By 2025, the fifth generation (5G) of mobile telephony technology will be rolled out in 110 countries, bringing unprecedented benefits for consumers, businesses and society, Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman and Rotating Chairman of Huawei Technologies, told participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which opened today in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.
In Globalization 4.0, “I believe there will be more focus from business benefit to social value,” Hu said, citing the potential of technology to make life better for people living with disability, provide more widespread access to banking services, and grow food for the expanding population. “The World Economic Forum is a great platform to explore the social value it can bring to us,” he said, adding, “[The] social value we can create should be part of the key considerations for business.”
Evolving technologies will resolve the productivity paradox, said Rajiv Suri, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nokia Corporation. Citing the example of the United States, where the digital economy has enhanced productivity by 2.7% per annum while the physical economy has grown by less than 1%, he surmised that the “tipping point” for the US will be the year 2028. Four sectors – health, transport, energy and manufacturing, which are underpinned by digital networks – will unleash this wave of productivity.
Yet, the rapid advance of technology is accompanied by a widespread erosion of trust among citizens, who should be the beneficiaries of digital technology. Eileen Donahoe, Executive Director, Global Digital Policy Incubator, said there is also an erosion of confidence among governments that as technology advances and gets applied in various uses, it is possible to simultaneously protect public good and national security while advancing economic growth.
This is why Globalization 4.0 needs to be much more human-centric. “Customer- and citizen-centricity is imperative,” agreed Alfred F. Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of Visa, adding that for the first time in history, the size of the middle class is larger than the number of people in poverty, creating never-before possibilities for financial inclusion. “Financial inclusion comes after financial literacy,” Kelly said. “For this, education is necessary.”
Businesses and governments must invest in reskilling the workforce to address anxiety over impending job losses, said Abidali Neemuchwala, Chief Executive Officer of Wipro, adding that businesses must also improve their ability to assimilate cultures. To this end, his company is recruiting locally everywhere in the world, hiring as many people in the US, for instance, as it typically hires in India.
Rebuilding trust has to be a collaborative effort by business and government, the panellists agreed. A coalition of government and business to develop good privacy and cybersecurity policies that can be applied across countries would be a defining moment, Suri said, adding that it is important to spread awareness of the benefits of Globalization 4.0 and 5G technology.
Calling for a joint effort among businesses to help governments understand the nature of business, Hu pointed out that current globalization is the result of competition and cooperation based on comparative advantage. Further, the business community must join the process of defining Globalization 4.0 lest distrust negatively affect more and more industries and businesses, he said.
In response to a question about the role of energy in the ongoing digital transformation – the IT world today uses nearly 10% of the total electricity produced globally, and in 10 years will use 20%-30% – Kelly said Visa aims to use 100% renewable energy in all its data centres. This, he said, is the best option for the world and the best option for the company’s costs, and also matches its sense of purpose, which is “a natural part of how we do business.” Kelly also called for greater gender equity in business.
In answer to another question about whether a universal basic income could resolve the oncoming problem of technology-induced joblessness, Donahue said that, although there is no argument against meeting people’s basic needs, a universal basic income would not address the need for meaning that work provides in people’s lives, nor would it alleviate the sense of disenfranchisement in the minds of those left behind.
In view of the ongoing tensions between the US and China, fuelled partly by rivalry over technological prowess, Donahoe said that, although at times global cooperation may seem elusive, it is important to remember that “we don’t need new values, we need a new architecture” – one that will protect the core values of liberty, equality and democratic process.
Can big data help protect the planet?
How do we get to a more sustainable and inclusive future if we don’t know where we are? This is where data comes in and, right now, we do not have the data we need.
These were some of the questions asked at the Third Global Session of the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum held during the UN Environment Assembly. The virtual discussion delved into the role of big data and frontier tech in the transition to a sustainable future.
Opening the session, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen said science needed to be digitized so it could be more democratic and accessible. She said digital transformation is central to UNEP’s new Medium-Term Strategy.
“Big data and new tech can support real-time monitoring of the environment, help consumers adopt more sustainable behaviour, and create sustainable value chains,” she said. “The [UN] Secretary-General has made it very clear that digital transformation has to be part and parcel of the UN … we have oceans of data but drops of information.”
At the event, participants stressed that knowledge obtained through the latest digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and the Internet of Things could speed up progress on environmental goals. Better data could inform interventions and investment, while boosting results and impact measurement.
Bridging the data divide
The data deficit is also hindering the world’s ability to respond to climate change.
Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, said earth observation systems and early warning services were still poor in parts of the world, with around US$ 400 million needed to improve these.
“That is one of the ways to adapt to climate change – to invest in early warning services and observation systems. We have to monitor what is happening to the climate but this monitoring is in poor shape,” he said.
Making the right technology available to developing countries not only presents a financing challenge, but also underlines the profound need for accessible, open-source technology.
Munir Akram, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, said bridging the digital divide is critical. He noted that connectivity was only around 17 per cent in the poorest countries compared to above 80 per cent in richer countries.
