Статья «Digital technologies: hype and revolution / Цифровые технологии: хайп и революция»

Преподаватели ИОМ РАНХиГС Олег Гуров и Юлия Белохина Белохина подготовили статью «Digital technologies: hype and revolution / Цифровые технологии: хайп и революция» для сборника докладов XIV международной студенческой научно-практической конференции «Управляя будущим. 2020+1: устанавливаем новые правила / Managing the Future. 2020+1: Defining the New Rules», организованной Институтом отраслевого менеджмента РАНХиГС.

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Гуров О.Н., Белохина Ю.С. Digital technologies: hype and revolution / Цифровые технологии: хайп и революция // СБОРНИК ДОКЛАДОВ XIV международной студенческой научно-практической конференции Управляя будущим. 2020+1: устанавливаем новые правила / Managing the Future. 2020+1: Defining the New Rules. М.: Институт отраслевого менеджмента РАНХиГС, 2021.  С. 6-12.

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УДК: 101.1

Гуров Олег Николаевич / Oleg Gurov

Преподаватель / Lecturer

РАНХиГС при Президенте РФ /RANEPA

Белохина Юлия Сергеевна / Julia Belokhina

Старший преподаватель / Senior lecturer

РАНХиГС при Президенте РФ /RANEPA

+7 (495) 434-50-48


Digital technologies: hype and revolution / Цифровые технологии: хайп и революция

Abstract /Аннотация:

Analyzing the main trends in technological development, it seems important to consider them through the prism of applied business transformation. The article presents the authors’ vision of the prospects for the implementation of promising digital technologies, together with the need to address the ethical challenges that arise in this case. An integrated approach is needed, using which it seems possible to reach a compromise between the stakeholders of social processes in terms of coordinating technological progress and public good.

Анализируя главные тренды технологического развития, представляется важным рассматривать их через призму прикладной трансформации бизнеса. В статье представлено видение авторов относительно перспектив реализации перспективных цифровых технологий вместе с необходимостью решения возникающих при этом этических вызовов. Необходим комплексный подход, при использовании которого представляется возможным достигнуть компромисса между стейкхолдерами общественных процессов в части согласования технологического прогресса и общественного блага.

Key words /Ключевые слова:

digital transformation, digitalization, digital ethics, pandemic, COVID-19, meta-parasite

цифровая трансформация, цифровизация, цифровая этика, пандемия, COVID-19, мета-паразит

First of all, we note that digital technologies are directly related to concept and practice of the digital economy. Speculating about what is primary and what is secondary here does not make sense, but it is important that technologies develop and penetrate public life and in a broad sense transform culture through economic processes. Therefore, we remind that the term «digital economy» was first introduced by D. Trapscott in 1995 to denote an economy that is based on replacing analog devices with digital ones, which use data for computer calculations to create qualitatively new values (1).

In 2016, the G20 published the Digital Economy Development and Cooperation Initiative. The G20 is the leading forum for international cooperation, bringing together the leaders of states with the most developed and emerging economies, and this adopted initiative refines the digital economy as a variety of economic activities, where the use of digital information and knowledge plays the key role in production. According to the definition, modern information networks are becoming an important field of activity, and the effective use of information and communication technologies is a key factor in increasing efficiency and optimizing the structure of the economy. The G20 classifies cloud computing, big data, the Internet of things, financial and other new digital technologies as the main technologies that have a major impact on the transformation of public systems (2).

We consider it important to start with the main definitions, because, as Confucius said, «It is necessary to start by correcting the names … If the names are wrong, then the words have no basis. If words have no basis, then deeds cannot be carried out ….» (3). And observing how specialists and experts today often confuse concepts in political, economic and cultural discourse, it is not surprising that in the public consciousness there is a lot of hype and speculation around digital technologies, especially regarding the prospects for their development and the threats coming from them. For example, in the media, we often see the concepts of «digitalization» and «digital transformation» being used as synonyms, often to broadcast completely different messages, or to pass all something abstract and uncertain. Moreover, these are different concepts which have each own its specific meaning.

In an economic context, «digitalization» refers to the process of transferring of business processes which previously performed by people and companies to the digital environment. And «digital transformation» is these very changes in organizational structures of companies and business models that occur as a result of the replacement of analog technical systems with digital ones, after which digital technologies begin to be applied everywhere (4).

