Felix B Bopp, Founder & Chairman
7 success factors to empowering rural women through ICTs
FAO is an intergovernmental organization present in over 130 countries. The Organization is comprised of 194 Member States, two associate members and one member organization – The European Union.
Using technology to transform lives
Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) improve the lives of smallholder farmers in many ways, from monitoring crops to tracking market prices. While women play a fundamental role in agricultural production, they tend to have less access to ICTs, leaving them and their families at a disadvantage. ©FAOThe digital revolution has changed the way we work, access information and connect with each other. It offers opportunities to those who can use the new technologies, but also presents new challenges for those who are left behind.Often referred to collectively as Information and Communications Technologies or ICTs, these technologies are any method of electronically sharing or storing data: telephones, mobile broadband, the internet, broadcasting, sensor networks, data storage and analytics, and more. ICTs improve the lives of small farmers in a myriad of ways, from monitoring crops to tracking market prices and from spreading good practices to facilitating access to banking services. The list goes on.Yet much of this potential remains untapped, particularly in the case of women, who play a fundamental role in agricultural production but also face a triple divide: digital, rural and gender. They often tend to have less access to ICTs, leaving them and their families at a disadvantage. Here are seven critical factors for success when making ICTs available and accessible to rural communities, especially women.
1. Adapt content so that it is meaningful for them.
While ICTs can deliver large amounts of information, this does not imply effective use of it. Adaptation of content to local needs, languages and contexts often remains a challenge. Hence, content should be adapted to local languages and repackaged to suit formats that meet the different information needs.
2. Create a safe environment for them to share and learn.
Illiteracy, and limited skills in using complex devices to search for information and cultural issues, remain barriers to effectively receiving and using information delivered via ICTs. For example, illiterate and older farmers often have less developed digital skills, and are therefore generally less likely to adopt ICTs.Digital literacy in rural institutions and communities should be developed and enhanced, taking into consideration local needs and constraints by providing appropriate learning opportunities for men, women, youth and people with disabilities, which will enhance individual and collective decision-making skills.
Social norms, lack of connectivity and poverty are some of the reasons that rural women have less access to ICTs. Digital inclusion policies should take gender into account to enable men and women to access ICTs equally.
3. Be gender sensitive.
Gender inequalities remain a serious issue in the digital economy, as does the gap between urban and rural populations. Access and opportunities for women, youth, older farmers and people living in the most remote areas is hindered by the price of access to ICTs, and by persistent inequalities.Many of the factors that constrain male farmers in adopting more sustainable and productive practices restrict women to an even greater extent. Specific gender barriers further limit women farmers’ capacity to innovate and become more productive. Gender, youth and diversity should be systematically addressed in the planning phase of project design and during the whole project cycle.
4. Provide them with access and tools for sharing.
Rural women have less access to ICTs – the phones, the laptops, the Wi-Fi – because they are confronted with social norms, because they are living in unconnected areas, and because they are usually poor. The price of access to ICTs can be very high in some countries. Pricing of broadband or mobile services is a significant barrier for most vulnerable groups, such as women, youth, older farmers and people living in the most remote areas. Digital inclusion policies with gender perspectives should be promoted to enable men and women to access and use ICTs equally.
5. Build partnerships.
Small, local private companies, local producer organizations and community-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) often have the social capital to provide trusted information and good quality services. Diverse advisory and extension services offered by different types of providers are more likely to meet the various needs of farmers, as there is no single type of service that can fit all circumstances.
Gender inequalities remain a serious issue in the digital economy, as does the gap between urban and rural populations. Identifying the right mix of technologies and strategies that are gender-sensitive and suited to local needs is critical to increasing farm efficiency and revenues.
6. Provide the right blend of technologies
Identifying the right mix of technologies that are suited to local needs and contexts is often a challenge, in spite of – or because of – the rapid increase in mobile telephone penetration in rural areas. Blended approaches, such as a combination of radio and telephone, and locally relevant technologies selected on the basis of in-depth analysis of local needs and existing information systems, should be adopted to increase the efficiency of initiatives for ICT in agriculture, and better serve different users and contexts.
