How to build a fairer and more inclusive Digital Society?
December 3, 2021
Marco Romiti, First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN; H.E. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantam), Nigerian Federal Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Pierpaolo Saporito, President of OCCAM and Infopoverty Programme; Hon. Daniela Rondinelli, Member of the European Parliament; Prof. Paola Pisano, Former Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitalisation; Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Anna Scavuzzo, Vice Major of Milan; Imtiaz Dharker, poet; Prof. Heidi Tworek; Mr Syed Munir Khasru; Dr Rosanna Di Gioia; Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes; Mr Muhammad Khurram Khan; Mr Emmanuel Amos; President Tony Ojobo; Prof. Giovanna Seddaiu, EWA-BELT Coordinator; Dr Noel Makete; Dr Bazoumana Koulibaly; Dr Deodatus Kiriba; Dr Joseph Adjebeng-Danquah; Prof. Alemayehu Chala; Prof. Joseph Tholley; Mr Toky Ravoavy; Dr Nicol Turner-Lee; Rev. Andrea Ciucci; Mr Benjamin Horton; Dr Hassan Ghazal; Mr Patrizio Civili; Ms Erin McCluskey; Ms Irene Okike Mmam; Ms Roberta Bosu; Mr Abishek Kumar; and Mr Michel Alimasi.
Convene on the following
We can consider 2021 as the year when the digital revolution has seen its entelekia blossom, thanks also to the pandemic that has demonstrated the fragility and inadequacy of the existing institutional structures in addressing the concomitant environmental, economic, and social crises. The ICTs – Information Communication Technologies – are able to provide new and efficient solutions to these emergencies, with smart working, e-commerce, and e-learning transforming essential functions from a physical nature to a virtual one. New paradigms have emerged thanks to global connectivity, a unifying language, that has allowed the overcoming of the space-time constraints in the new virtual territories that have opened, making us aware that we are one human community. Virtual territories have surfaced, created mostly by private instances, soon populated by immense masses interconnected through forms of interactive communication that have never been experienced in history.
But now that we have started to get to know these new virtual territories, in which we have taken refuge from the risks of reality, we need to ask ourselves: are they safe and reliable? Who governs them? What underlies them? What purpose does their being have? But, most importantly, how can this phenomenon now underway determine the creation of a new digital society?
The conference dealt with these issues with the competence of its prestigious participants and by elaborating some apt suggestions to establish a feasible scenario, while still being aware of the fragmentation of the puzzle being played.
Being the most complex operating virtual organism, the Web is based on matrices created for the most part by private companies, who have quickly become the main owners, financial superpowers acting with ever-increasing liberty in savage far-west-like territories. In order to safeguard such an environment, the need for a strong regulation emerges, one able to ensure respect for human rights, the enhancement of cultural identities, and a standardization that avoids any discrimination and is inclusive of all social components beginning with the most disadvantaged. Further, these Regulation Systems, promoted and equipped with adequate resources by the gatherings of Nations, must be able to provide services to those in need in terms of affordability and sustainability for all.
The mechanisms that create the digital world are substantially hinged on algorithms, the crucial elements of platforms. These algorithms are created often without too many concerns about security, affordability, compliance, insofar they are not fraudulent or virus generators. It is recommended to urgently qualify the informatic operators in a formal professional Order, as in other sensitive professions, such as the medical or architectural ones, so they are bound to ethical principles, in order to avoid the current risks at the root and to guarantee a clean web at source. The current mechanisms of proliferation and data management need to be oriented not towards the existing speculative use, but rather towards those social instances that only democratic institutions can guarantee. Therefore, maximum rigour about Privacy is suggested, hitherto little protected because of the IT sophisms put in place by marketing strategies, oriented to the sale of products and not of services for a generalized well-being.
The innovations triggered by the advent of the blockchain, which eliminates traditional controls, shakes the structure on which the entire global financial system rests upon, already weakened by the huge gap between GDP and Futures values. The dematerialization of money, together with the advent of cryptocurrencies, is changing the entire financial system, currently entangled in huge debts. This breakdown necessarily imposes new strategies to incentivize mass circulation rather than the accumulation by a few, in order to activate latent human resources, not only material, by simplifying access and procedures.
In the existing pandemic situation, it is a duty and a necessity to ensure widespread a telemedicine, at present hampered by obsolete practices, that does not replace the human relationship doctor-patient but supports the processes of diagnosis and treatment; as well as training, linked to a post-industrial vision; job creation in terms of new meanings of prosumer; food security, to avoid situations of famine; and other e-services for development. If adequately set-up and operative, these processes will guarantee the most successful best practices, so that they can be implemented by capable and prominent institutions (governments, communities, NGOs or other) on a wide scale, establishing a kind of Bank of e-Best Practices for promoting and sharing solutions of e-welfare for all, thus sustaining the core mission of the conference.
The criterion of sustainability must be extended, from the social one, where poverty is linked to the index of tolerable wealth, quality of life and social stability, to the sustainable capacity of a community in order to preserve its identity. Such a criterion is also valid for climate change, related to clean energies and the necessary product innovations tending to energetic self-sufficiency or low voltage and consumption motors, and could be applied in all aspects of governance; establishing homogeneous criteria of sustainability in all the fields means improving their performances on the expected outcomes.
Scientific research in Artificial Intelligence is leading to a sort of gold rush to find the ideal formula that can rationalize every action on the world as a whole: a Promethean project of automation and robotization, in which the human factor becomes negligible. This process must be democratically governed at the highest levels with an extensive knowledge and data sharing, openness to copyleft so that decisions could be inspired by primary human values. Neurological-computation science, if not human-rights oriented, could degenerate in a nefarious instrument of power. We therefore make our suggestion to establish an ethical mechanism able to supervise and orient the Artificial Intelligence evolution, which can correctly lead this process. The innovations triggered by the advent of the blockchain, which eliminates traditional controls, risks shaking the structure on which the entire global financial system rests upon.
To avoid such perils and to open a new era of prosperity, thanks to the correct use of digital, we therefore join the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Gutierrez, in supporting the creation of large proactive alliances with all the main social, public, and private stakeholders of the transition process, in order to overcome together the current dramatic situation and create a win-win strategy in favour of human development on our planet.
In the light of the results achieved on such challenging topics, the 21st Infopoverty World Conference intends to strengthen the efforts already underway between eminent public and private institutions with further studies and meetings, launching a consultation structure open to various qualified contributions, and thus reaching the next Infopoverty Conference in 2022 with an increasingly operational definition of the roadmap that leads to the construction of a fairer, and more inclusive Digital Society.