Big Disruption Speaker: Interview with Andrea Romaoli Garcia, UN
Andrea Romaoli Garcia is a United Nations Ambassador and a representative of Simuka Africa Youth Association. She is an international tax lawyer, expert in AI and smart economy with Blockchain, involved in the International Telecommunication Union – UN.
Andrea also holds leadership positions in the corporate sphere: CEO and founder of AA&G Lawyers, Director of Internet Society – NY, Consultant at Gerson Lehrman, Director of Relex Development, Editor Associate at Inderscience Publishers. She is currently working in Chicago and New York / U.S.A., while travelling frequently around the world, collaborating with UN and governments on developmental and philanthropic projects.
Andrea is passionate about technology and sees its vast potential to combat world hunger, violence and inequality. She developed the concept of 6th Dimension of Human Rights, based on the notion that access to technology is detrimental to social equality and justice. During her speech at the upcoming Big Disruption Summit she will discuss the opportunities for smart governance and the fundamentals of digital economy, highlighting the role of Blockchain, AI and IoT in creating a sustainable world.
In the exclusive interview with Corporate Parity Andrea shared her perspective on how new technology can serve the greater good of humanity. Read the full interview below.
How do you explain the term “Blockchain as the 6th dimension of human rights”?
Partnerships between civil society, private companies, governments and non-governmental organizations can improve the economy and facilitate technological education in developing countries in a focal way, and faster than governmental actions alone.
Technology will do us a great service by connecting everyone. It’s bringing the attention of rulers to modifying the way jobs claim for larger investments, urging them to rethink the laws meant to strengthen the power of governmental administration through tax increase. This formula is now in check for rulers, governments and civil society.
Raising taxes as a way to generate wealth and reduce poverty is an outdated and insufficient mechanism that does not guarantee sustainability. The 6th dimension of human rights is in the centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or the “Disruptive Technological Age”. It will allow interactions between humans, machines and robots that are able to collaborate across sectors, borders and fields to grasp the opportunities it presents.
As a result of 2 years of my autonomous research of the digital economy, I saw the technology as a vehicle to dignify life. I found that we reached the 6th dimension of human rights in 2009, when Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the Blockchain, thus providing a unifying platform for technologies. At this point, the right of access to technology is fundamental to generating peace, dignity and a sustainable world. Establishing technology as a fundamental right is useful to guide the annual budget plan by the government officials, who use the fundamental rights doctrine to establish the margin of investment in each sector, proportionally to the importance level it has for the citizens’ lives.
Indeed, technologies allied with Blockchain pose a conceptual idea. It composes the smart economy. Through poverty reduction, physical borders will be protected by virtual borders. Technology is a powerful accelerator of world economic flow, and a vehicle for sustainability. It requires investments, as the human right of 6th dimension that can’t be separated from current rights. The dimensions of human rights are layers of protection and guarantees for humanity, established historically and with the evolutionary work of the United Nations since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Law professionals have outlined this over time from the 1st to the 5th dimension. By placing technology into the 6th of human rights we can conclude a complete legal doctrine, useful to rulers and decision-makers. This drives the technologies further. Now we have a full and strong legal doctrine other lawyers and judges can base their decisions on, because we cannot forget that the technologies applied in financial, health, private or social environment make an impact on people’s lives.
The technologies as the 6th dimension of human rights form a financial system that recognizes cryptocurrencies, as well as the impact that taxation has on humanity. Such system has already been presented at the IGF Forum 2018 at UNESCO Headquarter – Paris for the technical and scientific community from Internet Governance and regulatory framework. It was also brought up at the Web.br 2018 conference in Brazil.
Establishing smart technologies and cryptocurrencies as the 6th dimension of human rights guides governments’ annual budget plans to maximize the application of taxes, rather than just create new forms of taxation that impose weight unbearable for business, and threaten the survival of mankind. The principles of democracy allow to introduce it in a participatory way. This legal doctrine will result in peace for businesses and citizens, safe borders and security, and allow us to create a more sustainable world.
Can we really look into the future possibility of decentralized governments, powered by AI / Blockchain?
The decentralization is possible because there are still issues to be addressed in society: reducing gender and wealth inequality, and increasing access to rights and justice. From my point of view, if we are increasing personal autonomy in financial and social life, it switches the centralization from governments and puts humans in the center. We can see this happening throughout social events, like the 4th Industrial Revolution. The partnership inside Blockchain is evidence that the decentralization is real and beneficial to governments.
What role can it play in preventing fraud and other financial crime, from your perspective as a lawyer?
The digital economy is establishing new routes for banks and companies; with millions of transactions being processed every day, it can be difficult to monitor all of them. The emerging technologies are bringing hope to this chaotic scenario through compliance software.
The transparent nature of Blockchain allows financial institutions and regulatory agencies to communicate in real time with each other on the same network. Risk officers could be notified of compliance violations by regulators in real time, allowing them to take action quickly.
Furthermore, money laundering and theft has always been happening inside banks with dollars, euro, real, libra and all traditional currencies. Thus, I don’t agree when someone is blaming the digital economy with Blockchain and cryptocurrency for financial crimes, because it has been happening long before the smart economy emerged.
