WPF: Rhodes Forum: Economics Panel #1, entitled “Impact of New Technologies and Digitalization on Society

Economics Panel #1, entitled “Impact of New Technologies and Digitalization on Society” was moderated by Eva Kaili and digital entrepreneur Rob van Kranenburg. Panelists included President of the InfoWatch Group of Companies and Co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, Natalya Kaspersky; Founder of Margaris Advisory, Spiros K. Margaris; head of government and external affairs of BMW Group India, Vinod Pandey; Founder and CEO of GLBrain, Wolfgang Pinegger; and Lecturer at University of the Arts and Humboldt University, Jens Wendland.

The panel addressed the potential value and possible challenges of new technologies. The main discussion was about how new technologies and complex phenomena such as Big Data could be used for the common good. Eva Kaili opened the panel by pointing out that there are strings attached to new technologies like geo-blocking and price discrimination.

Overall, Kaili emphasised the need to embrace new technologies and to get the best out of it for users. Rob van Kranenburg talked about the disruptive force of this wave of technology, which has accelerated after storage capacity dramatically increased in the 2000s. Spiros Margaris discussed the opportunities that can be derived from technological advances and how the fintech industry could contribute to the common good via fairer bank fees and interest rates.
Jens Wendland reflected on how the discourse about digitalisation and globalisation will fundamentally change. He noted that geopolitical shifts will move digitalisation away from the domination of the US towards a multipolar digital world order. This will be marked by the rise of the new economic, political, and military power of China and the strengthening of the BRICS group.

Wolfgang Pinegger presented his ideas on how the internet could help bridge the gap between developed and developing regions. He argued that the internet can enable local economic development. He stressed the fact that Africa, and India to some extent, will see the greatest increase in internet usage.

Natalya Kaspersky began by stating that she dislikes new technologies and if she had the choice she would prohibit them altogether. She expressed doubts that international treaties will stop the criminal use of technology, because important stakeholders, such as multinational corporations, are driven by wishes for dominance and profit from unrestricted access to Big Data.

Vinod Pandey spoke about new trends in mobility, especially with regards to his company BMW. In his presentation, Pandey talked about the new directional shift in mobility – with electric mobility, shared mobility, and digital gadgets being the most prominent developments.

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