A lot about people and a bit about IT


Special Project at Novoye Vremya

So, the IT industry. A hot topic, isn’t it? We are monitoring changes in evaluations of technological companies almost for the sport of it, discuss the life of IT billionaires (7 out of 10 global richest people are associated with IT), and witness the space race of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson with great enthusiasm.

Life is fast: we see the IT industry the way it is today in the flow of news and quotations. There is no time to look back and analyse how we got here, how the technologies changed our daily habits as well as politics, safety and society.

How can you look into the future and make predictions if for the last 50 years it had become obvious: everything changes, and tomorrow brings something that you could not even consider yesterday?

IT is no longer merely production, sales, and market. It is the new reality where our daily habits and consumption models change. It makes our daily life more comfortable and simplifies the use of things and services. For instance, Uber has dramatically changed our idea of a taxi, and Zakaz.ua has given a new method to purchase ordinary products (yes, it is not very modest of me).

Moreover, IT and technologies have also influenced social rather than physical structures in a broader sense.

A 100 years ago power and wealth were associated with rulers, land, industrial, and oil tycoons. We have developed a certain image of a person who has wealth and power. These are generally cruel people who are capable of physically destroying their competitors. They are surrounded by luxurious estates, vehicle fleets containing 20 Rolls-Royce cars, gems, and expensive jewellery.

We have hardly noticed how the “well-established” image of a wealthy and powerful person has been replaced by the new mentality of billionaires: people of technologies and services, people from the IT industry. They are young, wear plain H&M t-shirts, charter a plane with ease, and travel to Kathmandu or Lima in search of new impressions and experience. They fly to space and develop plans where vanity, ego, and dreams of a better future are intertwined. And most importantly, they are setting new benchmarks for the society, for the new generation.

However, it would be a mistake to believe that such people are a humble rich simpletons who had a stroke of luck in the past or to see only that visible part of their life which is so interesting to read of. That is a harsh and often non-democratic business where KPIs leave no room for taking a liking to just good guys, and where success and luck result from persistent efforts.

We have to understand and accept the fact that the IT companies and their senior executives take on  challenges (or pose threats!) not only from their business competitors. Disclosing users’ confidential information to the intelligence services of a certain country is a complicated matter, isn’t it?

Or, say, the service was planned as a commercial project, but turned into a participant of political struggle: is there a room for political sympathies, and how not to mix them up with values - it is difficult to stay aside, since almost all the members of open societies have their political preferences.

If you consider the fact that water supply depends not only on people wearing orange vests, but also the software code which could be vulnerable to cyberattacks, will there be more reasons for anxiety disorders?

Society might not have given the mandate to the IT and people there to be almost (for now) in charge of these matters, but it has already happened.

Today we have an unprecedented level of openness and speed of exchange of information at all levels. It is practically impossible to hide. This is good: we receive information on events at the far end of the planet in a matter of seconds. Business and politics are getting more transparent and, therefore, more responsible.

However, unverified information or misinformation is distributed via the same channels. It damages safety both at the domestic and global levels. It is often hard to see a difference between FAct and FAke without analysis. The analysis is a hard, long, and complex process, it is much easier to scroll through the newsfeed. Yet, there is definitely a public demand for a solution to his issue. Perhaps such solution could be offered by IT.

It is a continuous cycle: new technologies create unexpected consequences and change expectations and standards for newer technologies, while addressing their unpredicted risks require various solutions.

It would be wrong to think that it is a matter of far future for Ukraine. We welcome the use of convenient IT services without limitation to national borders, and our IT business has a global appetite. However, risks require no visa as well.

Balance of opportunities and risks is a dynamic point that drastically depends on morality and ethics.

Economic, technological, moral and ethical changes may appear only in a certain environment that encourages such changes. Such environment does not appear out of the blue. It requires investments in high-quality education, free competition, balanced regulation and a really broad discussion of moral and ethical standards in the development and use of IT technologies at the global level.