While the positive influence of technology on our lives is significant, what are the less obvious risks associated with it, and how can we to prevent them?
In addition to shrinking world economic power as an undesirable effect, we have some technical-legal issues that can come with smart contracts. One of these is possible violation of the principle of right to adversary system and full defence (technical and personal), and right to privacy. The smart contracts don’t consider unanticipated risks and have direct application, which violates some rights in case the fact that generates execution of smart contract is out of the forecast.
Example: car insurance contract. If your car is stolen, the insurance company will give you another one, because this is provided in the smart contract. But, the insurance company has also installed a GPS system which, aided by AI technology, ICTs and IoTs will map all the places where the driver goes with the car. This violates the right to privacy and may authorize a contractual clause of exception without the prior right of defence.
We have several other situations like this, so we must work on the inclusive regulatory standard with great discussions. For these reasons I came up with the 6th dimension of human rights as a guide that judges and lawyers will use when issues like that arise in the International Court.
A lot of your work is focused on applying new technologies into humanitarian projects. What are some of the ways in which Blockchain, AI, big data and other technologies can improve human lives?
We know that one of the causes of world hunger is the low supply of food opposed to a high demand. This economic condition doesn’t allow the plasticity of prices that could make the food available to the masses. I saw this scenario while analysing the reports from observatories by United Nations and Governments: around the world there are over 800 million undernourished people; one in every nine people today. The majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 13% of the population is undernourished. Poor nutrition is the reason of death in roughly 45% of children under five – meaning millions of children are dying each year.
Thus, some of the benefits of technology are:
- Technology can improve the living conditions of humanity.
- Blockchain and AI technology can address fraudulent elections and fake news, improve transparency and serve as a vehicle for democracy.
- Hunger can be reduced if the supply of food increases.
- The technology can enable Africa to become a global food exporter and an agricultural powerhouse.The supply of food can be increased by applying AI, big data and IcTs technologies, bringing heat-tolerant crops and improved irrigation systems.
The digital economy would allow many African smallholder farmers to easily form developing partnerships, to negotiate seed prices and tap into bigger markets. It requires investments in humanitarian laws from governments too. There are many more benefits of technology, like big data used in environmental measures to avoid or minimize consequences of natural disasters.
Could you provide examples of such applications from your own experience?
Last week I was in Vietnam and we made an agreement to build a technological university through Blockchain technology. We are doing this through partnerships between Relex Development, the Government of Vietnam, investors and developers. This is evidence that such partnerships and technologies, allied with governmental support, can improve the condition of human life.
Another example is coming from my work alongside professionals in ITU-UN. The potential for AI assistance in the health domain and advancing the field of digital healthcare is immense, because AI can support medical and public health decision-making at reduced costs, everywhere. However, due to the complexity of AI algorithms, it is difficult to distinguish good from bad AI-based solutions and to understand their strengths and weaknesses, which is crucial for clarifying responsibilities and for building trust. For this reason, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has established a new Focus Group on “Artificial Intelligence for Health” (FG-AI4H) in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).
What is your vision for the future? Do you predict a greater shift towards equality in the next few years, powered by new technology?
I can see many developments beyond the ones mentioned earlier.
The International Inclusive Standard is required to gain benefits from technology and digital economy. The laws must consider that the digital economy has different foundations than classical ones. The raison d’être is social and humanitarian; therefore high taxes will not be beneficial. While a tax system is still necessary, taxation should not be high, and tax exceptions should be considered.
An example is Google. Applying high fees to Google just because it’s a big company with high incomes does not follow the principle of justice, because it doesn’t consider the greater good of humanity. Google has social value. Many people find free study material on Google, and have access to knowledge for free. Applying high fees will result in lower educational level.
Another aspect is equality of gender. The digital economy with Blockchain has potential to reduce domestic violence. This is a complex issue, but if we teach women to work in the Cloud environment and participate in the digital economy, domestic violence will not have the same sequels.
No woman should have to tolerate violence, disrespect and abuse from her spouse or partner. Yet, many women are trapped in this situation because they don’t have the money to leave an abusive union or marriage. In countries with low educational level and courts largely formed by men, they never consider these factors when a woman asks for divorce. Consequently, the woman has her property expropriated illegally, because she has no funds to pay lawyers. I say this with 100% certainty, because I am a lawyer and I see this happening every day in courts. Indeed, I represent some women and I brought this situation to OEA – Organization of American States, which judges crimes against human rights. So we should teach women to keep their money safe when they realize that they are living in a destructive union, thus helping them be more free and independent.
Thanks to AI technology, Blockchain and other disruptive technologies, we will soon live in smart cities and enjoy fast services, existing alongside robots while being better human beings. Human mobility will be improved by the effects of AI on health and intelligent transport.
With this picture painted, education should not be directed towards competition with machines. Instead, universities should prepare students for personal, societal and humanitarian development. We should change the way we educate children and adolescents, with focus on developing skills like communication, partnership and conflict management. We should prepare children to acquire moral and ethical principles.
While some of these effects are already evident, technology will still change and improve greatly. We can’t make certain predictions about the future greater than 1-2 years, because things are moving so fast. However, the future is definitely promising, even though the digital economy needs adjustments, such as greater security and confidence that requires investment in laws.