7. Ensure sustainability.
The digital divide is not only concerned with technological infrastructure and connectivity. It is critical that ICT initiatives target both women and men, as well as the larger family unit and the community to ensure long-term sustainability. An inclusive approach to ICT initiatives will help to generate widespread recognition that it is important for women to be able to use ICTs.ICTs offer valuable opportunities for agricultural and rural development, increasing sustainable output, farm and agribusiness efficiency and revenues for a wide range of players. Access of women to information and education can also increase acceptance for sending both daughters and sons to school, which will have a greater impact, and increase the chances of reducing poverty and achieving a world without hunger.
Truth in the Time of Chaos
Jordan Bernt Peterson (born June 12, 1962) is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. His main areas of study are in abnormal, social, and personality psychology, with a particular interest in the psychology of religious and ideological belief, and the assessment and improvement of personality and performance
Psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson has come to fame, or notoriety depending on your perspective, over the last year. But many of those attracted to his attacks on political correctness are saying that he is one of the world’s most significant thinkers – why? Rebel Wisdom investigates a man who is redefining spiritual and religious thought for the internet generation.
Jordan Peterson: Truth in the Time of Chaos
The Future Now Show
Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges – sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we’re making – and what we need, from strategy to vision – to make the best ones.
Shape the future now, where near-future impact counts and visions and strategies for preferred futures start.
Do we rise above global challenges? Or do we succumb to them? The Future Now Show explores how we can shape our future now – where near-future impact counts. We showcase strategies and solutions that create futures that work.
Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges – sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we’re making – and what we need, from strategy to vision – to make the best ones.
Foresight Future of the Sea
A Report from the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, UK Government Office for Science
This report considers the role that science and technology can play in understanding and providing solutions to the long-term issues affecting the sea. It outlines a number of recommendations to help the UK utilise its current expertise and technological strengths to foster trade links, build marine capacity across the world and collaborate to tackle climate change.
The sea covers 70% of the world’s surface and is essential to regulating global temperature, water, and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Technological advances are creating new opportunities to understand the sea, its resources and the effects of climate change.We carried out a Foresight project to consider the role that science and technology can play in understanding and providing solutions to the long-term issues affecting the sea. The project worked with policy-makers to identify the most important future trends, challenges and opportunities for the UK from the sea.It focused on the following areas:
resources and economic potential of the sea
governance of the sea
download the Report
News about the Future
Project Drawdown is the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. Our organization did not make or devise the plan — we found the plan because it already exists. We gathered a qualified and diverse group of researchers from around the world to identify, research, and model the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change. What was uncovered is a path forward that can roll back global warming within thirty years. It shows that humanity has the means at hand. Nothing new needs to be invented. The solutions are in place and in action. Our work is to accelerate the knowledge and growth of what is possible. We chose the name Drawdown because if we do not name the goal, we are unlikely to achieve it.
Drawdown is based on meticulous research that maps, measures, models, and describes the most substantive solutions to global warming that already exist. It is the most important goal for humanity to undertake.
Laying Down the Groundwork for a Knowledge-Led Society: Policy and Practice
White paper by AIMS / Robert Bosch Stiftung
Africa is a continent with a growing consumer base, entrepreneurial ambition and homegrown innovation. With more than 314 active technology hubs in 93 cities in 42 countries in Africa, entrepreneurs on the continent are innovating in every sector from education and health to agriculture and energy, be it products or services.
How a New World-view will emerge from Industry 4.0
by Mark Timberlake
Analytics | BI | Digital | Mobile Applications | IoT | Senior Project Manager, Sydney, Australia
Are we on the cusp of a new World-view or global employment tsunami?
Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and other recent tech innovations are forecast to impact up to 50% of Global employment. And this time it could be different from previous Industrial revolutions.
If Artificial Intelligence and Robotics displace humans on a mass scale then the human in human society becomes marginalised; this could be the legacy that we leave to the future.
