Laetitia Smits van Oyen: "Give or Take? Technology urges Global Citizens to choose!"

byEditorial Team

published on 20/6/2017

Droog invited social entrepreneur Laetitia Smits van Oyen to speak about the role of technology for ‘The Future of the Global Citizen’. Her column was part of Droog’s homonymous public event on June 14, 2017. Next to her, creative all-rounder Erik Kessels, architect Ton Venhoeven, and the artists from The One Day Collective took the stage to celebrate the Future of the Global Citizen from the perspective of respectively identity, mobility and ‘the other’. The column by Laetitia stirred much excitement, as it was perceived by the audience both as optimistic and bold about technology, as well as controversial. Droog is delighted to present her column here.

Challenging social developments in relation to technological developments could pose a threat, but perhaps even better, could also create new opportunities!

Today we have many more and much higher educated people than ever before in history. The computer capacity could connect us via the Internet of Things wirelessly with virtually anyone on earth. Each individual will have or already has access to a much greater amount of knowledge that on a voluntary basis could be made accessible and available to others on a scale unprecedented in history.


Rapidly expanding and evolving digital technologies

For example, the Blockchain technology ­which functions as a sort of "barcode" of whom we are, what we do, what we offer and what we contribute­ can collect, keep and provide individual information.

We see this in practice with Uber and Airbnb which ensures accreditation of its users. Regarding the latter, customers can exchange services openly and transparently, while future customers and house owners can be informed in advance with whom they have to deal with, about what kind of residence.

Everywhere applications for a sharing economy are popping up, such as, Time4Time, the Social AEX, Neighborhood Care, and Peerby.

Alternative cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether, which respectively run on Blockchain and Ethereum technology, will cause traditional currencies to disappear and make banks and economic borders redundant.

The whole wide world will have access to one huge, impressive, fast growing information system, the Internet, that connects everything and everyone.

To access, instead of to possess, services and products will become the most important feature for a future economy to thrive. The ever expanding and rapidly evolving technologies provide insight into the needs of city dwellers, but also into the abundance of goods and resources that individuals and companies have.

The almost absolute transparency in all available information will bring us into a fascinating and very stimulating era in which social and ecological changes will challenge us as Global Citizens.

Take for example taxes. Of course we should not only ‘take’ from the planet, but also ‘give’ to the planet. Today digital technologies could help supporting the giving by transcending traditional borders and currencies. This makes it possible for you to compensate the CO2 emission from your classic car by, for instance, changing beds in a hospital.


Global Citizens have to choose

What does this all mean for the Freedom and Responsibility of the Global Citizen? Each Global Citizen is, and remains a permanent, autonomous source of desires, each with the individual autonomy to either give or take, and to either add or remove data in this new world of digital information.

This new opportunity urges the Global Citizen to make a choice between joining or abstaining from sharing information with others.

If the Global Citizen decides to join, then this will require an individual responsibility with regard to integrity, sustainability and social involvement. Because the transparent available and insightful data are inexorable.

The choice is between a world of supervisors, banks and accountants, who monitor and judge whatever you and others do. Or a world that relies on transparency in data, creating a society in which all our actions and deeds will be accredited by other Global Citizens.

Honestly, I can not wait for this world in which Freedom and Responsibility of each individual are transparent and insightful via digital technologies, creating a sharing economy and

society that eventually results in a sustainable planet.

To quote Dutch mathematical physicist and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton Robbert Dijkgraaf in daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad April 29, 2017:

"I feel we're on a turning point... I feel we're going through a little mouse hole and come to an enormously larger room with a lot more technological possibilities than we can hardly imagine and, or oversee… Change has never happened this fast before, and it will never be this slow again."

Laetitia Smits van Oyen

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