Making govt. learning-oriented amid 4IR is a big challenge, experts

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The advent of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) with new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and big data analytics is fundamentally changing and shaping our modern society. A key challenge amid 4IR is to make our government departments’ learning-oriented organizations to use big data effectively as evidence for decision making.

Experts said this during a distinguished lecture titled “Implications of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) for policymaking and the knowledge systems” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Friday at Islamabad.

Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), London, Dr. Arnaldo Pellini, while delivering the lecture said that over the years the remarkable progress in digital and information technology around the world for generating, collecting and analysing data has been changing the way policymakers can source and use evidence, and adding real-time big data analytics to their evidence. Dr. Arnaldo while quoting the example of New Zealand said that the adoption of four basic principle of usage and sharing of big data, which include values, inclusion, trust and control, can help the governments in effectively managing and regulating the big data usage. Now, the governments need to invest in building capacity of institutions to adapt to the new technologies and innovations, he added.

Joint Executive Director, SDPI, Dr. Vaqar Ahmed said that the major challenge in today’s digital world is to make our government departments ‘learning-oriented’ organizations. “We need to study reasons for low demand of evidence in policy making”, he said adding this challenge is also closely related to how we can narrow down the divide between policy researchers and policy makers. The former needs to learn how best to package evidence-based advice so that it is comprehended properly by the latter.

Dr Vaqar underlines that policy makers on their own will also have to learn how to put in place knowledge management system which are able to provide solutions to complex political economy problems faced by officials on almost a daily basis. He said the public sector can also look at models from other countries where officials have the benefit to learn from an internal unit which dedicatedly focuses on strategic research, foresight and experimentation. The public offices through competition can crowd-source idea from the best academics and practitioners. It is now encouraging to note that some local think tanks are collaborating to help the public organizations towards strengthening evidence for development initiatives, he observed.

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