In many parts of the world where technology is an integral part of daily life, enthusiasm for its benefits is rapidly giving way to concerns about its risks. Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean of Global Business at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, explores this complicated relationship.
“Learning to code … gives kids a powerful boost in other core subjects” – Grant Hosford, CEO, Codespark
Fletcher alumnus Grant Hosford is up to some amazing things as CEO of Codespark. Leaning on a basis of coding, Grant hopes to bring both real world computer science skills and a growth mindset to childhood education. “Coding requires students to learn transferable skills like pattern recognition and sequencing that are foundational for reading and math. So, learning to code with a visual app like ours gives kids a powerful boost in other core subjects,” he told Forbes. Through his work with Codespark, Grant is helping to build a foundation for the next generation in this increasingly digital planet.
Associate Director of Research and Doctoral Research Fellow for Innovation and Change, Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi speaks on the latest Digital Planet Smart Societies research at Digital Nations 2030 in New Zealand.
Recent studies out of the IBGC on the Digital Planet have highlighted how the adoption of digital technologies are impacting countries’ economies, competitiveness, their building of “smart societies,” and the building – as well as the undermining – of trust. Another area where the digital evolution is having a profound impact is Global Health – particularly in mHealth (mobile health) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Driven by the increasing penetration of mobile, access to healthcare training and services in even the poorest and most remote areas of the planet is being transformed.
The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development released a report (2/17) on the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) on global access to healthcare. The graph below shows the growth of broadband access between 2007–2016.
However, several other findings, listed below, are even more interesting.
One Misstep Too Many: Facebook has Egg on its Face Again, and This Time it Might Stick
Zuckerberg has confidently promised to fix Facebook, but it will be far from easy. The ultimate social network is a victim of its own success and eye-watering revenues. When Facebook’s 2 billion users around the planet log in every month and share or swipe past some slice of the human condition as offered up by friends, family and others, the users and their contexts are bound to vary widely. To get a sense of the spread of contexts that Facebook must straddle, consider the two most important markets for the company: India, which has the largest number of Facebook users and is among its fastest-growing markets; the home market of the US. Now, add Brazil and Indonesia as the next two markets behind these two dominant ones. To manage a social network spanning this much disparity of socio-political contexts and levels of digital trust would call for Zuckerberg to re-enroll at Harvard and get a degree in what I might call “digital anthropology.”
Company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to win back users’ trust. But his company’s efforts so far have ignored the root causes of the problems they intend to fix, and even risk making matters worse. Specifically, they ignore the fact that personal interaction isn’t always meaningful or benign, leave out the needs of users in the developing world, and seem to compete with the company’s own business model.
The year 2018 is barely underway and, already, digital trust initiatives have captured headlines. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has said his platform will de-prioritize third-party publisher content to keep users focused on more “meaningful” posts from family and friends. Google has led off the new year by blocking websites that mask their country of origin from showing up on Google News. And the European Union’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will affect every organization around the world that handles personal data for EU residents. The regulations will also, no doubt, inform data protection laws and corporate trust-building strategies elsewhere.
Even China’s opaque behemoths have started the year with unprecedented acknowledgements of the need to address trust concerns: Tencent had to publicly deny that it collects user WeChat history after it was openly challenged; Alibaba’s Ant Financial apologized to users of its mobile-payment service for automatically enrolling them in its social-credit scoring service.
What these stories underscore is that our digital evolution and our productive use of new technologies rests on how well we can build digital trust. But is it possible to measure digital trust and compare it across countries? Are there countries where guaranteeing trust is a more urgent priority and will draw a larger share of trust-building resources and regulations? The Fletcher School at Tufts University and Mastercard have a launched a research initiative to address these questions by studying the state of digital trust across 42 countries. Here are some of our initial findings, drawn from the study, “Digital Planet 2017: How Competitiveness and Trust in Digital Economies Vary Across the World.”
Digital Solutions Can Help Even the Poorest Nations Prosper
Fast economic growth is the best way to reduce poverty. A recent Tufts University study found that digitization is one of the biggest drivers of a nation’s economic success. The report argues that that economic growth is mostly achieved by careful policy-setting—in other words, it’s best driven by government.
Of 60 countries the report measured, Bangladesh received the lowest score for its digital technologies. But the south Asian nation has no intention of staying in last place: It is in eighth place in the world for the pace of its technological advancement. That’s because of an ambitious approach to the digital economy.
“We identified many hot spots around the world where these changes are happening rapidly and other spots where momentum has slowed,” the authors of the Digital Evolution Index said. “Two years on, depending on where we live, we continue to move at different speeds toward the digital planet.”