“We need to build a database for all the open source technologies that are available in the world and could be applied to build greener and more sustainable structures of production and consumption. These technologies are available but there is no composite database to access them,” he said.
UNEP’s digital transformation
UNEP’s commitment to harnessing technology for environmental action begins ‘at home.’ At the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly in 2019, Member States called for a Big Data Strategy for UNEP by 2025.
The organisation is currently undertaking a digital transformation process, while also focusing on four key challenges:
- Help producers measure and disclose the environmental and climate performance of their products and supply chains;
- Help investors assess climate and environmental risks and align global capital flows to climate goals;
- Enable regulators to monitor real-time progress and risks;
- Integrate this data into the digital economy to shape incentives, feedback loops and behaviours.
- Indispensable tools
- Other cutting-edge digital transformation initiatives are also in progress. UNEP’s World Environment Situation Room, a platform put together by a consortium of Big Data partners in 2019, includes geo-referenced, remote-sensing and earth observation information and collates climate data in near real-time.
- At the event, Juliet Kabera, Director General of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority, described how her country had invested heavily in technology, including connectivity, drones and online platforms, such as the citizen e-service portal, Irembo.
- “There is no doubt that technology has a critical role in addressing the urgent challenges we all face today, regardless of where we are in the world,” Kabera said. “The COVID-19 pandemic once again reminded us that science and technology remain indispensable tools for humanity at large.”
Women and girls belong in science
Closed labs and increased care responsibilities are just a two of the challenges women in scientific fields are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN chief said in his message for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, on Thursday.
“Advancing gender equality in science and technology is essential for building a better future”, Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “We have seen this yet again in the fight against COVID-19”.
Women, who represent 70 per cent of all healthcare workers, have been among those most affected by the pandemic and those leading the response to it. Yet, as women bear the brunt of school closures and working from home, gender inequalities have increased dramatically over the past year.
Woman’s place is in the lab
Citing the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) he said that women account for only one third of the world’s researchers and hold fewer senior positions than men at top universities, which has led to “a lower publication rate, less visibility, less recognition and, critically, less funding”.
Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning replicate existing biases.
“Women and girls belong in science”, stressed the Secretary-General.
Yet stereotypes have steered them away from science-related fields.
Diversity fosters innovation
The UN chief underscored the need to recognize that “greater diversity fosters greater innovation”.
“Without more women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], the world will continue to be designed by and for men, and the potential of girls and women will remain untapped”, he spelled out.
Their presence is also critical in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to close gender pay gaps and boost women’s earnings by $299 billion over the next ten years, according to Mr. Guterres.
“STEM skills are also crucial in closing the global Internet user gap”, he said, urging everyone to “end gender discrimination, and ensure that all women and girls fulfill their potential and are an integral part in building a better world for all”.
‘A place in science’
Meanwhile, despite a shortage of skills in most of the technological fields driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women still account for only 28 per cent of engineering graduates and 40 per cent of graduates in computer science and informatics, according to UNESCO.
It argues the need for women to be a part of the digital economy to “prevent Industry 4.0 from perpetuating traditional gender biases”.
UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay observed that “even today, in the 21st century, women and girls are being sidelined in science-related fields due to their gender”.
As the impact of AI on societal priorities continues to grow, the underrepresentation of women’s contribution to research and development means that their needs and perspectives are likely to be overlooked in the design of products that impact our daily lives, such as smartphone applications.
“Women need to know that they have a place in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and that they have a right to share in scientific progress”, said Ms. Azoulay.
‘Pathway’ to equality
Commemorating the day at a dedicated event, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir informed that he is working with a newly established Gender Advisory Board to mainstream gender throughout all of the UN’s work, including the field of science.
“We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to derail our plans for equality”, he said, adding that increasing access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, for women and girls has emerged as “a pathway to gender equality and as a key objective of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
Mr. Volkan highlighted the need to accelerate efforts and invest in training for girls to “learn and excel in science”.
“From the laboratory to the boardroom, Twitter to television, we must amplify the voices of female scientists”, he stressed.
Meanwhile, UNESCO and the L’Oréal Foundation honoured five women researchers in the fields of astrophysics, mathematics, chemistry and informatics as part of the 23rd International Prize for Women in Science.
In its newly published global study on gender equality in scientific research, To be smart, the digital revolution will need to be inclusive, UNESCO shows that although the number of women in scientific research has risen to one in three, they remain a minority in mathematics, computer science, engineering and artificial intelligence.
“It is not enough to attract women to a scientific or technological discipline”, said Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Natural Sciences.
“We must also know how to retain them, ensuring that their careers are not strewn with obstacles and that their achievements are recognized and supported by the international scientific community”.
Importance of information technology and digital marketing in Today’s world
In the current times, to cope up with the demands of the changing world, we need to adopt digital and modern platforms. With the world rapidly growing towards digitalization and investing in information technology, our state is also going for unconventional means for carrying out different tasks in a more appropriate and time saving manner.
