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From globalisation to digital autocracy

Oct 31,2019 - Last updated at Oct 31,2019

Globalisation, as it has been termed, was a short, artificial and mislabelled stage that is now clinically dying. It has been characterised in the past as well as to this day as a "democratic" evaluation in the areas of governance, management and industry and at the same time in inefficiency and declining ability to analyse information and make decisions. Its remnants are still present in various parts of the world where individuals enjoy measures of free opinions, conclusions and deductions.

Modern technology, however, especially artificial intelligence and machine learning, comes now to swing this path upside down, opening the door to detailed information-gathering and analysis, the likes of which has never been previously seen, and which will inevitably have an effect on law- and policy-making.

It took Europe 20 years to move out of the dark ages to the Renaissance, but in the new information age this will involve much less time for us in the Arab region for two main reasons: First, this new global digital progress moves no longer in steps but in strides, and secondly because the Arab consumer of this technology received it readily packaged. The world today is facing the most efficient and productive autocracy in information technology.

The democratic globalisation era was in yester years the optimal mechanism in a given society to filter human options and transform the majority’s decisions into state policies under the roof of the law and the criterion of protecting minority rights. Today, deep and focused oversight mechanism rises for the production of these laws and policies through data processing and machine learning.

However, along with the huge growth in the various capital indicators of the digital revolution, we find the majority of people getting poorer to an extent that it is a serious problem we have to face head-on. I had demanded from the rostrum of the UN to focus on social impacts of technology because economy was initially designed to serve societies and build civilisations rather than drown in a swamp of capitals and looting by a few influential figures, simply because they control the digital technology and channel it to influence their vulnerable users.

Today, we coexist inside communities disciplined by these strongmen’s control. From home to school to work and to hospital, severely disciplined communities are under the vigilant and sustainably controlling eyes where people work and operate. This is the new digital autocracy gradually replacing democratic thoughts and acts. It takes away individual behaviours to establish a shaking and dysfunctional but strong and aware relationship between the governors (observer) and the governed (observed), leading to slide the latter, without being aware, into typical living and thinking. This is the intellectual autocracy that will spread soon like a wildfire.

We must turn into knowledge-producing societies, as we are responsible for guiding our grandchildren to think right and spread a mainstream investment in innovative culture and provide a suitable environment that will contribute to the renaissance of humanity and, as a result, quickly change the behaviour of states and nations. This will have an inevitable effect on global power, as those nations that can wield this technology will come up trumps.

Technology presents a unique opportunity for us that we must cease and claim dominance in. State control over citizens is backing off now to the digital institutions control over consumers that have formed a new digital based autocracy. It is a whole new world coming to us in earnest, opening the doors into its wide avenues filled with surprises and opportunities.

It is my sincere hope that we be remembered by our younger generations as forefathers that thought wisely and acted promptly in light of having such technology at our disposal. It is in democratising our very existence as humans and providing a digital autocracy that we must claim our place.

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