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  • Writer's pictureMira Yossifova

Tech Transformation: How Policymakers Can Lead with Education, Innovation, and Regulation

In a time when rivers and deserts are no longer the markers of our limits, a new era is upon us. The digital age has dismantled the geography that once defined nations. But as we embrace the promise of a networked society, governments face a challenge: How do they navigate this boundless future?

Adapting to technological change will be challenging because changing the paradigms of society and the economy is no easy business. We must implement complementary measures to prepare for the future. We need an equal focus on a disruptive educational system, good governance, and a well-governed competitive market.


First, we need to change the schooling system. Making digital literacy, digital skills, and programming fundamental tenets of education is crucial. If we want to thrive in the age of AI, we must equip our children to keep pace with technology. Education should reinvent itself and focus on building creativity, problem-solving, and resilience skills.

The best investment governments can make for the future is in human capital. What our generation needs and has the responsibility to do is to enable children to think for themselves. Having their agency is the ultimate instrument we can give them to repair the future. It is the next generation's job, not ours, to reinvent the world. Ours is to provide them with the proper instruments to do so. Our kids should become the disruptive agents of the future.

An excellent example of a future-oriented school is the Agora School in the Netherlands. It is a place that is focused on the process of learning and not teaching. Children's interests are at the heart of the educational process. The school's educational process centers around the student and learning through play, redefining traditional education.

Good Governance

Next, we'll need to redefine the nature of governance. Governmental organizations must orient towards user experience and as service providers competing for citizens' trust. Otherwise, loss of trust will erode the state's and citizens' relationship. Constant innovation must be embedded in the core of the public sector so that it can be more dependable and people-oriented in the 21st-century world. If institutions fail to renew themselves constantly, they risk declining over time. Undermining the state in a world where the influence of technology is limitless will put citizens in real danger.

Government institutions need to reorient themselves toward continuous change and reverse the policymaking process to stay on the crest of the wave of technological change. They should embrace the characteristics of a "minimal viable product" – quickly adopting limited initial regulatory steps [1]. Administrations can quickly react to and anticipate change by hacking the regulatory process. Incremental policymaking is vital for a world where fast and digital are defining factors. One radical idea is for institutions to switch to a competitive style – to have to apply each year for funding. This competition could significantly increase their effectiveness.

Data integrity is another key ingredient to building trust as the foundation of a post-privacy age[2]. If the state is going to operate with our data, it must build a trustworthy information exchange system, and we will need to be able to exercise control over our data. Today's players tend to forget that users are the sole owners of their data. What we do is cede it to institutions for a while. This, however, does not mean that we allow them to own or operate with our data without our knowledge. Leaving control in the hands of citizens is crucial to building trust. And trust is one of the building blocks of the technological future and democracy.

In addition, to build trust, governments also need to ensure the security of the entire supply chain of ICT products. Cooperation among countries will build a positive technological future. It is for the protection of the supply chains that a group of UN government experts call in their Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security [3].

А well-governed competitive market

Thirdly, of equal importance is for policymakers to watch over single entities having control over the technology stack. The problem with an unregulated market is the disorderly economic interests of monopolies, which can ignore the harmful effects of their products. This is why antitrust laws are required to ensure small players have a share of the innovation process. Otherwise, they'll be choked by the colossal powers of giant corporations. And with that, over time, the innovation process can stagnate. Full control over the technology stack is against the very nature of the competitive market and the innovation process. Competition leads to innovation, and innovation leads to progress.

On the other hand, the problem with regulators is that they, too, tend to forget that true innovation comes from below. Innovation is not easy. It must overcome several obstacles, precisely when the state should intervene - to help ease them. However, the state is not an innovator itself. The very nature of the innovative process is the nature of repeated experimentation and failure. This is precisely why publicly funded bodies are rarely the drivers of change, or not at all. So, what the state can do is create the proper conditions for nurturing the innovative process and competition as a whole.

It is essential to prioritize the most humanistic development and regulation of AI if it is to become the agent of the future. That includes equal division of AI development and adoption between states, entities, and individuals. There mustn't be one unified AI operator in the future since voluntary producing and giving away so much power to a single or two to three players will be eroding for society. The concept of open tech development should be embedded in future policymaking. Otherwise, under- or overregulation of tech development will tend to shift towards authoritarian regimes, either by states or mastodont tech companies of the future. And we need none of the above.

To be prepared for our technological future, we must employ a multidimensional strategy, a combination of human-centric public policies, a well-governed competitive market, and qualified people. The technological future requires a more active regulatory approach in which "government officials develop an even greater understanding of technology trends" [4].

By acting today, policymakers can build a future where technology empowers rather than divides us, and we can reshape our technological destiny. Otherwise, tech development will outpace us, and there is a significant risk for the future of our well-being when we are left behind.

Image: Freepik

[1] Brad Smith, "Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age" [2] Andrew Keen, "How to Fix the Future: Staying Human in the Digital Age" [3] [4] Brad Smith, "Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age"

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