Firstly, we can take an example of online shopping. Many international and local brands have their online stores. Customers can order anything from any part of the world without traveling from one place to another. This initiative has contributed towards time saving and efficient use of technology. One can get whatever they want at their doorstep without any hustle of the traffic. This initiative has boosted the business as there are walk in customers as well as online. This initiative has also attracted a large number of audience due to ease and convenience in shopping. This phenomenon comes under the digitalization process. We should not forget the significance of internet in this regard as it was the first step towards digitalization. All the communication and digital platforms we are using are accessible to us due to internet.
Another aspect of information technology is combating the communication gap between states and its masses. Today, there are many applications like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, messenger etc. through which one can communicate with his/her friends, relatives without being physically present there.
We have websites of different organizations as well as educational institutions through which we can get the information of that specific organization. Like, when we are registered with an organization, all our data is stored on its official page and accessible to specific persons. Same is the case with students that their educational record is held by university and when they are registered with their institutions, they can receive any updates or any new events or job opening through emails and messages.
The Covid-19 factor cannot be ignored in this regard. Due to the rise in Corona cases, jobs have been shifted from physical to online. Work-from-home is the new normal. All this is happening due to the digitalization process. It would not be wrong to say that the progress in information technology and digital platforms has made the life easier for the people.
Another prominent component is the online banking. Through this people can easily do transactions through their phones or PC’s by logging in to their bank accounts while sitting at their home and can access it any time. Bills can be paid through it. This is definitely a sigh of relief for the people who are tired of standing in the long queue outside banks to submit their bills or complexities while going to banks and doing transactions over there. This facility has also minimized the time wasted in traffic jams and standing in queue for long hours while going to banks. This time could be used for other productive tasks.
Online registration of cars in Islamabad initiated during the COVID-19 is another wonder of digitalization process. Islamabad administration has made it easier for its people to register their cars while sitting at their homes without the fear of being infected. Food delivery systems should also be appreciated for their smart work. There are apps like food panda, cheetah etc. through which people can order their desired food through a call. Many food chains offer home deliveries that has made the lives of the people much convenient.
The much-appreciated step by the government is producing Pakistan made ventilators and stents in the view of the rapidly increasing Corona cases. This was possible due to appropriate scientific and technological knowledge. The government has also said that soon we will be seeing Pakistan made chargeable vehicles on the roads. They will prove to be economical and fuel saving; they will be easy to handle and have human friendly interface.
Developments in Nadra is another milestone as now everything is computerized, there is no paperwork required and all the records are saved in computers. Recently, our interior minister has said that Nadra will now exempt the cost of making identity cards and the card will be provided to the person after 15 days as previously it to took more time to give the card to the concerned person. Removing check posts in the capital and substituting them with other efficient measures like cameras, drones is another achievement. Another recent development in the line of digitalization that cannot be ignored is inauguration of online system by the Islamabad traffic Police through which people can get their license and other paperwork can be done through the online portal.
It can be concluded that we are gradually moving from traditional ways of working towards a digitalized era. However, there is still a room for improvement, the good thing is that people are understanding the importance of the digitalization process by gradually accepting it but further awareness through innovative campaigns does not bring any bad. An interesting take pertinent to advanced digitalization and technological growth is that it had definitely made people to completely rely on digital processes and solutions that now people have to opt for these advanced strategies in any case, whether they are comfortable with or not. Obviously, good things take time and using digital resources for fruitful purposes is not a bad idea at all; unless and until resources are not wasted.
‘Industry 4.0’ tech for post-COVID world, is driving inequality
Developing countries must embrace ground-breaking technologies that have been a critical tool in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, or else face...
Gugu Mbatha-Raw named latest UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
British actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw was on Wednesday appointed a global Goodwill Ambassador with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Ms. Mbatha-Raw highlighted the...
Huge blast on the Afghanistan-Iran border
On Saturday 13 February the Islam Qala reception center owned by the IOM was demolished at the border between Afghanistan...
Overcoming The Tragedy of Plural Mother Tongue Denial in America
Sunday morning , February 21, I was in the Bangladesh High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius.Google reminds us”Bangladesh, to the...
UNIDO works to scale up the ICT start-up ecosystem in Iran
Together with its national counterparts from the Information Technology Organization of Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies and in...
Laws Still Restrict Women’s Economic Opportunities Despite Progress
Countries are inching toward greater gender equality, but women around the world continue to face laws and regulations that restrict...
Explainer: New EU strategy on adaptation to climate change
1. What is the objective of the new EU Adaptation Strategy? The Strategy outlines a long-term vision for the EU...
International Law3 days ago
How nations states are limited
Africa3 days ago
Russia offers 300 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine to Africa
Americas3 days ago
The World Should Get Rid of “Trump Inertia”
Africa3 days ago
African problems require African solutions
Defense2 days ago
The world arms sales market
Diplomacy2 days ago
China-India Vaccine Diplomacy – Will Pakistan Learn From Neighbors?
Economy2 days ago
Capitalism and the Fabrication of Food Insecurity
Europe3 days ago
France’s Controversial ‘Separatism’ Bill