4th IR Korea

The Presidential Committee for the 4th Industrial Revolution (PCFIR) is an interesting Korean entity. 25 members consisting of five ministers and representatives of industry, research and organizations, under the leadership of Chairman Byung Gyu Chang, a CEO of a gaming company. With sub-committees the number of members total more than 100 and there is a supporting secretariat with about 30 staff.

Today, the PCFIR presented their recommendations to the government. These are yet to be translated to English from the 180-page report in Korean. But there is a summary report handed out at the conference in English. The central part of it is summarized in the picture and the recommendations appear to be more directional and inspiring than concrete and detailed.

Recommendations of the PCFIR.

Interesting contributions are the inclusion of key tech such as AI, cybersecurity and blockchain. It is also ensuring to see the inclusion of Social Innovation, and here I am hoping the areas in it, Labor, Education and Social Security, in the more elaborate report is complemented with other societal challenges such as climate, demography and social inclusion. Or perhaps are these more background motifs on which the recommendations are based. We are sure to find out eventually.

Most central is however the block on Industrial Innovation. Here, the PCFIR is recommending six focus areas, none of them a big surprise and all elaborating on previous priority areas, what in Korea is often described as Growth Technology Platforms.

The venue for the presentations of this new report is the conference Global Policy Trends in the 4th Industrial Revolution 2019.

Among the keynote presentations, the Lawmaker Byung Kwan Kim, highlights the challenges in Korea to keep up with relevant legal and regulatory frameworks to enable the digital development. He mentions Sweden and Estonia to which he feels Korea is lagging and this is surely an area that quite often is mentioned as a key challenge here in Seoul.

Rewarding Trust

The keynote by Jon Simonsson, chairing the Swedish committee on Technological Innovation and Ethics, KOMET, put the finger on another Korean challenge: risk aversion. I’m not sure how conscious it was as I believe Jon’s recommendations were not specifically directed to the Korean government but a general conclusion that governments and government agencies need to engage in new ways of working in order to meet the needs if we want to enable the best conditions to deliver on digital opportunities. Primarily, Jon, said, we need to instill courage in government. This surely applies to Swedish government administration and agencies as much as any other but being familiar with Sweden he cab point to a few strong examples where courage has been important and likely to have strong positive effects.

The examples he mentions are the Swedish Tax Agency that has had the courage to go live with beta-versions of online services: The Swedish Transportations Agency that has had the courage to work with making testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads a reality: And the Swedish institutions that has the courage to bet on the disruptive industrial innovation needed in the project HYBRIT, to succeed in producing carbon free Steel.

If Korea is to take Jon’s recommendations to heart, the Korean economy and working culture will need to reward risk more generously. From my experience there is much to be done in this area but there is also much happening. It is not unusual that I meet Koreans that happily recognize examples where risk is being rewarded, or at least not punished. Some modern companies and some government functions are working consciously with this and they look to be successful.

Social Innovation

My own presentation at the conference focus on the Social Innovation. And I suggest to the interested to take part of the 2018 “The Swedish Government’s Strategy for Social Enterprises – a sustainable society through social entrepreneurship and social innovation”. You should also keep a lookout for the reporting in December of the Government Investigation on needs and conditions for values-based enterprises in the welfare system. Oh, and please visit the website of norrsken foundation.

Jon Simonsson, Anders Hektor and SeYeong Yoon.

Bye for now.