THE World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report recently which highlights that building a digital economy and society that is trusted, inclusive and sustainable requires urgent attention in six priority areas, namely – internet access and adoption, good digital identity, positive impact on society, cyber security, governance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and data.
A WEF press release explained that the report, entitled Our Shared Digital Future, represents a collaborative effort by business, government and civil society leaders, experts and practitioners.
It was shared that more than one-half of the world’s population is now connected to the internet and, at the same time, less than one-half of those already online trust that technology will make their lives better.
“With 60 per cent of the global economy forecast to be digitised by 2022, there remains huge potential for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to lift more people out of poverty and strengthen societies and communities,” states the press release.
“However, success depends on effective collaboration between all stakeholder groups. The authors, in addition to unveiling six key areas for action, also highlight several existing efforts at global and local levels where collaboration is helping to restore trust and deliver broad-based societal benefits.”
Six priority areas
The press release explained the six priority areas for multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Under ‘internet access and adoption’, it was stated that internet access growth has slowed from 19 per cent in 2007 to six per cent last year.
“At the same time, we have reached the milestone of 50 per cent of the world’s population being connected to the internet. To close the digital divide, more investment is needed to not only provide access, but also improve adoption,” shared the WEF.
Next is ‘good digital identity’, under which it was shared that by 2020, the average internet user will have more than 200 online accounts and by 2022, 150 million people are forecast to have blockchain-based digital identities.
It was added, however, that one billion people currently lack a formal identity, which excludes them from the growing digital economy. The press release highlights that good digital identity solutions are key to addressing this divide, empowering individuals, and protecting their rights in society.
Under the priority area of ‘positive impact on society’, it was stated that by 2022, an estimated 60 per cent of global GDP will be digitised.
“In 2018, companies are expected to spend more than $1.2 trillion on digital transformation efforts. Yet, only 45 per cent of the world’s population feel that technology will improve their lives. Companies need to navigate digital disruption and develop new responsible business models and practices,” added the press release.
For ‘cyber security’, the press release noted that cyber-attacks result in annual losses of up to $400 billion to the global economy. “More than 4.5 billion records were compromised by malicious actors in the first half of 2018, up from 2.7 billion records for the whole of 2017. A safe and secure digital environment requires global norms and practices to mitigate cyber risks.”
The fifth priority area mentioned is ‘governance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, where it is stated that policy makers and traditional governance models are being challenged by the sheer magnitude and speed of the technological changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Developing new and participatory governance mechanisms to complement traditional policy and regulation is essential to ensure widespread benefits, close the digital divide and address the global nature of these developments.”
‘Data’ is the sixth and final priority area, under which it was shared that the amount of data that keeps the digital economy flowing is growing exponentially.
“By 2020, there will be more than 20 billion connected devices globally,” stated the press release. “Yet there is no consensus on whether data is a type of new currency for companies to trade or a common public good that needs stricter rules and protection. The digital economy and society must bridge this gap by developing innovations that allow society to benefit from data while protecting privacy, innovation and criminal justice.”
The press release explained that the report is part of ongoing work by the WEF to provide a platform to accelerate, amplify or catalyse collaborative efforts from business, government, academia and civil society to advance progress towards an inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable digital economy.
It added that the report provides an overview of key issues for the digital economy and society, establishes priorities for multi-stakeholder collaboration for the year ahead, and highlights existing key initiatives and resources. BORNEO BULLETIN/ANN