2020: Start of digital renaissance of economy

Published : 30 Jul 2020 10:12 PM | Updated : 05 Sep 2020 07:28 PM

We have all heard of the saying ‘Rome was not built in a day.’ In the same manner the pre-Covid-19 state of world economy was also not something that was easily achieved. It took ages and ages, from the birth of civilization to world trade and globalization to achieve the state of the fluid machine that we knew as economy. This propelled the world ahead and helped the countries which struggled in comparison with others to get better in a steady manner. 

This all was flipped upside-down with the advent of the global coronavirus epidemic. Industries and factories shut down and people got locked down. As a result, the economy took a great hit. Not just any single country, all over the world the massive force of a country’s drive forwards had been brought to a standstill because of economic disruption. 

But, there is another saying that accompanies the one I mentioned prior — ‘Nero fiddles while Rome burns.’ We as members of a group who have had the privilege of being benefitted by the global economy don’t have the scope to fiddle around. It is upon us to take care of this limping economy and nourish it back to full strength. This cannot be achieved by any nation single handedly. In order to achieve this people and nations have to band together and look for a way through which proper cooperation can be achieved.

If you need to build something, you need to first destroy another. The coronavirus epidemic has achieved the latter part. We are in a predicament that dictates there is need for a change. Like Mr Daniel Araya has stated in his article ‘The Coming Digital Renaissance’, “A crisis event threatens social collapse. It catalyzes a change in the general mood that propels a society towards maximum social order. As fear turns into unity, political gridlock gives way to new emergency institutions. Finally, a new generation arises to establish a new civic order.”

We as members of a group who have had the privilege 

of being benefitted by the global economy don’t have 

the scope to fiddle around. It is upon us to take care of 

this limping economy and nourish it back to full strength

We have already started to overcome the fear of coronavirus. Even though death tolls are racking up, we still have to move forward to establish a new economy that will be better than the previous one and the best way to do it is for digital economy. We were moving forward in this with the fourth industrial revolution. It is a part of our present and future, and it is “different from its predecessors because of the combination of factors: (a) integrated circuits on microchips, (b) memory units to store information, (c) networks that help to enhance communication, (d) software applications that provide a direct link to consumers’ needs and (e) sensor capacity that allows artificial intelligence to analyse most things which were previously only accessible to the human mind” (Thomas Friedman 2016). 

Bangladesh too has to look forward to how it can achieve its own digital economic revolution. Our country has already achieved much in this sector. But, it still is too little and needs further polishing. With Bangladesh being well represented before digital world and e-ASEAN, we are already stepping forward to achieving digital economy but it is not yet enough.

We need investors both foreign and domestic to invest in digitization of processes that will expedite the fourth industrial revolution. We are already witnessing the effects of greater integration of the physical and digital dimensions, augmented network effects which will create a much more flexible system distributed throughout the network. 

What is needed now is to look beyond the anguish that the people are suffering and think of a better new world order. As Mr Daniel Araya continues, “each new cycle begins with the crisis of the last. Beyond the downward spiral of short-term consumption and rising debt, we are witnessing the emergence of a new civilization.”

With the emergence of a new civilization, there will be new key aspects that will come into focus, such as “machine automation— particularly decision-making. As AI and Big Data are deployed at scale, their capacity for ‘industrializing learning’ will make it impossible for humans to compete.”

According to a recent study by the Brookings Institution, automation is now expected to surge with the current economic downturn. But as automation replaces labor it will also serve as the basis for a coming digital Renaissance.

And we are already at the doorsteps of a new era with the coming of this epidemic, it is not too far away that time pushes us forth for a better adapted way of looking towards world and how we live in it. Mr Araya says, “Underlying this transformation will be a reconception of learning and education: From training skilled workers for capitalist markets to supporting the needs of creative citizens (paideia) as ecological stewards. And just as the intellectual genius of ancient Athens depended upon an economy of slavery, so an economy of machines will liberate new generations of artists, scientists, and engineers to craft a new social order.”

In case of Bangladesh we need to look forward to startups and venture capital as it will be a starting step for the achieving of a digital Bangladesh in the long run. We also need to look towards foreign examples and engage in idea sharing so that proper knowledge can be acquired for betterment of the digital economy in this age of neo-Renaissance. 

Md Saifuddin Al Quaderi is working with Bangladesh Post