It is the desire to increase digital literacy and awareness that should be the main motivator for analyzing the ongoing phenomena in the economy and public life, which are caused by the development and spread of digital technologies. Probably the most telling business example of how insufficient diving into the details of the problem leads to negative scenarios for the development of certain digital technologies is the history of development of digital assets. Despite a whole range of advantages, cryptocurrencies retain a dubious reputation that hinders their development, distribution and recognition. Part of the blame for this lies with the financial pyramids, often created around this technology according to the Ponzi scheme. This model, which has existed for a hundred years, is based on the fact that the organizers of the scam, hiding behind promises to provide investors with high profits through the successful implementation of an innovative idea, attract users to invest and attract new investors. The most famous example is the OneCoin pyramid, the founders of which claimed to be able to provide higher profits to their members than Bitcoin owners. For 3 years, fraudsters were able to deceive several million people around the world in the amount of from several hundred million to 15 billion euros, according to various estimates (5).

Therefore, when analyzing trends in technology development, it is important to use reliable sources and strive to critically and analytically perceive news in terms of technological development. This is not easy in an environment where the key phenomena and tools of modern life have gone beyond their natural boundaries in the context of the rapid improvement and spread of the same digital technologies. To interpret this phenomenon, we introduced the concept of «meta-parasite» into the humanities as a metaphor reflecting the described contradictory phenomena characteristic of modern social life. By definition, the meta-parasite in the humanitarian sense personifies the fear of incomprehensible and hostile phenomena, which spreads in the information society similarly to parasitic infections (6).

Many of related events in recent years like the digital transformation of the state and the economy, the proliferation of instant messengers and social networks, and the COVID-19 pandemic, makes it possible to apply the meta-parasitic concept to characterize the global situation. Speaking of coronavirus events, a virus exists in the physical world, an infection spreads, and in parallel with this, a virus of the same effect manifests itself in the information and cultural space. The spread of the disease is accompanied by an equally large-scale infodemic — an information pandemic. In this regard, the WHO has prepared and published the article «Managing the COVID-19 Infodemic», which notes that the fight against a biological phenomenon for the first time in world history is carried out with the widespread use of advanced digital technologies and social media on a planetary scale. At the same time, the same digital technologies are responsible for the spread of infodemic, the negative effect of which leads to an increase in tension and violence, economic collapse and negative manifestations in all public spheres on the same global scale (7).

Therefore, in the context of this publication, we consider it most productive to consider trends in technological development through the prism of applied business transformation. Of course, today digital technologies are developing in many directions, but in scientific discourse we are trying to verify these trends in the ongoing and promising areas of digital transformation of the economy. Based, in particular, on the recent analytical report on the prospects of digital transformation in Russia, carried out by Strategy Partners (Sberbank group), we have developed the following complex, in which we tried to put together both topical socio-economic problems and related technological development trends (8):

1. The proliferation of new business models based on the logic of the online platform and ecosystem. In such a business model, the very concept of a product is conceptually changed, which expands to a product + service complex. The monetization model is also qualitatively changing, which under new conditions can be based on a new logic — payment for actual use or, for example, for a successful result according to the pay per click model.

2. Changing the boundaries of industries. In the new conditions, the boundaries between industries are blurring, a kind of tectonic shifts occur, as a result of which convergent and divergent processes occur in different areas — in the industries that belong to the IT sphere, players from other areas come (for example, Siemens products in the field of digital twins), and IT companies are expanding the scope of their activities. In particular, Facebook and Google, in fact, have turned from technology companies to global media moguls. Another example — within the framework of the environmental agenda, oil and gas corporations such as Shell, Total and Rosneft are making powerful investments in green technologies, in particular, in renewable energy (9).

The trends presented above include the entire completeness of promising digital technologies, since they are system-transforming directions of development. Below we will propose more specific trends based on certain promising technologies.

3. Absolute transformation of customer experience and development of a data-driven management model and advanced analytics. This area includes the robotization of processes, the development of the Internet of things and technologies based on AI.

4. Increasing the pace of improving the digital business infrastructure of companies. It is a pure digital business transformation that is moving to a flexible and open cloud infrastructure that enables data integration, security automation practices and distributed computing.

5. Last but not least, the aspects related to human capital management should be noted. Within the framework of the above trends and the spread of digital technologies, it is expected that the labor market will be freed up as a result of the obsolescence of various specialties that have become unclaimed as a result of automation, etc. As a result, companies will face, on the one hand, a shortage of employees and competencies within the framework of new business models, and on the other hand, the need to adapt existing employees to new work formats and models of competence development, including through the formation of individual educational trajectories based on AI technologies.

This challenging situation calls for a mix of continuing education, online education and workplace education. This poses a problem not only for business, but also for the state, which must quickly respond and resolve social issues, and regulate how to ensure retraining and employment of the releasing labor force.

On the other hand, the changes also apply to the format of work and employment in general: flexible work schedules and mechanisms for remote work, as well as work on individual tasks, are being extended.

6. The above trends make it possible to assert that in these conditions, there is an increase in the importance and influence of the state. First of all, this means new requirements for the state. The state must to some extent facilitate and even provide funding for digital transformation projects for business through state support programs, since there is a risk of a digital divide between transformation leaders and those lagging behind, not only at the level of individual companies within the same industry, but also in national scale. And these risks are fraught with serious social consequences.

