He who owns information— owns the world

Francis Bacon

Only a couple generations ago, it was thought that in no less than 100 years, every person will carry around a personal phone, capable of finding required information in the global network in seconds. Tenacious scientific-technological development has already changed the visionary. Today, the high life class, which is first and foremost the usage of technologies and access to information and not physical prosperity and resources like it is used to be. Suddenly, humanity has been confronted with the threat of a new inequality, called „digital divide“.

While some people have the unlimited access to any information, the other people are not even aware of the existence of a number of new technologies. The reasons for this separation may be financial, geographical, social and more…

„Digital“ life class: two poles of one problem

It is easy to find the description of the perfect future in science fiction and in efforts of futurists. According to it, a person’s life is comfortable, since all his needs and wants can be satisfied with the help and wonders of technology. Smart streets and houses, furniture and dishes, school desks and medical rooms in clinics know the citizens’ needs and immediately provide them with the necessities. Do not try to imagine this wonder— witness it yourself.

South Pole

Digital divide: two sides of the technological precipice
Unsplash: Xio Tiamung

Songdo — a city built only in 12 years. It is located on an artificial island, 50 km away from the Southern Korean capital city, Seoul. Ideal urban planning, architectural style, fully automated life support of the city, as well as innovative energy conservation and alternative energy make Songdo a city of the future. Today, the number of the city’s residents is only 45 thousand and about 55 thousand travel to Songdo for work.

Implementation of the Songdo project cost $ 35 billion. The city is built at the expense of the largest in the history of private investment in real estate. The main investors are such large American companies as Gale International and Morgan Stanley. The effectuation of the project involves such technological giants as Cisco, 3M and United Technology.

Cisco provided the network with each section of the city. Roads, streets, buildings – all urban elements are equipped with sensors that continuously transmit information to the central office. The analysis of absolutely all data relating to the city— the state of buildings, the need for energy, the temperature outside buildings and inside, the condition of roads is round-the-clock.

The infrastructure of Songdo is based on network technologies that integrate all operational systems into a single whole. Indicators on electronic road signs indicate the situation on the road. Motion sensors on the sidewalks provide street illumination when needed.

Residents can remotely regulate lighting and air conditioning in their home, turning household appliances on and off. Smart pneumatic garbage chutes manage not only to reclaim, but also to sort the waste correctly. Most urban vehicles are equipped with electric or hydrogen engines.

North Pole

Digital divide: two sides of the technological precipice
Ny Times: North Korea

Meanwhile, in North Korea, about 180 km from Songdo…

The population of the country is more than 25 million people. On average, a resident of North Korea earns about $ 20 a month. Only high government officials use Internet access. A total of about 1500 IP-addresses are active in the country.

For most North Koreans, only local media are available as sources of information. At the same time, all newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations are under the absolute control of the state, and therefore are subject to censorship.

Since 2000, the national information network Kvanmen has been operating in North Korea. It is something like an Internet substitute for a particular country. It has about 5,000 websites and approximately 100,000 users. In addition to propaganda materials, neutral articles of scientific content are also found on the web. Students and university teachers communicate only at several forums. North Koreans who use the local “pseudo-Internet”, go into it through mobile devices. The computer is a luxury item even for university teachers.

Two twenty-year-old polytechnic students from Songdo and Pyongyang can be cousins. Having met after 10 years, they will speak the same language, but hardly one will easily understand what the other says.

Digital Medicine

Digital divide: two sides of the technological precipice
Unsplash: Daniel Frank

Comfort and access to education are important. But there is something even more important.

English and American scientists based at Oxford University have created a new computer program. It looks through and studies billions of chemical compounds, finding those that can be used to treat cancer.

To run this program, you need a virtual computer-giant, which will consist of tens of thousands of real computers connected via the Internet.

One even the most powerful computer will solve this problem for several decades. Ed Hubbard, the representative of United Devices, a US company working on the project, said: “Using a variety of computers via the Internet, we, scientists, are embarking on projects that we simply could not think of before“

About 17% of Americans are already monitoring their health by using special mobile applications. Basically, these are people over 40 with serious illnesses. They need digital gadgets for round-the-clock monitoring of pressure, pulse, blood sugar level and other indicators. Having received alarming data, the devices warn about the need for urgent hospitalization.

In the US and Japan, systems are being developed that will allow doctors to receive patients online.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan …

The average life expectancy in the country is about 45 years. Tuberculosis affects 30% of the inhabitants of the country. Of the 1,000 newborns, about 16 die at once. Out of 100,000 mothers, 1,700 die after childbirth. There are constant outbreaks of cholera and typhoid.

2% of Afghans suffer from blindness, due to the fact that they have not received treatment in the early stages of the disease. Annually, 300 000 people need operations for the removal of cataract. But there are about 6 thousand operations.

Approximately 6 million people are absolutely deprived of medical care and do not have access to medical centers.

Digital Economics and Politics

Digital divide: two sides of the technological precipice
Freepik: Light trails above buildings at night in China.

The birth of a unique technology blockchain was the beginning of a new phase of the digital revolution. Today, blockchain is best known as a technology, thanks to which there is bitcoin and other digital currencies.

Free and anonymous transactions, instant money transfers, the ability to extract digital gold with computer programs and raise your revenues would be enough to call the technology revolutionary. But the possibilities of the block are much bigger.

In fact, the potential of technology is able to radically change people’s visualization not only of money, but also of the role of government structures in their lives.

The distributed database in the blockchain provides authenticity of any data without intermediaries. Think about it: banks, registry offices, property registers, notary offices— all these are governmental or private intermediaries who control the purity and legitimacy of all actions, with greater or less success. Just imagine that the need for such control will no longer be existent. Or visualize how in a few years we will observe the online voting process at the elections.

And this is not fiction: the projects of transition to digital systems of governmental regulation already exist and are successfully applied for example, in Estonia. It has a chance to become the first country in the world to win the bureaucracy.

So we, perhaps, will see how high technologies will stand up for the protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms. But they will be able to protect only those who have access to these technologies.

Digital Inequalities

Digital divide: two sides of the technological precipice
Unsplash: Sergey Zolkin

So, access to computer technology is a necessary condition for success in the information society. This should be physical and economic access, that is, the presence of necessary tools and the ability to freely buy a computer or mobile device.

In addition, it is essential for every person to have free internet access. This requires the uninterrupted operation of telecommunications networks wherever people live. But this is not enough.

People should be able to use modern technology. Conducting the internet to remote areas can only be expensive. But those who today do not have an idea of digital devices, after a while will have to overcome themselves and break their imagination of the world in order to catch up with progress.

All those who master new technologies will have great opportunities for their education, professional growth, improvement of living standards and well-being. They will have a huge advantage over those who for one reason or another can not use these technologies.

Technical innovation creates about 15% of the world’s inhabitants. Approximately half the world’s population is able to use these inventions. The rest is waiting for the lot of the unemployed or heavy physical labor.

And the longer this situation persists, the more likely the digital divide will be insurmountable. Technologies created for people can become an indirect cause of the greatest injustice.

But by spreading information about technical innovations, teaching others how to use them, we can decrease the digital divide and all together enter the new era. This is what inspires the company Platin Genesis DMCC, which takes on a high mission: to popularize the blockchain and make complex technologies available to everyone.