A new world order is emerging. The current world order is based on nation-states (such as Australia, USA and UK).

The new order is being based on global corporations that are derived from information technology (such as Google/ Alphabet, Facebook/ Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, LinkedIn, and Amazon). We probably have as many daily interactions with these corporations – via their products and services – as we do with our national governments.

This is just the latest manifestation of how information technology (IT) is transforming all our lives, for good or ill. IT is deeply embedded into our lives.

We have done that embedding ourselves. It has not been forced upon us by the giant IT corporations. We have voluntarily succumbed to their products and services.

The current world order is based on national borders, clearly laid-out territory, national defence forces, and national government control.

The emerging new digital world order is not as tangible and yet it makes modern life possible. For example, banks are disappearing from city streets, with more banking being done online. Throughout much of the COVID pandemic much schooling was done online. Committee meetings are now often held online – as are conference presentations.

As we make use of all those services, so those services are also learning a great deal about us.

The latest IT breakthrough is Artificial Intelligence (AI), which now does some of the thinking for us. For example, Chat GPT can now write a student’s essays. The essays may not be all that good at present. But AI is now the dumbest it will ever be. Everyday it is becoming more and more intelligent, learning from its mistakes, and building on its strong points.

The good news is that AI will take some of the drudgery out of life, such as repetitive tasks. The bad news is that it will soon start to wipe out many jobs.

People may still be patriotic, particularly when it comes to national sporting events. But they are also even more loyal toward some IT products and services. Look how closely they guard their Phone, which now knows so much about them.

Algorithms get to know more about us than we know of ourselves. Citizens resent government interference in their daily lives, and yet they freely share all sorts of intimate information with IT providers. Every time a person does an online search, the algorithm gets to know a little more about that person’s tastes and interests.

The big corporations are more economically powerful than some national governments. Apple, for example, has a larger national turnover than more half of the member-nations of the United Nations.

All this is happening so fast that we have not yet had time to feel surprised.

We have international arrangements – albeit far from perfect – to regulate the behaviour of national governments, such as international law, and international institutions like the UN, European Union, and NATO.

We need to think about how we are going to govern the emerging new digital world order. Or have we left it too late?

And what about the future of humans when, by about the year 2050, we will have AI as intelligent as human beings?

Will the computers keep us on as pets – or will they declare us redundant and so surplus to the planet’s needs? Have we created our own replacements? Possibly, as computer generated “people” appear on our screens reading the news or such. 

And as the Writers Strike in LA showed, actors’ images, voices and performances are being used without permission or payment in other projects.

Interesting times indeed.

Keith Suter


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