Enthusiasts of the fourth industrial revolution like to talk about the world changing rapidly and the need for people to become increasingly more flexible.
Rapid development and the spread of information technologies prompt further rapid changes in the legal system. But the existing system has hardly been able to ‘catch up’ with the current situation.
We keep hearing that people should learn to adjust to these changes. However, rather than criticizing people’s lack of flexibility, proponents of the fourth industrial revolution insist that more attention should be paid to the relationship between the competences of smart technologies and people’s abilities.
After all, no one urges a calculator-wielding employee to work faster in order to catch up with their calculator. Neither Klaus Schwab, the founder of World Economic Forum, in his discussions of the multifaceted impact of the fourth industrial revolution, nor philosopher Lucian Floridi, in his exhaustive analysis of the revolution caused by information and communication technologies, suggest that people should compete with machines. Instead, both of them focus on the newly developing relationships between humans and machines.
New political strategists, including those in Lithuania, have taken to launching the ‘govtech’ initiatives, urging the public sector to become ever more transparent, innovative and efficient, using tools based on smart technologies, which should also help tackle excessive paperwork and ever-growing bureaucracy.
The need for ‘creative destruction’
Advocates of govtech, however, often note that the newest technologies have a tendency to distract people from their core tasks. This is because digital tools do not necessarily ensure the desired flexibility with administration. Problems arise when highly qualified and experienced employees have no time left to reflect on their activities. Their time is consumed by managing tasks whereas their creative potential, which could inspire unconventional decisions, remains unused. As a result, the joy caused by quick and efficient decisions is often replaced by the disappointment of being stalled by rules and regulations.
It is worth considering an invitation issued by the Lithuanian governmental agency for science, innovation and technology (Lithuanian – MITA), on 31 March 2020, ‘to create a device to measure emotions’, an EmotionMeter, which would be ‘innovative, compact, and one of its kind, with no equivalents in either Lithuania or abroad’. The pre-commercial procurement of the idea for such a device was initiated by the Centre for Pedagogical and Psychological Support at the Municipality of Trakai County. The device in question was described as very relevant and necessary, because, during the pandemic, people’s psychological state could be damaged not only by the fear and anxiety caused by the spread of the virus, but also by the economic and social consequences that the quarantine would bring about. Therefore, ‘it is important to closely monitor the emotional state of a human being; to recognize the emotions s/he experiences; to detect their emergence and trace their development’. After the proposal was made public, it drew criticism from many psychologists and the media.