The COVID-19 crisis is bringing the world economy to its knees, as producers cannot continue to produce normally, and consumers cannot consume the bulk of the products and services they were used to until a month ago. In response to this announced disaster, in order to prevent most companies and individuals from going bankrupt in the short term, most governments, aware of the urgency, have decided to allocate sums to be distributed to companies and citizens (France 300 Billion Euros, USA 2200 Billion Dollars, Switzerland 20 Billion Swiss Francs…).
These initiatives, however praiseworthy and necessary they may be, are nonetheless difficult to implement, for several fundamental reasons:
- The money intended for businesses must be distributed through the banks in the form of loans at advantageous rates or even zero interest. Consequently, banks must put in place new rules for granting loans: eligibility criteria, risk calculation, traceability of loans… However, current IT systems do not allow the rules to be replaced quickly enough. There is therefore a risk that agents may be too strict or too permissive, with loss of information and the disappearance of large sums in the process, either because of fraud or because of a lack of availability of the usual resources to deal with files in an emergency. The correct application of this measure requires cooperation between separate entities, and access to data held by each of them: banks, tax authorities, social administration, trade unions, etc… How, then, can it be ensured that the rules will be respected? To date, the French state provides for severe sanctions in the event of cheating, and the Netherlands appeals to the good faith of citizens and businesses. This is a strong indication that our states do not believe they have the means to prevent fraudulent transactions before they are carried out.
- Money intended for natural persons will have to be distributed either by unemployment insurance bodies or by social services. Here too, the same difficulties will be encountered, compounded by the fact that these benefits are generally based on physical visits by individuals to offices which are currently largely closed or in minimum service.
- The bureaucracy whose function is to check that money is spent according to the rules in force, that files are complete, accurate and precise, etc…., is set up for normal operation, and can only constitute bottlenecks in the present period. The bureaucracy, many of whose tasks are performed manually, is simply not capable of suddenly processing a considerable number of applications with its traditional methods.
In other words, even the emergency procedures of the existing systems do not ensure resilience in the event of an exponential increase in the volume of data to be processed. To date, a request for partial unemployment has been filed for 25% of Swiss employees, for four million French employees from hundreds of thousands of companies. And the same phenomenon is worldwide and can only increase. It is difficult to reassure people and companies who experience administrative difficulties on a daily basis that the structures in place can handle so many files correctly and quickly. Will there be a lot of fraud or a lot of people left without any income or both?
There is only one way out: working in networks, and sharing data and objectives in order to carry out transactions in accordance with the new rules in a way that is commensurate with the situation and which would allow the usual bureaucratic procedures to be circumvented. For businesses, most of the data needed to obtain a loan is already available but scattered (tax databases, databases of people, banks, companies, etc.).
The same observations apply to the distribution of money to individuals, except that a mobile application is needed to identify individuals and record their data in order to share them with the services concerned. Such an application would be very easy to develop and could be distributed directly by the public administration to all citizens.
What is needed is a data-sharing platform that governs transactions and exchanges between these data sources according to strict rules. The function of monitoring the compliance of transactions with the rules is precisely the role of bureaucracy. A platform that can connect to the relevant data, integrate new rules quickly, and organise the work automatically to make future transactions comply with the rules would be enough to solve this challenge. Such a capability requires an ethical and intelligible artificial intelligence, allowing a permanent and error-free dialogue between man and machine, which can take control of all transactions.
Global Data Excellence from Geneva, Switzerland offers such a platform. Its software, Data Excellence Management System (DEMS), is the first artificial intelligence platform that allows organisational governance in natural language. This software has received the Davos Innovation Award and the European Commission’s 2020 Innovation Award. It allows to connect directly to the data of an ecosystem and to automatically deduce its semantics (the meaning of terms and the relationships between them).
Then, DEMS allows to create operating rules in natural language, and to apply them automatically to current or future transactions. By connecting the data involved in a transaction DEMS can point out what is missing to make a transaction compliant with the rules: for example, this or that document is missing, this company has already received aid and is no longer entitled to it, the figures do not match the criteria, this person cannot be uniquely identified, etc… DEMS also indicates who has to act and how to make the transaction compliant.
DEMS can be set up in less than three days in its clients’ infrastructure and remotely. It is then immediately ready to replace bureaucracy and business applications, while applying the same level of control. Rules must be written by people with authority and knowledge of the law, but it is an easy exercise that takes only a few days and requires no IT development.
Regarding data protection, GDE has developed, in collaboration with a law professor from the University of Fribourg who is an expert in European law, a model of the European GDPR law in the form of 106 rules, which are provided with the platform. This guarantees that even if the entire population comes to share personal data electronically, this data will be governed exactly according to the law.
Is humanity facing its biggest challenge since the biblical Flood? The solution was then for the lucky ones to board Noah’s Ark. Do we have today another choice than to embark on a new Digital-For-All ark? Do our leaders have other viable alternatives to offer us? How do we enable individuals and organisations to collaborate effectively and dynamically according to ever-changing rules? Shouldn’t sharing our databases and an alternative artificial intelligence be part of the solution?
Dr. Stéphane Zrehen – Business Development Executive at Global Data Excellence
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