In recent years there have been major advances in several technology areas that collectively have been labelled Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 will have an impact in two ways that will affect us all; employment, and information privacy and security. Through this article, I hope to raise awareness of the impact of Industry 4.0, and how serious it will be.
Industry 4.0 will have a Dramatic Global Impact on Employment
Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Analytics, and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are some of the Industry 4.0 technologies. These technologies are at an advanced stage of understanding and development. It has become clear that these technologies can be combined and applied to a wide range of industrial, commercial and social applications. What has also become clear is that, over the next few years, the large scale application of these technologies will have a significant global impact upon employment, economies, and society.
In the next section, I suggest that the global impacts upon employment, global pollution, and climate change share a common set of underlying causes; these causes include the nature of technological developments, and some ‘structural’ issues in our society. I will try to outline some reasons as to why I feel that the impact of Industry 4.0 should be carefully considered.
Structural Issues in Our Society Will Accelerate the Impact of Industry 4.0
Scientific, technological and industrial developments have frequently involved side-effects, and trade-offs that have had global scale impacts on our environment and society; for example, plastics, power stations and the internal combustion engine have had the side effects of global pollution, and climate change.
The prevailing paradigm in our society is based on exploitation:
– Scientific, technological and industrial developments involve side-effects, and trade-offs that have had global scale impacts on our environment and society.
– Regardless, both Industry and Governments have incorporated these innovations in short-sighted policy decisions, and short-sighted commercial gain.
– Responses to issues have been reactive, not proactively managed. And typically the issues have been dumped on governments frequently unable to deal with them.
There have been published views that Industry 4.0 technologies applied on a global scale could have non-linear flow on effects upon other industries, economic sectors, and countries.
Governments, Industry and societies seem dangerously focused on the short term. We have not approached the management of our society in a long term holistic way.
What are the effects on society when significant, multi- industry scale disruptions are unfolding, and with potentially non-linear cascading effects on other industrial and economic systems? And for industries dominated by siloed, reductionist thinking, those disruptions will have amplified effect.
I would like to weaken the automatic nexus between new technology innovations and solutions to global problems which were largely the result of technology side-effects and trade-off. I see that nexus as a concern in the case of Industry 4.0
If we pause for a moment to reflect on these issues we open ourselves to new understanding and new possibilities. In the next section I suggest that our future direction may be found in new transcendent levels of awareness of our society and its issues.
How Integral Theory Opens a New Perspective on Our Future
Developments in Integral Theory present a framework for the development of human consciousness, society, and civilisation. Within the context of Integral Theory is the idea of the emergent evolution of consciousness and culture. Civilisations develop from one world-view to a more expanded world-view, in concert with the evolution of human consciousness. So for example, the Mythical world gave way to an expanded level of human consciousness and the ‘Age of Reason’.
Each transition was driven by an evolution of our consciousness that enlarged our understanding of society, its structures, limitations, power relations, and issues. These transitions are irreversible; there is no possibility of returning to the mythical world-view. The transitions involve a paradigm shift. Now emerging, there is a new transcendent level of understanding that recognizes that the tools of the current world-view will not resolve the issues of the day. Historically, social progress at scale has been driven by new perspectives and values that underpinned a totally new world-view. Scholars have recognized (since early last century) that this shift in the evolution in our consciousness has been developing for some time.
The sources of many of today’s issues can be found in the amoral nature of scientific and technological developments, and industry; and the frequent adverse impacts of these developments to our environment, to employment, to our society at large.
Science and technology have no moral or social consciousness drivers. Developments in science and technology are greatly influenced by ego, competitive pressures, and a simplistic belief in progress. Many scientific ‘advances’ involve side-effects, or trade-offs (typically mass scale impacts on other people); they are not absolute advances, but often shift the problem around: ‘solving’ one issue by creating another. Further, science and technology are instruments that are easily and routinely incorporated into abuses of power (social, economic, political).
The suggestion that AI could help solve complex global problems ignores history, and does not address the fundamental causes. First, it suffers from the fallacy that scientific, technological and industrial developments constitute absolute progress that can be applied to the issues of the day; we have serious global unemployment and environmental problems because of technology innovations that have been unleashed on a global scale. Second, the fundamental causes of our issues today are structural problems in our society.
