Prof. Dr. Rexhep Meidani Speech | 𝗜𝗖𝗜𝗧𝗧𝗕 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟮

Prof. Dr. Rexhep Meidani Speech | 𝗜𝗖𝗜𝗧𝗧𝗕 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟮

Dear Colleagues 

I am delighted and honored to be invited to the International Conference focused on Digital Economy and Recent Technology Trends, for expressing some thoughts on this very important theme of Today. And I believe, your concrete contributions will cast an increased sense of motivation and reason, even urgency and pride over this subject.

The extensive use of digital and network technology has pushed mankind from the industrial era into the information and digital one. The digits are becoming, actually, an extensive global phenomenon and force everywhere. An important part of this rapid process is the Digital Economy with billions of daily online transactions among people, organizations (businesses, institutions, non-profits) based on different devices (servers, laptops, smartphones, etc.). In this New Economy, the traditional activities (like production, distribution, trade) are deeply transformed by Internet, World Wide Web and Blockchain Technologies.

Business runs on information; the faster and the more accurate it is, the better for it. Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on the blockchain networks, where the blockchains are delivering the information, providing immediate, shared and completely transparent information stored on an immutable ledger.

This digital transformation of the economy is altering conventional notions: how businesses are structured, how consumers obtain goods and services, and how policy and state’s institutions are adapted to new rules and challenges. Particularly, more people are, now, working online and with the increase of online activities contributing to the global economy, companies that support the systems of the Internet are more profitable. No doubt, it is a clear reflection of nowadays.

We do not live in two separate worlds (in analogue and digital ones); however the networked world is a predominant feature of today’s society. Now, more people are embedded in a global system of networked objects. Even more, in everyday life, we are using, for communication, information and other services, the Internet, Facebook, Tweeter, WhatsApp, etc. Also, this digital revolution is developing a new space, not only for economy and trade, but also for cultural exchange and integration among nations, and, above all, for new environment based on new global rules, ethical principles and political concepts. In this optics, I think and I believe, in the world shaped by digital technology, our societies require a tremendous need for a New Ethics – the Digital One, closely related to Bioethics, Medical and Business Ethics. They should help humans in their moral and legal decisions. And, the question is: what are new ethical norms and limits? The answer is not quite clear.

In fact, the moral and legal norms, which have had different shapes in different epochs and societies, reflect the human progress. In this optics, the artificial intelligence and the process of robotization, the reality of social media and online platforms, their uses and misuses, including the personal data, are a cause for serious ethical and legal concern. Especially, robots, today, are becoming widespread in everyday life, performing different tasks in health care, hotels, restaurants, schools and private homes. For that, it is necessary to qualify ethically and legally their use for good life. It becomes much more important for the use of drones or digital devices for surveillance; for the delegation of personal responsibility to algorithms in the case of driverless cars, etc. 

       As many of you could know, Albania, already, was under a massive cybernetic attack. The main servers of the National Agency for Information, which handles many services, were all down after being hit. Considering this recent event, I prefer to say some words on the Digital Security. Frankly speaking, the cybercrime, the attacks and breaches, are becoming a “big business” of today. Bad actors, groups and even institutional structures, with different evil motives, populate the internet, ready to pounce on insecure data and not mature security practices, not only to personal addresses, but, above all, to those of businesses, technologies, banks, state’s institutions, etc. So, it’s time, to elaborate in detail the ethical and legal parameters in the debate about freedom vs. security. In my judgment, the digital technology fosters, in some way, new forms of oppression and exploitation, weakening many elements of human security, including the human rights. My question is: what are the consequences when companies, employers, and friends want to know everything about us? Is this a danger for our freedom? What is the drawback of too much surveillance? Considering the public-private relations, in the conflict between freedom and data protection, we need to pay more attention to freedom, particularly seeing a new power struggle between digital capitalism and the (digital) working class.

Nowadays, billions of users worldwide give their data for free to a few global players, offering their services. These digital capital owners, either for profit or under political pressure, could use the personal data of their customers without their consent. Thus, another aspect of social struggles must be between digital customers and data owners, added to other forms of divide, based on the exclusion to digital networks access, or economic -educational differences within a society, between regions, countries and nations.

Nevertheless, the digital divide is not just a technical but a complex local and global social phenomenon for which key ethical questions concerning justice, freedom, peace, cooperation, and identity have to be redefined. The digital technologies, on one side might help overcoming social inequalities and different forms of exclusion and, on the other side, they might also aggravate the divide in society. In that sense, in my view, the perspective of digitalization in our century is not only a technological but, also, an ethical and legal challenge. New norms and rules must be embedded in legal systems, traditions and customs; in any cultural, educational, economic, political or institutional activity.

With my last concern, I would like to conclude my remarks emphasizing that in front of us there are challenges and opportunities,   which tomorrow would be more incredible than any of us can imagine it, today. Yes, many chances are ahead of us, not behind. And I hope, you are and you will be part of them. Don’t give up, ever. Wishing success in the conference proceedings.

Good Luck to you all! Thank you!