On digital transformation, Madzou says that it poses significant challenges for our society, but that there is no need to panic about replacing certain jobs with robots. "We know as least since Plato that every technology has a dual nature; meaning that it could be a ‘remedy’ as envisioned by the technophiles or a ‘poison’ as feared by the ‘technophobes’. The only question that matters is what tips the balance? A good ethical design. This means that as we improve our technical capabilities, we have to think carefully about where and how we deploy them for the greater good.”
Between 2013 and 2015 he founded Propind.com, a web solution aimed at helping political parties to mobilize their supporters during campaigns. In 2016, he joined the French Digital Council as a Policy Officer, where his team supervises the creation of a European Agency for Trust in the Digital Economy in charge of regulating Online Platforms and enforcing fairness in their behavior.
According to the interview he gave to the Sector Dialogues, Madzou thinks that Brazil should invest a lot in digital transformation. However, he says that: "Despite the challenges currently faced by Brazil, it would be a mistake to consider the digital transformation solely through a development lens… Instead, it would be useful to fund detailed research on the Brazilian digital ecosystem to produce evidence-based digital strategies”.
Check out the complete interview from Madzou that talks about ICT Week, the digital transformation in Brazil and other subjects.
Sector Dialogues - After the 2nd Edition of the ICT Week, what do you think about this thematic event and the importance to continue with coming editions? Is Innovation and Digital Transformation a key issue to be follow up addressed within the EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership?
Madzou - I think that the digital transformation is a critical topic for the Future of Brazil because ICTs are posed to fundamentally affect every area of society, including, public services, education, healthcare, financial services and so forth. Currently, the biggest market actors are American companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft). They have a significant influence on the experience of millions of Brazilian Internet users and operate as critical market access points for local entrepreneurs. Such dominance could adversely affect social and economic welfare. To reduce it, the government should act on two levers: investment and regulation. Through partnerships with the private sector, it should invest to foster an ecosystem which enables the development of Brazilian technology companies. Meanwhile, it should also tackle the various policy issues brought about by the digital transformation and consider for instance how to effectively protect the privacy of Internet users in a data-driven environment? How to maintain a healthy Brazilian public sphere online? Or, how to encourage innovation? These are global challenges and as such must be addressed through international cooperation. For Brazil, the first step of this endeavour is to be part of the global discussion about ICT regulation. From this perspective, the ICT week is a very promising step forward, so keep it up. Further, the wealth of these exchanges during this second edition has revealed important points of convergence between the EU and Brazil; most notably regarding digital inclusion. Indeed, if the future is digital, as it seems to be, it should not widen inequalities.
Sector Dialogues – What can we expect regarding Innovation and Digital Transformation worldwide? Is it assume as a risk or a challenge in order to be replaced by robots in most functions in the future?
Madzou – I usually don’t like to make predictions because the future is often more imaginative than we think. Yet, all the evidence suggests that our dependence on ICTs, both the EU and in Brazil is going to grow, especially with the development of artificial intelligence. This technology has the potential to revolutionise our lives, but it is also a source of anxiety for many people who are afraid to lose their jobs. In this debate, two camps are very vocal: the 'technophiles' and 'technophobes'. The former describes a promising future where human beings will be freed from meaningless jobs, involving repetitive tasks perceived as alienating. By entrusting these tasks to machines, they could focus on more humanising tasks that require curiosity, interpersonal skills and empathy. The latter predicts a social shock that will put dozens or even hundreds of millions of people out of work. In both cases, technical progress alone seems to determine the future of the labour market. In my opinion, this is a simplistic view. Indeed, we know as least since Plato that every technology has a dual nature; meaning that it could be a ‘remedy’ as envisioned by the technophiles or a ‘poison’ as feared by the ‘technophobes’. The only question that matters is what tips the balance? A good ethical design. This means that as we improve our technical capabilities, we have to think carefully about where and how we deploy them for the greater good. Furthermore, this should be a global discussion, involving elected officials, researchers, civil society organizations, and companies.
Sector Dialogues – Comparing with some countries, Brazil is very underdeveloped regarding digital transformation. What are the main challenges that Brazil faces?
Madzou – I don’t have enough knowledge of the Brazilian digital ecosystem to answer this question. However, I can still make a small comment. Despite the challenges currently faced by Brazil, it would be a mistake to consider the digital transformation solely through a development lens. Because, this often incentivises the so-called ‘developing countries’ to replicate what has been done in other ‘developed countries’ with little regards for their local contexts, which could lead to various issues. Instead, it would be useful to fund detailed research on the Brazilian digital ecosystem to produce evidence-based digital strategies.
Sector Dialogues – In your opinion, which countries are global leaders and example of innovation and digital transformation? How can Brazil make part of the fourth industrial revolution and come together with them?
Madzou – Well, the digital transformation occurs across the world, even it is more advanced in the North American, Europe and South-East Asia. Thus, I would not target any specific 'global leader'. Brazil should maintain a regular dialogue with governments, private companies and non-profit organizations across the world to discuss the digital revolution. The only thing that I would highlight is that the EU is well advanced in terms of digital policy. The Brazilian government could benefit from this knowledge within the scope of the EU-Brazil dialogue.
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