So, Integral Theory suggests that we should recognize the structural issues in our society, and look for solutions in new perspectives and values, a totally new transcendent world-view. We need to be more reflective about the issues in society. If technology is being applied on a mass scale regardless of side-effects, and involves trade-offs then we need to rethink.
You might still wonder just how relevant this is to the impact of AI and Robotics on jobs. Well, I believe that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the downfall of the Berlin Wall are examples of the social progress at scale I mentioned. In these two situations, there appeared to be a mass alignment of people and their Collective Consciousness; the old paradigms were swept away.
The Future of Humanity Institute has just published the Asilomar A.I. Principles; 23 guiding principles for the development of Artificial Intelligence. This could develop into a proactive form of global governance relating to AI and Robotics which is what I suggest in the conclusion of this article. And it could be another expression of our shift in global consciousness.
In the title of this article I suggest that a new world-view will emerge out of Industry 4.0; either because the shift in our consciousness to a new level becomes global soon, or because of a global reaction to mass job loss accelerates that change.
Industry 4.0 will impact Information Privacy and Security
There are moves to provide ‘open’ access to customer data stored by banks. Banks hold a significant amount of confidential information about their customers. When a customer applies for a home loan, or insurance, from a bank, they are NOT offering open access to their confidential details.
Whether banks voluntarily offer, or a forced by legislation, providing open access to customer data is an abuse of power, facilitated by the ease with which technological possibility can be appropriated for that purpose. That abuse of power over customer data cascades further, for example: the risk of fraud rises, and the risk of data being stolen increases, and so, the associated risk and cost are transferred to the customer; and since, more customer data is openly available, more of it is assumed to be available BY DEFAULT to Digital Identity, Digital Wallets, Digital Profiles, Digital Attestation ‘services’, IoT devices that can identify you and retrieve your open customer details. And because of this default availability, individuals are increasingly imposed upon to ‘opt-out’; however, over time the option to opt-out is gradually removed by either legislation, or because it becomes wide-spread practise. Some European countries are already considering moves to a cashless society; there will be no opt-out option.
The US Company Oculus VR has already claimed the right to your biometric data that its devices can capture.
How Industry 4.0 will Impact Global Employment
The incorporation of technology in the abuse of economic power has delivered a global mass scale loss of jobs. The global loss of jobs will likely accelerate, because, for example, when a factory retrenches its workforce due to, say, automation, it has a negative effect on the surrounding economy, and suppliers to that factory.
The spread of Industry 4.0 will likely accelerate global mass scale job loss; not only will people lose their jobs, but those jobs will simply disappear. So, it is irrelevant where the factory is located because Robotic Process Automation, IoT, Digital Transformation and all other technology innovations that constitute Industry 4.0 will vapourize jobs as we know them.
This is not about education, or retraining redundant workers; the jobs simply will not be there. Of course, there will be specialist jobs, but even many of these will disappear as technology innovation encroaches into each and every field of human endeavour.
The transitions of economies from agriculture to manufacturing to services to high technology has influenced economies to expand, employment has increased in absolute terms.
In the move from agriculture to manufacturing there is an increase in the number of jobs. Why? Because Manufacturing requires human capabilities not used in agriculture, such as; planning, design, forecasting, and other specialist skills. That is, latent human capability was activated and made economically valuable and productive.
But, is that trend guaranteed? With the advent of Industry 4.0, is it clear where people may have a role? It is not clear what role for people if Robots can perform manufacturing, and process tasks, and AI can answer the phone, perform design activities, solve problems, predict, and make inferences, etc. The set of human activities that only humans can perform is shrinking. With the previous economic transitions the full range of human capabilities were engaged in an economically productive way. This time with Industry 4.0, technology innovations are acquiring those economically useful capabilities to the extent that the human role is uncertain. If people have a future role, it will likely be highly specialised, advanced analytical, or creative. But, that is not going to guarantee employment for the majority, at all.
