around the world and strengthening cybersecurity, of vital importance as more and more information is shared online.
  • The course’s sixth and final week – “National Priorities: Making the Internet Work for Everyone” underscores the need for governments to emphasize digital technology in their national development plans.

Debate and Discussion

In its first cycle, the interactive sections of the course were a constant source of vigorous inquiry. “Why is improving digital connectivity not sufficient to realize full development benefits? How can digital literacy be enhanced, as a skill to realizing the benefits of digital development?” were just some of the questions participants raised.

The lively discussions helped increase the understanding for digital technologies, and the opportunities for low- and middle-income countries to leverage them to leapfrog into a digital future. As Tim Kelly, Lead ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank and a co-author of the World Development Report 2016 pointed out, “one of the reasons for creating the MOOC was to enable a wider number of people to participate in the consultation and dissemination process, and to test out the recommendations it offers to stakeholders.”

“The World Bank Group is looking at disruptive technologies for development and this MOOC is a prime example,” said Sheila Jagannathan, Lead Learning Specialist at the Open Learning Campus at the World Bank. “MOOCs bridge a vital gap between the vast body of knowledge created by well researched publications from the World Bank Group and the kinds of accessible learning that many global citizens are interested in acquiring.”

For more information on the MOOC Digital Dividends, please visit: https://www.edx.org/course/digital-dividends-strengthening-analog-wbgx-wdr01x

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Quantum Technologies Flagship kicks off with first 20 projects

MD Staff

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The Quantum Technologies Flagship, a €1 billion initiative, was launched today at a high-level event in Vienna hosted by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The Flagship will fund over 5,000 of Europe’s leading quantum technologies researchers over the next ten years and aims to place Europe at the forefront of the second quantum revolution. Its long term vision is to develop in Europe a so-called quantum web, where quantum computers, simulators and sensors are interconnected via quantum communication networks. This will help kick-starting a competitive European quantum industry making research results available as commercial applications and disruptive technologies. The Flagship will initially fund 20 projects with a total of €132 million via the Horizon 2020 programme, and from 2021 onwards it is expected to fund a further 130 projects. Its total budget is expected to reach €1 billion, providing funding for the entire quantum value chain in Europe, from basic research to industrialisation, and bringing together researchers and the quantum technologies industry.

Andrus Ansip, Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “Europe is determined to lead the development of quantum technologies worldwide. The Quantum Technologies Flagship project is part of our ambition to consolidate and expand Europe’s scientificexcellence. If we want to unlock the full potential of quantum technologies, we need to develop a solid industrial base making full use of our research.”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, added: “The Quantum Technologies Flagship will form a cornerstone of Europe’s strategy to lead in the development of quantum technologies in the future.  Quantum computing holds the promise of increasing computing speeds by orders of magnitude and Europe needs to pool its efforts in the ongoing race towards the first functional quantum computers.”

In the early 20th century, the first quantum revolution allowed scientists to understand and use basic quantum effects in devices, such as transistors and microprocessors, by manipulating and sensing individual particles.

The second quantum revolution will make it possible to use quantum effects to make major technological advances in many areas including computing, sensing and metrology, simulations, cryptography, and telecommunications. Benefits for citizens will ultimately include ultra-precise sensors for use in medicine, quantum-based communications, and Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) to improve the security of digital data. In the long term, quantum computing has the potential to solve computational problems that would take current supercomputers longer than the age of the universe. They will also be able to recognise patterns and train artificial intelligence systems.

Next steps

From October 2018 until September 2021, 20 projects will be funded by the Flagship under the coordination of the Commission. They will focus on four application areas – quantum communication, quantum computing, quantum simulation, quantum metrology and sensing – as well as the basic science behind quantum technologies. More than one third of participants are industrial companies from a wide range of sectors, with a large share of SMEs.

Negotiations are ongoing between the European Parliament, Council and Commission to ensure that quantum research and development will be funded in the EU’s multi-annual financial framework for 2021-2028. Quantum technologies will be supported by the proposed Horizon Europe programme for research and space applications, as well as the proposed Digital Europe programme, which will develop and reinforce Europe’s strategic digital capacities, supporting the development of Europe’s first quantum computers and their integration with classical supercomputers, and of a pan-European quantum communication infrastructure.

