In an age rife with digital innovation, India has made two meaningful contributions: The number “zero” and Aadhaar. Okay, I cheated a little bit with the first one, given its pre-digital age origins, but let’s not allow petty details to get in the way. Aadhaar is a monumental IT project and a monumental vision for inclusion. Aadhaar, as a concept, lays the very foundation of trust in the digital age. And it does so regardless of caste, Facebook status or creed, across a billion people. Unfortunately, this also means that Aadhaar is a treasure trove of personal data on a billion people; therein lurks a parallel potential for widespread mischief. A journalist writing for The Tribune suggests that, indeed, such mischief can be pulled off rather easily.
Core to the work of The Fletcher School’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, the “Turn?” Series of conference examine regions of the world at a point of inflection. From Africa to Turkey to Greece in the past few years, these events bring together leaders from business, politics, and academia for timely discussions, exploring implications for the world at large and the region on the cusp of “turning.”
This now-standard tallying of the benefits and risks of securitization omits the costs involved in the decline of old-fashioned banking itself. And those costs are quite significant. A financial system that downgrades the role of banks becomes dangerously dependent on nearly blind trust in generic credit scores — a risk still underappreciated even a decade after the financial crisis. The marginalization of traditional banking also discourages lending to small businesses, which are essential to America’s economic dynamism. And it tends to over-centralize the supply of money, and therefore of credit, in ways that distort our economic life.
Instead of applauding the greater “completeness” of anonymous debt markets, we should lament the marginalization of traditional banking. And we should work to reverse it.
Trust in digital technology will be the internet’s next frontier, for 2018 and beyond
After decades of unbridled enthusiasm – bordering on addiction – about all things digital, the public may be losing trust in technology. Online information isn’t reliable, whether it appears in the form of news, search results or user reviews. Social media, in particular, is vulnerable to manipulation by hackers or foreign powers. Personal data isn’t necessarily private. And people are increasingly worried about automation and artificial intelligence taking humans’ jobs.