On the other hand, the development of the “digital state” in terms of the immense possibilities of monitoring, analytics and control leads to the fact that the control of the state is growing to a large extent, and the issues of personal data protection and wider privacy of citizens come to the fore. On this complex, promising and immense problematic, we present several important questions for thought.

First of all, there are two related issues on the agenda. The first is broadly an issue of confidentiality of personal information, and the second is digital surveillance. Both issues are directly related to personal data and data that allows the identification of the subject. And if historically «activities» in these areas was the prerogative of the state, now corporations and even individuals also act as interested parties, active participants and consumers.

The next pool of ethical issues stems from the need to re-evaluate the concept of effectiveness. For example, on the one hand, the aforementioned AI technologies used to replace some of the outdated specialties can indeed significantly increase business productivity, and, at first glance, even contribute to the growth of welfare in society. However, the consequence of this is that human resources become unclaimed, which requires additional resources, investment in retraining and new employment of these specialists. And in these conditions, an integrated approach is needed, which will allow us to weigh all the pros and cons and find a solution that really turns out to be correct and beneficial for public interests (10).

In these conditions, the implementation of promising digital technologies and the ethical problems associated with them require an integrated approach, the result of which will be the achievement of mutual understanding between all interested participants in social processes and the identification of winning development directions in which it will be possible to link and harmonize technical improvement, economic efficiency and ethical requirements.

References / Список литературы:

1. Tapscott D. The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence. NNY: McGraw-Hill, 1997.

2. Initsiativa «Gruppy dvadtsati» po razvitiyu i sotrudnichestvu v oblasti tsifrovoy ekonomiki. URL: http://kremlin.ru/supplement/5111

3. Izrecheniya i aforizmy. Lun’yuy. Moscow: Eksmo, 2009.

4. Tsifrovaya transformatsiya: novyye vyzovy dlya biznesa i rukovoditeley kompaniy. URL: https://kc.hse.ru/2018/05/15/cifrovaya-transformaciya-novye-vyzovy/

5. Afera na milliardy dollarov. Samyye krupnyye kriptovalyutnyye piramidy. URL: https://www.rbc.ru/crypto/news/5ef2f8d39a794723a77a8a87

6. Gurov O. N. «Metaparazit» kak fenomen sovremennoy massovoy kul’tury. Novosibirsk,: Izd-vo NGPU, 2018.

7. Managing the COVID-19 infodemic: Promoting healthy behaviours and mitigating the harm from misinformation and disinformation. URL: https://www.who.int/news/item/23-09-2020-managing-the-covid-19-infodemic-promoting-healthy-behaviours-and-mitigating-the-harm-from-misinformation-and-disinformation

8. Perspektivy tsifrovoy transformatsiy v Rossii. URL: https://ac.gov.ru/uploads/5-Presentations/цифровой_трансформации_в_России._Точин.pdf

9. Pochemu neftegazovyye korporatsii perekhodyat na zelenyye tekhnologii URL: https://www.vedomosti.ru/partner/articles/2020/10/30/845036-neitralnie-uglevodorodi

10. Gurov O. (2020). Ethical Interaction with Intellectual Systems. Artificial societies. 15(3). DOI: 10.18254/S207751800010905-4

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2. Инициатива «Группы двадцати» по развитию и сотрудничеству в области цифровой экономики. URL: http://kremlin.ru/supplement/5111

3. Изречения и афоризмы. Луньюй. Москва: Эксмо, 2009.

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5. Афера на миллиарды долларов. Самые крупные криптовалютные пирамиды. URL: https://www.rbc.ru/crypto/news/5ef2f8d39a794723a77a8a87

6. Гуров О.Н. «Метапаразит» как феномен современной массовой культуры. Новосибирск: Изд-во НГПУ, 2018.

7. Managing the COVID-19 infodemic: Promoting healthy behaviours and mitigating the harm from misinformation and disinformation. URL: https://www.who.int/news/item/23-09-2020-managing-the-covid-19-infodemic-promoting-healthy-behaviours-and-mitigating-the-harm-from-misinformation-and-disinformation

8. Перспективы цифровой трансофмации в России. URL: https://ac.gov.ru/uploads/5-Presentations/цифровой_трансформации_в_России._Точин.pdf

9. Почему нефтегазовые корпорации переходят на зеленые технологии. URL: https://www.vedomosti.ru/partner/articles/2020/10/30/845036-neitralnie-uglevodorodi

10. Гуров О. Н. Этичное взаимодействие с интеллектуальными системами // Искусственные общества. URL: https://artsoc.jes.su/s207751800010905-4-1/

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