Category: Society and the economy

How has technology development changed the nature of society and the economy?

The digital economy

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on the panel for Blockchain and the Digital Economy at ADC’s Leadership Forum. The session outline led with three questions:

  • How has 2020 accelerated the acceptance of the digital economy?
  • Is blockchain fulfilling its promise as the new universal disruptor?
  • How real is the role of cryptocurrencies as the new universal store of value? 

It’s a large topic and an important one, as if we’re to address challenges such as growing inequality then we need to find a way to make the economy work for all of us, rather than just some of us.

Unfortunately, as too often happens, adding blockchain to a topic results in blockchain dominating the discussion with other interesting ideas ignored. Blockchain is quickly positioned as the solution and all other ways of framing (and understanding) the problems we face are ignored. This panel was no different in this regard.

Some of the ideas that would have been relevant in a broader discussion are things that I’ve been exploring for a while. Before the panel I’d pulled together an outline of the argument as to why our future is not “the digital economy”, but something much more interesting, and which creates more opportunity and freedom to act in addressing the challenges we’re facing. Rather than let a good outline go to waste I thought I’d build it out a little and publish it here.

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A moral license for AI

We have a new essay published in Deloitte Insights, A moral license for AI: Ethics as a dialogue between firms and communities. This collaboration with CSIRO’s Data61 looks into the challenge of creating ethical AI, picking apart the problems and proposing a way forward. There’s a launch event on the 2nd of September, 2020, which you can register for via Zoom.

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On bland economic models and the colonial mindset

A team at Harvard has released a new version of the Atlas of Economic Complexity, an index of ‘economic complexity’. Journalists have pounced on the model to make that case—as they often do—that Australia is a second class country run by second rate politicians. The problem is that the model seems rather bland, only proving that Australia is a large country with a small population (and correspondingly small market) a long way from the major markets. We already knew this.

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