AI and Robotics will replace Humans
In the case of Augmented Reality (AR) headsets deployment, the maturity of this technology, leading to human replacement, might evolve through four stages:
The first level might provide or display detailed, step by step instructions in the AR headset.
The second stage provides confirmation; for example, the visual display in your AR headset shows readings that confirm success of the task.
The third stage generates analytics; for example, showing the last time maintenance was performed and what the results were.
The fourth stage then would be to build the AR headset capability into a robot.
Low skilled jobs are the easier to displace since they have a lower creative element, involve lower decision making, and a lesser degree of analytical processing. Substantial cost efficiency can be achieved through mass scale jobs displacement. Low skilled process jobs are especially easy targets for replacement by Robotics.
The displacement path for white collar workers is more difficult because of the degree of skill specialisation, the high degree of decision making, and the high level of analytical processing involved. The likely first stage would involve partial automation of their job by implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) aimed at automating the routine components of their job. This is happening now, but it requires a non-trivial amount of analysis to identify, specify and encode the relevant business logic, workflow, decision / escalation points, etc.; and this must be repeated for each job type.
How Significant is the Impact on Global Employment
A recent article contained a forecast that by 2020 more than 3 million truck drivers in the US will be displaced by self drive vehicles.
The US Robotics Industries Association (RIA) estimates that more than 265,000 robotics installations are currently deployed at factories across the US. China and Japan have considerably more robotics deployments.
Studies at The Centre for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University suggested that between 2000 and 2010, 5.6 million manufacturing jobs were lost, where 85 percent of these losses were due to technology developments. Currently, robots have replaced approximately 10 percent of manufacturing jobs, and this could rise to 25 percent by 2025.
Japan also has the worlds first ‘Autonomous Corporation’, that is, it operates with no operational personnel. To be clear, these are deliberate human replacing initiatives.
In a recent report, the World Economic Forum predicted that robotic automation will yield a net loss of more than 5 million jobs across 15 developed nations by 2020 which is considered a conservative estimate. And the International Labour Organization estimates that as many as 137 million jobs across Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are at risk of replacement by robots. This represents approximately 56% of the total workforce of these countries.
That displacement could happen quickly and before affected governments wake up to what is happening. There will be no noticeable impact until some critical level of jobs displacement has been reached; that is, due to a lag effect governments probably will not notice for some time. The impact on those countries will not be immediately felt in Europe or the US, and may not even be noticed until regional chaos becomes a global issue.
Again, because there will be a lag before any effect is noticeable, no one will probably notice, especially governments. So, there will be a significant global impact because of the fragmented geographic / economic sector nature of this jobs displacement, the lag effect before any noticeable impact, and assuming that governments have no proactive governance framework in place.
All countries will be affected by jobs displacement due to process automation and robotics, and that impact will be significant.
Our Future Lies in a New World-View
As a society we need to understand Industry 4.0 and its impact on employment, and how society and economies are going to function when the number of people with jobs is a small minority of the population. I feel that our issues today are structural; we need to embrace a new transcendent level of awareness of our society, new values and perspectives; and not just blindly roll-out the red carpet for Industry 4.0
Possibly one thing that is missing is a ‘Social Responsibility Contract’ which takes into account the total cost to society (for example, the cost of unemployment that governments typically have to carry) that results from the adoption of technology enabled practices.
New forms and levels of local and global governance may help to facilitate proactive management of developments in our global community. New global perspectives and values that enable us to rise above environmental and social exploitation are desperately needed.
AI, Robotics and the other Industry 4.0 technologies must be subject to Global Governance. The significant potential of these technologies individually and in combination demands that they be considered within the human context of their development, deployment, use, side-effects, trade-offs, scenarios of misuse, appropriation in abuses of power, and proscribed paths of development and application.
The world is already struggling with the well understood issues of global governance of Climate Change and Nuclear weapons. To me it is clear that, under the current paradigm, we do not have the maturity to develop global governance of Industry 4.0 technologies which is genuine and unconstrained by trade-offs and political deals, and which gives primacy to considerations of human benefits without side-effects and trade-offs.
