This is how digitalisation contributes to a sustainable civilisation

Published 06 Jul 2017

- Digitalisation contributes to more democracy, better lives and health in a world facing many challenges. We are also facing the greatest sociological change in 700 years. Our world is changing dramatically, and everything will form part of a totally new ecosystem: the Internet of Things. Stein Opsahl, VP of strategic consultancy at Knowit Experience stated this when Bergen Chamber of Commerce interviewed him in connection with its annual conference Time to Step Up, which is based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Smarter apps and sensors will interpret behaviours and collate enormous volumes of data, which in turn will make society more efficient through advanced algorithms. This is how digitalisation makes its ecological footprint. Many people believe this will give us the chance to transform from a carbon-based civilisation to a renewable and sustainable civilisation, no less,” says Opsahl.

So the internet can actually save the planet?

“The new super-internet can help to ensure that global climate change doesn’t produce several billion climate refugees in the coming years. The super-internet occurs when the “communications internet”, the “digitalised energy internet” and the “transport and logistics internet” are seen in context. Then technology may ultimately reduce the need for cars by 99%, for instance. 1 billion new users will connect to the internet, and this will occur via mobile phones. 50 million widgets will be connected to the internet, and we will have more mobile units than there are people on the planet.

How will our day-to-day lives be affected by digitalisation?

“In brief, we could say that it will lead to dematerialisation, demonetisation, and decentralisation. The need for widgets and hardware will be reduced, we will have new processes that phase out and distribute currency, and in the future we may not need a central bank. Nonetheless, it is important to take into account two other trends that always have and always will change the world: deflation and chemistry. In a deflated world, ideas are more valuable than products. Ideas that can help people improve their companies are our most important currency. We also know that over thousands of years, significant social changes have occurred largely based on advances made within chemistry. Medicine, pharmaceutics, fertiliser, 3-D printing, etc.

When will robots take over our jobs?

“They have already done this, but most of us will not be replaced by a robot. Still, we have to get used to the thought of sharing our job with one. The virtual workforce will affect most jobs, and almost half the work that most wage earners perform will be automated. No one will escape. This will apply to everyone, both those on low incomes and those on high incomes. Bosses, pin-stripe suits, doctors, engine drivers, taxi drivers and journalists.

How will companies have to change in order to succeed in an increasingly digitalised world?

“These days, too many companies simply throw digital dust on processes in order to streamline an existing business model with new technology. Nor do they understand how the customer’s world has changed because of digitalisation. In this new world, companies must tell a relevant story to make themselves valuable. This is the mindset that is important when you want to turn your business models upside down to be able to connect supply and demand more efficiently. The technology is just a support.

Stein Opsahl
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