Background

Since 1998, the Commission’s Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme has provided around €550 million of funding for quantum research in Europe. The EU has also funded research on quantum technologies through the European Research Council (ERC). Only since 2007, the ERC has funded more than 250 research projects related to quantum technologies, worth some 450 million euro.

The Quantum Technologies Flagship is currently supported by Horizon 2020 as part of the FET programme, which currently runs two other Flagships (The Graphene Flagship and the Human Brain Project Flagship). The FET programme promotes large-scale research initiatives to drive major scientific advances and turn them into tangible innovations creating benefits for the economy and society across Europe. Funding for the Flagship project comes from Horizon 2020, its successor programme Horizon Europe and national funding.

The Quantum Technologies Flagship is also a component of the Commission’s European Cloud Initiative launched in April 2016, as part of a series of measures to support and link national initiatives for the digitisation of Europe’s industry.

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Russiagate and the current challenges of cyberspace: Interview with Elena Chernenko

MD Staff

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PICREADI presents an interview with a prominent Russian expert in journalism and cybersecurity Elena Chernenko, Deputy head of Foreign Desk at the Kommersant daily newspaper in Moscow. The talk is about hackers, Russiagate and current challenges of the cyberspace.

 

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Asia Needs a Region-Wide Approach to Harness Fintech’s Full Potential

MD Staff

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The importance of a region-wide approach to harness the potentials of fintech was emphasized at the High-Level Policy Dialogue: Regional Cooperation to Support Innovation, Inclusion and Stability in Asia on 11 October in Bali, Indonesia. Photo: ADB

Asia’s policy makers should strengthen cooperation to harness the potential of new financial technologies for inclusive growth. At the same time, they should work together to ensure they can respond better to the challenges posed by fintech.

New technologies such as mobile banking, big data, and peer-to-peer transfer networks are already extending the reach of financial services to those who were previously unbanked or out of reach, boosting incomes and living standards. Yet, fintech also comes with the risk of cyber fraud, data security, and privacy breaches. Disintermediation of fintech services or concentration of services among a few providers could also pose a risk to financial stability.

These and other issues were discussed at the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Regional Cooperation to Support Innovation, Inclusion, and Stability in Asia, organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Bank Indonesia, and the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

The panel comprised Ms. Neav Chanthana, Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia; Mr. Diwa Guinigundo, Deputy Governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; Ms. Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and Chief Executive Officer of Women’s World Banking; Mr. Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President of ADB; Mr. Abdul Rasheed, Deputy Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia, and Mr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, Governor of the Bank of Thailand. Mr. Mirza Adityaswara, Senior Deputy Governor of Bank Indonesia, gave the opening remarks at the conference and Ms. Junhong Chang, Director of AMRO, gave the welcome remarks.

“Rapidly spreading new financial technologies hold huge promise for financial inclusion,” said Mr. Nakao. “We must foster an enabling environment for the technologies to flourish and strengthen regional cooperation to build harmonized regulatory standards and surveillance systems to prevent international money laundering, terrorism financing, and cybercrimes.”

“Technology is an enabler that weaves our economies and financial systems together, transmitting benefits but also risks across borders,” said Ms. Chang. “Given East Asia’s rapid economic growth, understanding and managing the impact of technology in our financial systems is essential for policymakers to maintain financial stability.”

“Asia, including Indonesia, is an ideal place for fintech to flourish,” said Mr. Adityaswara. “In Indonesia’s case, there are more than a quarter of a billion people living on thousand of islands, waiting to be integrated with the new technology; young people eager to enter the future digital world; more than fifty million small and medium-sized enterprises which can’t wait to get on board with e-commerce; a new society driven by a dynamic, democratic middle class which views the digital economy as something as inevitable as evolution.”

Despite Asia’s high economic growth in recent years, the financial sector is still under-developed in some countries. Fewer than 27% of adults in developing Asia have a bank account, well below the global median of 38%. Meanwhile, just 84% of firms have a checking or savings account, on a par with Africa but below Latin America’s 89% and emerging Europe’s 92%.

Financial inclusion could be increased through policies to promote financial innovation, by boosting financial literacy, and by expanding and upgrading digital infrastructure and networks. Regulations to prevent illegal activities, enhance cyber security, and protect consumers’ rights and privacy, would also build confidence in new financial technologies.

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