Our record with most important developments does not suggest serious in-depth reflection at a holistic level, in which we recognize all interdependent relations, the relativeness of benefits, the delayed nature of adverse findings, and the risk of overlooking fundamental subjective assumptions behind decisions and paths taken.
The dominant mode of thinking today embodies simplistic notions of scientific / technological progress; it is reductionist and siloed. This mode of thinking has stripped away the complexities and subtlety of holistic thinking in favour of absolutes; and so, it fosters the numerous uncritical evangelical praises of AI, Robotics and Industry 4.0.
We all know of the Pied Piper of Hamelin; even sweet music can have a sinister intent.
A recently published essay attempted to expose the lie behind automation, technology, and efficiency drives. The author mentioned the naked contingency of the lives of low paid workers subject to ever increasing demands by business for consolidation and efficiency; that contingency manifest, for example, in personal budgets, and childcare.
The author continued his theme by taking up the toilet paper dispenser that restricts the amount of paper that can be retrieved to the extent that actual utility is compromised; justified by the ruse of ‘saving the trees’, but in truth, an expression of cost efficiency and contempt.
There seems to be a Human / Technology Ledger: new increments of technology are added to other layers of technology to improve on anti-human objectives such as efficiency; however, on the opposite side of the ledger, for each increment of technology added there is a subtle debasement of human values. So in the example of low paid workers, social responsibility, and human nurturing are degraded; with the second example, social consciousness is eroded.
I welcome your comments on this important topic
Living Well Now and in the Future: Why Sustainability Matters
by Ellen Metzger and Randall Curren
Most people acknowledge the profound importance of sustainability, but few can define it. We are ethically bound to live sustainably for the sake of future generations, but what does that mean? In this book Randall Curren, a philosopher, and Ellen Metzger, a scientist, clarify normative aspects of sustainability. Combining their perspectives, they propose that sustainability can be understood as the art of living well together without diminishing opportunity to live well in the future.
Curren and Metzger lay out the nature and value of sustainability, survey the problems, catalog the obstacles, and identify the kind of efforts needed to overcome them. They formulate an ethic of sustainability with lessons for government, organizations, and individuals, and illustrate key ideas with three case studies. Curren and Metzger put intergenerational justice at the heart of sustainability; discuss the need for fair (as opposed to coercive) terms of cooperation to create norms, institutions, and practices conducive to sustainability; formulate a framework for a fundamental ethic of sustainability derived from core components of common morality; and emphasize the importance of sustainability education. The three illustrative case studies focus on the management of energy, water, and food systems, examining the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Australia’s National Water Management System, and patterns of food production in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia.
The World In 2050 The Real Future Of Earth
Full BBC Documentary 2018
Futurist Portrait: Jean-Christophe Bonis
The future is the basis of his career, yet he is never without his trusty backpack as he travels across the globe. With a passion for innovation and technology, Jean-Christophe is an adventurer of modern times.
Lecturer, writer, nomad, blogger, coach, eternal hunter of innovative projects, tireless traveler… Jean-Christophe is a confirmed expert who travels the world, pitching his tent and advocating a new world focused on user experience. An expert in new technologies, he worked for more than 15 years on behalf of investment funds and then as a consultant. He has devoted his professional life to analyzing the consequences new technologies have had on consumer behavior and strategic implications in organizations. Founder and President of Oxymore Inc., he is also deeply engaged in the international startup ecosystem.
A true futurist, he is totally committed to his clients through the prism of user experience and brand values. Whether it is for the creation of new products, customer relationship, digitization of businesses or the anticipation of new technological breakthroughs, his unrivalled vision supports the teams involved throughout the various business sectors. Jean-Christophe also provides coaching for executive leaders, advising major companies and startups in France and abroad. Acting as a mentor in Europe, Russia and Asia, he also is involved in several business-incubator and booster programs. A real showman, his lectures will blow your mind and beliefs and broaden your outlook. Get ready for a real tornado!
The future of humans in a digital world
InSIGHT: Future Talk with Alexander Mankowsky