Answering the important questions on digitalization

Digitalization is progressing at a high pace. What will this mean for us? Will we lose our jobs and be replaced by robots? Do we all have to become programming geeks? How can we have a constructive political debate if everyone is presented only the information he wants to see?

Our member economiesuisse and the Think Tank W.I.R.E. have published a study titled “Future of the digital Switzerland” answering these questions by providing a deep insight into the impact of digitalization. Here are the key take aways:

The challenges from the digital wave

Digital Transformation brings, as all revolutions do, several uncertainties with it. The study conducted the four main challenges of our future:

  • Complexity: With the raising options the degree of complexity increases. The countless new possibilities resulting from data generation and measurement may turn out to be a not manageable excessive demand.
  • Similarity: Digitalized processes reduce failure and optimize products and services. This could lead to very similar outcomes. While the lack of distinction puts companies at risk, digitalization could have negative consequences on an individual level, also. In medical sector for example, the standardization and increased measurability would create a sharp line between healthy and sick people, unleashing grounds for social exclusion.
  • Social bubbles: Social networks connect individuals. But at the same time the underlying algorithms suggest only incumbent relations and filter information along our interests. This can lead to a fragmentation of society and blind spots.
  • Lack of control: Security level raises as our decisions in medicine, economy etc. are more data based. At the same time, raising number of cyberattacks show an increased exposure to data losses and show the need for respective actions.

Switzerland’s track record when overcoming challenges

Switzerland has always excelled at overcoming structural changes. Historically, Switzerland successfully transformed to a service nation, leaving agriculture and textile industry behind. Still, salaries are high and unemployment rate is one of the lowest world-wide. The threatening machines have become a substantial part of our economy’s wealth. The study conducts that openness, self-responsibility, community spirit, diversity and consensus culture are the factors that helped Switzerland become one of the most competitive countries – no matter what trend the world has gone through. Remaining this “DNA” will set the fundament for the transformation towards a digital Switzerland.

What we do next

Impact for the state

The state has to take action about the level of its involvement. The study proposes a rather restrictive involvement regarding regulatory management of data security and consumer protection, as this could limit the individuals’ and the private economy’s freedom. Instead, the basic idea about how algorithms are allowed to make their decisions or who owns the data have to be set, leaving preferences about personal data processing on an individual level.

The study further states that the government is required to provide basic infrastructure and maintain the competitiveness of the tax and social system. They also show the risk of setting wrong incentives with an unconditioned income as they are convinced that new jobs will be created requiring a working population.

digitalswitzerland presented its Digital Manifesto for Switzerland at the beginning of this year to Federal Council Johann Schneider-Ammann. At the moment the Digital Manifesto is starting point for the Digital Action Plan for Switzerland in which concrete implementation projects are developed from the economy and academia in coordination with the Federal Administration.

Impact for the economy

To overcome the challenges resulting from digitalization know-how and resources have to be shared. That’s why ecosystems and networks across companies and science become more important.

Within our digitalswitzerland  challenge, digitalswitzerland is matching corporates with academia, politics and startups to place a big bet on projects bringing society forward.

Impact for Individuals

Developing digital competencies is an important factor. Even though a raising number of programmers will be needed in the future, this does not mean that everyone has to become an IT specialist. Public schools should provide the population with a basic digital skill set. Understanding digitalization and how algorithms function enables a conscious personal data management and the participation in an open public debate. Since in the future more repetitive tasks will be performed by robots, jobs will require more human skills such as creativity, problem solving or critical thinking.

With the platform educationdigital.ch (learn digital skills) and our Summercamps for kids next generation, digitalswitzerland is inviting everyone to learn the skills of the future.

Check out the brochure on the study here. From page 50 onwards you can find some amazing illustrations of our future.

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