New technologies will not change the world in the future: they are changing it right now. At the same time, it is not just the decisions or processes that change, but the distribution of influence itself. It is easy to see how transnational corporations have surpassed the possibilities of states in many areas, while megacities have become centres of civilisation today. States are still regulators that provide legal and physical infrastructure, but the development of a country directly depends on the success of its businesses and the number of business centres. In parallel with this, is the process of decentralisation, for example, where the concept is not one megacity, but the grouping of them. This is a trend Ukraine needs to catch in time.
Large modern cities concentrate on an economically active population, including capital and technology, challenging existing approaches to the administration of its territories; and I am talking about not only well-known centres attracting resources. For example, it is no longer clear which is more important: New York with its stock exchange or Silicon Valley with its innovations. The fact is both are important, and not only these two. China, Spain, and even our closer (and not just geographically) neighbour – Estonia – has become new important points on the world map. And here we are talking specifically about the role of individual companies and their success in the global arena; not the states as such.
One of the most radical examples, in every sense, is the United Arab Emirates. The introduction of technology based on artificial intelligence in the UAE is ongoing, and is happening at a fast pace. In early 2018, it was announced that staff of the UAE immigration service would be replaced with systems of artificial intelligence, and quite recently the Emirati government announced its future intention to completely switch to artificial intelligence in the judicial system when considering certain categories of civil suits. We should not forget about the reverse sides of this process, however, because the main engine of innovation in the UAE is the state and even a whole ministry for the development of artificial intelligence has been created. This combination of centralisation mixed with religiosity leads to incidents where punishment in the form of stoning and high technology coexist in one country.
A similar example can be seen in China, where modern solutions are used to tighten control, subjecting total surveillance of disloyal citizens. What this does is remind us that technology does not guarantee an ethical approach, and that this topic should be widely discussed in society. Here I would like to emphasise once again that it is important for Ukraine to use its potential as a democratic state to take another step towards technological progress.
Global innovation centres in Silicon Valley, New York, and London continue to utilise global venture capital, talent, and innovative expertise. In turn, countries and cities focused on development create exclusive conditions for introducing start-up ecosystems. That is the way Ukraine should go, something Kyiv already understands. Even Mayor Klitschko is focusing on attracting new investors to create innovative sites. But this concept of a ‘smart city’ is also developing. Facial recognition systems are being created, which, unlike China, are aimed not at discrimination, but at protecting the public and improving police performance.
This however is only a tentative step. In order to successfully compete with world centres, and not remain forever on the periphery, it is necessary to look for working ideas. All over the world, corporations are moving to open innovation platforms, learning to develop new solutions not within a single company, but appealing to a community of global talents. Investors are increasingly prone to choosing targeted teams with inspiring ideas and supporting potential opportunities instead of detailed business plans. What does this mean? It means that innovations require global vision and bold but balanced decisions. Only with the support of this vector can we truly become one of the international places of power.