Artificial intelligence (AI) and expert systems are less trendy in 2014 than they were back in 1974 but since that time they have never ceased developing and the processing power of today's computers opens ever wider prospects. In the same way that robots have changed factories, the rapid advent of expert systems has changed numerous skilled office workers' jobs. Some have been transformed, others destroyed. What is at stake is the very existence of our middle-classes, the core of modern economies. But the final word here is not written on the wall yet, inasmuch as the concept of expertise is also changing very rapidly.
Enterprises are now able to collect all kind of real-time information about the needs of each consumer. They can provide innovative products that are neither goods nor services but something else, in between, that could be called solutions. Around these solutions we are witnessing the emergence of original business models, and more generally, of a new economy.
Social business and new models of access to goods and services: can they help multinational companies from developed countries reinvent themselves? Or even, can they become levers of strategic renewal for these firms? Danone's experience suggests they can indeed. However, precise analysis of the underlying processes is required if we are to discern the factors that lead to success.
After missing the first and second industrial revolution, Africa looks set to adopt the third. By combining low-cost services, live information and simple innovations, by making these features available to farms of all sizes, the mobile Internet can allow African agriculture to move up a gear in order to meet its immense needs.
The African digital boom has already begun. McKinsey estimates that the contribution of the Internet to the annual GDP of Africa could rise from $18 billion in 2014 to $300 billion in 2025. Yet, all the countries are not addressing the digital wave with the same attitude.
African nations are seldom mentioned in the world ranking of innovative countries, but things could change with the rise of a new generation of technologies that perform many financial transactions from mobile phones. Today, mobile banking opens a new avenue for development. But can this model be exported?
Institutions, and not only technology, are a driver for change. In India, a recent experience shows promising and somehow unexpected outcomes. The goal? Ensuring greater transparency and competition in the award of government contracts. The result? Greater transparency, indeed; but also a new, efficient tool for conflict resolution.
Disruptive technologies have given the old science of onomastics unprecedented powers. Combined with datamining, extracting semantics from names can provide numerous, valuable applications. Though discriminating names carries a high risk of abuse, it can also drive new, unexpected ways for developing poor areas.
The open data movement has reached a significant and ever-growing number of states and governments. From New York to Paris, from Nairobi to Singapore, an increasing number of territories offer open sets of data. To fully understand the stakes of this movement, one of the first techno-political ideas to spread at the network speed, one has to track its origins.
A few decades ago, when Africa was crumbling under the burden of debt, economic forecasts were very pessimistic. But the vigorous growth of African economies has proven them wrong. Where does the African growth come from? What are its specificities? What does Africa need to be able to race with other great emerging countries?
Between planned economy and privatization, Chinese capitalism is trailblazing its original path. What will the next twenty years be like? To form an idea, we must go over the course of reforms that have been carried out so far, while taking the full measure of a major phenomenon, which should encompass 300 million more people within a few years: urbanization.
Launched in 2009, the Unique Identification Authority of India is a megaproject mixing the latest information technologies and basic development requirements. Its objective is both simple and ambitious: to provide a unique identity number to all residents in the country. Helping the poorest to access the modern economy and society is an emergency and a key to economic and social development. It is also a challenge, and not only a technical one.
Is the globalization wave starting to wane? Various recent indicators suggest that Western companies have started reshoring manufacturing jobs, those qualified and well-paid jobs that provided a social platform for the development of industrialized countries. But experts disagree on both the magnitude and the meaning of this phenomenon. Only on one fact do they agree: the United States will be the largest lab of the reshoring process.
During its 18th Congress held in last November, the Chinese Communist Party has been discussing the country's economic future. At a time when many questions arise about its upcoming challenges, one must take a look back at the current model. Will the spectacular success of the Chinese economy bring forth a Beijing consensus as a successor to the Washington consensus?
Has international trade come to a standstill with the crisis that started in 2008? Things are not that simple, says the Director-General of the WTO. While protectionist pressures may appear here and there, the real question revolves around the growing complexity of trade and the structural limits inherent to the technique of negotiation rounds undertaken by member states.
The digital revolution is not only a matter of technologies. The players involved can be described as radical innovators, whose work has a direct impact on social exchanges - from friendship to trade. The shock wave is gradually spilling out of our screens and hitting the rest of the economy. The concept of multitude helps us grasp what is at stake.
Companies once viewed corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs with general skepticism and even contempt. How times have changed. Today, businesses around the world, spurred by consumers as well as a rising generation of more socially conscious leaders, are making CSR a priority, embedding it into their operations and using it to attract and keep talent.
Europe's economic crisis continues, and the way it plays out will decide the future course of the world economy. Among those who are trying to steer the continent, and especially the euro zone, away from the edge of the precipice is Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. She has recommended policies such as deeper economic integration and higher firewalls to turn Europe around. Ms. Lagarde also has the delicate task of restructuring the IMF so that fast-growing emerging economies have a voice in the institution that is commensurate with their increasing economic clout, without alienating other member countries.
The emergence of a cognitive technology disrupts and rearranges the deliberative processes that govern the practices of a given community or society. Such a disruption can have an impact on the architecture of deliberation networks, on the organizations and individuals who participate in deliberations, or on the standards and conventions that structure them. Or it can have an impact on all at once. As for the current digital revolution, one can understand it better considering the previous great historical mutations, paying a special attention to the debates and criticism they have ignited in their day.
After the crucial passage from orality to writing, the invention of the printing press brought about an unprecedented reconfiguration of the circulation of information. The construction of scientific knowledge and political discussion was thereby disrupted, with a progressive expansion of reflection circles. Is the Internet but a new stage?