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Tech Topics of the Forum

Advances in blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and civic technologies are the driving force behind the digital age, revolutionising the global economy with their transformative impact on the labour market, productivity and economic growth. The proliferation of data and algorithms has allowed these new technologies to redefine established knowledge and practices, as well as challenge the moral standards and regulations that govern societies. However, these rapid developments are not only changing government, business and society; they also open new avenues for corrupt behaviours, all the while offering new tools to address them.

Share Your Thoughts

We'll be exploring the four areas of technology and want to hear from you. Join the Anti-Corruption & Integrity group on LinkedIn to comment and let us know what you think about the opportunities and challenges of new technologies for integrity and anti-corruption. 

Distributed Ledger Technology or "Blockchain"

A distributed and tamper-proof database technology that can be used to store any type of data, including financial transactions, and which has the ability to create trust.

Opportunities

  • Blockchain’s transparency and immutability enables a new mechanism of trust in the economic system.
  • Blockchain can help mitigate high-risk transactionsBlockchain can diminish the role of intermediaries, who can slow down economic activity and who may not be trustworthy keepers of personal information.
  • Blockchain can enhance transparency and traceability in globally scattered supply chains.
  • Blockchain is being tested to create tamper-proof company registries to help determine the true beneficial owners of the companies and prevent money laundering.

Challenges

  • Blockchain can be a platform for illicit trade, money laundering, tax evasion, and other criminal activities due to the ability to participate in a transaction without having to disclose one’s identity, the rapidity of these transactions, and the absence of gatekeepers.
  •  Cryptography related to Blockchain may hinder investigations and asset recovery.
  •  Maintaining the privacy and security of sensitive information stored on Blockchain may present potential risks

Artificial Intelligence

Machine-learning algorithms that are associated with sensors and other computer programmes to sense, comprehend, and act on the world, learn from experience, and adapt over time.

 Opportunities

  • Algorithmic decision-making can identify and predict potential corruption issues by digesting diverse data sets
  • AI can increase the efficiency and accuracy of due diligence, and identify loopholes within regulatory frameworks.

Challenges

  • The predictions and performance of algorithms are constrained by the decisions and values of those who design them, the training data they use, and their intended goals for use.
  • By learning based on the data fed to them, AI-powered decisions face the risk of being biased, inaccurate or unfair especially in critical areas such as citizen risk profiling in criminal justice procedure and access to credit and insurance. This may amplify social biases and cause discrimination.[
  • The risk of inequality is exacerbated, with wealth and power becoming concentrated into a few AI companies, raising questions about the potential impacts of AI on income distribution and on public trust in government.
  • The difficulty and sometimes technical impossibility of understanding how AI has reached a given decision inhibits the transparency, explainability and interpretability of these systems.

Big Data Analytics

The use of techniques, technologies and software tools for analysing big data.  Big data is huge amounts of data generated from activities that are carried out electronically through machine-machine communications. It is defined by 3Vs: Volume, Variety (structured/semi-structured/unstructured) and Velocity (high speed at which data are generated, become available and change overtime).

Opportunities

  • The increased availability of and access to multiple data sources enables improved monitoring, supervision and enforcement of policies.
  • Big data analytics can help experts across a range of disciplines to identify, analyse, and prevent strategic, operational and reputational risks, including the risk of corruption, fraud, waste and abuse.
  • Big data analytics create complex legal, ethical and technical issues surrounding data collection, processing, and re-use.The increased granularity of data and data inter-operability and sharing between government agencies across both public-private partnerships and borders can generate digital security vulnerabilities and concerns over individual privacy, consent and confidentiality.

Challenges

  • Having the right government-wide policies, institutional strategies and data governance approaches in place to ensure an effective data-driven public service and integration of data analytics into day-to-day activities.
  •  Enabling the right context to support coherent policy implementation drawing upon cultural change, high-level commitment, collaboration and skills can help to institutionalise data-driven approaches.

Civic Technologies

Technologies enabling greater participation in government or assisting governments in delivering public services. Includes crowdfunding platforms, crowdsourced data collection, freedom of information tools, and open data and publishing platforms.

Opportunities

  • With their low entry barriers and global reach, civic technologies have reduced information asymmetries between citizens and governments, and enhanced citizen knowledge and engagement in anti-corruption.
  • Citizens leverage information and communication technology (ICT) to spot potential irregularities in public services, ask questions about complicated bureaucratic processes, and generate and disseminate information on abuse in the public sector.
  • Open data platforms grant political and public institutions greater insight into one another’s operations, thereby increasing their capacity to hold one another accountable.Open data and transparency portals allow citizens to access government data that can expose corrupt behaviour.

Challenges

  • Digital exclusion of some citizens may inhibit their making use of civic technologies for anti-corruption and integrity.
  • Ensuring consistent, reliable, and up-to-date information on open data and transparency platforms, and their proper management for easy access by the public will require considerable work.
  • Greater exposure to corruption with open data may demobilise citizens rather than enhance accountability.