Waiting for yet another Industrial Revolution

The PC revolution. The Internet revolution. The mobile revolution. The social media revolution. The blockchain revolution. And the AI re-revolution. We seem to be living in times of Permanent Revolution. Also reminds me of the Age of Revolution that thrived a couple of centuries ago. Back then, social uprising calling for regime change was the clarion call. Nowadays, revolutions touted by the media are mostly limited to rapid technological change, pace the failed Arab Spring. Times seemed to have changed. However, let us not forget that social unrest is still pretty much alive, especially in countries where deep socio-economic and political divisions are pervasive, as is the case in many developing countries. On the other hand, one has to wonder how many of these countries have experienced

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Vaccine Inequality

Already under siege in many quarters, Globalization has now added the seemingly unstoppable spread of the Corona Virus to its already dubious credentials. As expected, not one single country has been spared, rich and poor suddenly standing on the same level playing field – a milestone economic globalization never accomplished despite mainstream media coverage tirelessly reporting otherwise. A treacherous pathogen, Corona’s desperate seek for hosts to ensure its survival also operated as a mole invading human bodies silently, the host remaining oblivious to the ongoing attack while recruiting more hosts unknowingly. Indeed, Corona is an insidious viral multiplier of the Globalization process.

While initial lockdown policies were first deemed autocratic and anti-democratic, most countries

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AI and Development Policies

Strongly supported by behemoth tech companies, the “ethical and responsible” AI discourse has managed to almost completely overshadow the relevant conversation on the potential socio-economic impact the resurgent technology might have in developing countries. While such discourse’s subtle agenda, apparently now failing, is essentially aimed at avoiding any government regulation by promoting “AI for good,” research on its economic impact seems minimal in comparison. Research on AI public policies in developing countries I completed with a college at the end of last year (to be published soon, hopefully) showed that most Global South countries are not even thinking about the topic. And the few that have taken steps overemphasize its ethical aspects – some even openly opposing any regulation

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Better “AI for Good”

While the dystopian camp perceives digital technologies as a formidable, perhaps even unsurmountable threat to society, those on the other, much more optimistic side do not seem to get tired of repeating its almost countless benefits. The latter camp apparently has the upper hand, at least for now, as its message captures most daily media headlines, mainstream and otherwise. Doom technology scenarios occasionally take center stage when one global personality decides to warn us, once again, about the war we are about to lose should technology be left to its own devices.

Despite such opposing views, both camps share the idea that technology is just like Frankenstein, a human creation that somehow has acquired a life of its own, a distinct personality and a determined will. If we are on the

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Digital Government in Jamaica

The last time I visited Jamaica was in the early 2000s. A few years before, we had launched the national node of the old and now defunct Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP). It was labeled JSDNP and did quite a bit of work locally fostering digital technologies and creating and disseminating local content. Unfortunately,  JSDNP ended operations sort of unexpectedly in 2006.  Now I am playing catch-up with the island’s digital evolution. And thanks to COIVD-19, I was not able to travel. Virtual will never beat the good old analog thing, that is for sure.

The pandemic unexpectedly struck the world amid yet another wave of digital technology innovation, thus adding seemingly insurmountable obstacles to an already crowded set of development challenges. Jamaica has not been spared

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Evolving COVID-19

Over six months after its official birth, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expand globally, as expected. Long-term lockdowns and other complementary measures have impacted, especially in industrialized countries that, back in June, were leading in cases and deaths. Not that the virus has been tamed, not at all. Rather, it now seems to be more isolated, albeit a so-called second wave is expected to kick-off once the colder weather in the Northern Hemisphere starts to gain steam – to fog, your pick. With the notable exception of Africa, developing nations are now in the midst of the first massive spread wave. Governments there have also adopted similar containment measures. Nevertheless, implementation and enforcement are more challenging thanks to more widespread poverty and less than subpar

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Digital Government Revisited – III

Institutions matter, more so for the development and implementation of Digital Government (DG), whose core target is public institutions’ transformation. On the one hand, public institutions should have an array of capacities to ensure public investments in digital technologies are effectively managed from beginning to end. In many low-income countries, such capabilities are exiguous or conspicuously absent. On the other, digital technologies are a means to foster public entities’ responsiveness and effectiveness, thus increasing their overall capacity to deliver established legal mandates.  Juggling these two seemingly contradictory propositions in sustained fashion is one of the core challenges governments face when designing and deploying DG, especially in the Global South, where state capacity

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Digital Government Revisited – II

Since the early 1980s, Governments have taken a bad rap. Menacing fingerpointing from most quarters ended up on a consensus that loudly declared them personas non-gratas. The 2009 Global Financial Crisis started to turn the tide. At the time, governments once again came to the rescue of capitalism, unveiling gigantic financial packages to prevent critical financial institutions’ failure. Once the recovery started a few years later, Governments took the back seat once more, backed by universal austerity policies that, in hindsight, did more damage than anything else – especially in terms of income and wealth inequality.

The ongoing pandemic has once again demanded the strong intervention of Governments. However, this time around, the crisis is impacting most, if not all, sectors, in addition

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Digital Government Revisited

Overview

Running on the coattails of electronic commerce, Digital Government (DG) first saw the light of day over 20 years ago. Initially christen as electronic government or e-government, it has since experienced multiple name changes, ranging from e-governance and transformational government to intelligent and smart government. Nowadays, the field seems to be enjoying its run as DG. Regardless of its actual denomination, DG’s indisputable mandate is to transform public institutions via the strategic deployment of digital technologies – the emphasis placed on transformation, not technologies. Such digital transformation must modernize the public sector, thereby leading to increased overall institutional capacity, enhanced provision of public goods, services, and information, and the promotion

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Contentious Politics in the AI Age

Initially touted as revolutionary and progressive in the 1990s, the lightening evolution of digital technologies, running on the coattails of continuous innovation, has been accompanied by the rise of both extreme socio-economic inequalities and loud and widespread populism, nationalism and overt racism. Many countries are undergoing de-democratization processes undergirded by very resilient neoliberalism, while claim-making by conservative political actors has gained considerable ground in the always contentious political arena.

The unexpected and devastating pandemic triggered by the accelerated spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus has put into evidence the real constraints of a now aging and highly monopolistic digital sector. While information and communication tools and platforms are indeed

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