The government of Ukraine has shared more details about its ambitious digital transformation plans. President Volodymyr Zelensky has previously stated that he wants Ukraine to become the “most digital country” in the world, and Deputy PM Mykhailo Fedorov has elaborated on that idea during a conference in Lugano, Switzerland.
According to Federov, the push for digital transformation is at least in part a direct response to Russia’s invasion of the country. He suggested that a digital Ukraine would be more resilient because there would not be as much physical infrastructure for Russia to target.
“Digital services cannot be destroyed by missiles, especially if you store data on Amazon or Microsoft,” said Fedorov.
The upshot is that Ukraine would still be able to provide services for its citizens during times of extreme crisis, such as a military conflict. People would be able to use mobile apps to access government services, while all payments could be carried out with digital currency instead of cash. A digital economy would similarly be more resistant to physical attacks.
Federov stressed that Ukraine was pushing for digital transformation before the invasion, though he acknowledged that Russia’s assault has accelerated the country’s timeline. The government is specifically hoping to get a digital education system set up within the next year, to make sure that it can still provide schooling for the 4.2 million students who have been forced to leave their homes. Other components (such as the healthcare system and the digital currency system) have a lengthier three-year timeline.
Zelensky has asked some of the world’s biggest tech companies to help provide some of the funds and equipment needed to build the country’s digital ecosystem. Federov, meanwhile, has issued a more general call for funds from the international community. He indicated that the country’s existing digital identity infrastructure would serve as the backbone for the new system. In that regard, the country already accepts a digital passport as valid proof of ID, and has a Diia digital ID app that has millions of registered users.
Under the new system, government paperwork that used to be filed in person would be carried out with a digital app. Government bureaucrats would be retrained for other jobs once their services are no longer needed.
While many of the proposed services are fairly standard digital identity talking points, one component of Ukraine’s plan drew more criticism than the others. The country claims that it wants to add AI decision making to its judicial system, with a solution that would analyze a case to try to determine whether someone is likely to commit another crime. However, such a system would be extremely vulnerable to bias, and that kind of profiling could lead to severe human rights abuses if it is used in sentencing decisions. Lawmakers in the European Union have already moved to ban that kind of social profiling technology.
Source: The Economic Times