The International Economic Forum in Davos pointed Ukraine to its real position on the world map. In this case, technology. Every year, on the eve of the World Economic Forum, Bloomberg publishes an innovation rating of world economies. This year, Ukraine featured 53rd out of 60, having lost seven positions since 2018. Almost as confirmation, the Mayor of Kyiv announced at the forum that development for a smart city would remain in medium- and long-term plans only. The most fatal mistake of this approach is the illusion that digital (and indeed any innovation) is not necessary. Here, it is believed that patching up potholes on the roads is more important. But then it turns out that while we repair our roads in Ukraine, in other countries they are no longer driving on the ground.
Technological lag is a critical issue for Ukraine. It is critical because there are resources for development, which is oft spoken about. The peculiarity of human resource is that it does not deplete from use, but from inattention and/or unwillingness to develop. Moreover, we maintain a naive belief in a one-time effort – that we will tense up and surprise the whole world. This will not happen. Moreover, the longer we go, the less chance there will be.
Most of the discussions in Davos this year concerned technology. From climate change issues to the problem of non-compliance in education and the demand for jobs. What can Ukraine say against this backdrop? So far, little more than to admit that we voluntarily give away our chances to have a voice in the global technological revolution. Is it possible to rectify the situation? Yes, if we move the question of innovations and their implementation from the category of design or decoration to that of architecture. Technology in the modern world is not a decoration, but a resource for development, structure, and foundation.
One of the most prominent speeches at Davos-2019 was that not of a politician, but of one of the founders and chairman of the board of directors of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma. In his speech, he noted that the last decades of globalisation have been controlled by 60 000 large companies, and over the next 30 years he wants to involve 60 million companies, including small businesses, in this process. If you think that these are just beautiful words, you are wrong. Jack Ma, like no one else, understands how important decentralised algorithms are, and systems based on blockchain technology are in fact far more stable. He also understands that this principle allows for the avoidance of inequalities in the system and pressure from individual players.
Ukraine should absolutely be one of the proponents of this approach. We must understand that our ability to influence world processes cannot be based on force. This is an impossible resource and unacceptable for us ethically. On the contrary, we must participate in developments on an equal footing to form connections and interactions. This must be done not in a single leap, so as to jump into a team of leaders, but gradually grow into the infrastructure, working systematically. Acceptance of this kind of logic is the basic condition for long-term development.
However, there is a sphere in which a sharp transition is needed. Ukraine must move from declarations, intentions, and forums to action. The moment manifestos were expected from us was in 2014, following the victory of the Revolution of Dignity. After that, hard work should have begun. At the moment, we are only marking the movements. Yes, this is an opportunity, but it is also a risk to miss out on much inf we don’t start working now. Data security, encryption, algorithms for analysing large amounts of information, machine learning technology, and the development of a smart city are all areas in which it is important to participate right now. It is important not only for business development, but also politically, because this is the only way we might find the opportunity to defend our voice in the international arena. At this point we are invisible on the map of technology. The question is, will we become a point of reference, or will we decide to remain inconspicuous.