Reference is made to Mohamed A. El-Erian’s article, “The democratic disruption of finance” (The New Times, April 23).
This is surely an informative piece. And so it seems that over the course of its history, the human species has been – and continues to be – regularly confronted to the question of what progress is, or alternatively, how it should be defined.
Today, internet and the social media are considered technological innovations, for which the good impact for society far outweighs the bad (therefore, some progress, if we had to define it).
However, by their very “democratic” nature – the wider and wider reach of the general public – these tools have the ability and power to exponentially increase risks for that same public, when they are used for products, ideas, etc. that are not well understood or actually flawed.
Bitcoin is a great example today (having appealed to groups beyond financial connoisseurs). And as Mr. El-Erian stated, going back to the explosive financial and economic crisis of 2009: values at risk – which ended up materialising and creating sequences of default leading to a global crisis – were linked to financially engineered products (“innovative” sub-prime mortgages and complex collateral debt obligations) that would have had an even more damaging effect, should these products have been more widespread and largely accessible using e-platforms (and market buzz).
Technological innovations, internet and social media are a powerful combination. For worse or better, that depends on us. That’s where our definition of progress takes its full meaning – it leads us to a reflection on the effect and mitigating measures for the good of society.