The active penetration of information and communication technologies and artificial intelligence into all spheres of life of modern society causes serious changes in its socio-economic development.
Today, most people participate in the production of digital information about themselves when they use digital gadgets, register and exchange messages on social networks, use online lending systems, pay for goods and services using smartphones, etc. The processing of such data by various subjects makes it possible to determine the models of people’s behaviour, their social portrait, to assess the mood in society both from the point of view of making important decisions in various fields, and with the aim of managing the state as a whole. Increasingly, at the expert level, there are discussions on the formation of a “system of social efficiency” in a digital society.
The system of social efficiency can be summarised as a set of social monitoring tools aimed at maintaining a high level of social trust and well-being in the state by encouraging socially significant actions of citizens with the active use of digital technologies. Its manifestations already exist in countries with developed IT technologies, from assessing the creditworthiness of borrowers (scoring) in the United States and other Western countries to the system of public trust in China.
The main purpose of this system is the implementation in practice of the principles of trust, transparency and harmony in relationships along the line of “person-society-state”. It may include the real sector of the economy, the rental market for real estate, the tourism industry, advertising, the sphere of cultural events and everything that is part of the daily life of most of the society. With regard to traffic rules, for example, it is safe and comfortable road traffic for both drivers and pedestrians. Among the desired social effects of the system of social efficiency, experts name the motivation of society for self-development and the launch of social lifts for representatives of all social groups, increased discipline of citizens, as well as social mobilisation in difficult periods for the country.
The People’s Republic of China is a prime example of digitalisation. In 2010, this country began to create the so-called “social credit system”, which would be able to analyse development trends and predict the future, taking into account the current needs of the population. At present, the PRC implements such projects as Smart City and the system of colour QR codes with a high degree of success, which determines the freedom of movement and the level of access of a person to public infrastructure based on his health status. Models of public administration based on this system continue to be applied by the Chinese authorities today in the fight against Covid-19.
Moreover, from 2021, any economic, social and even domestic actions in China, not only online, but also offline, are planned to be carried out only on the basis of an electronic personal identifier. From that time on, connection to a single integrated system of public credit will become mandatory for foreign legal entities.
Today our state is striving for a kind of “environmental change”, when through the integration of steps taken in all spheres and segments of life, the social climate in the country as a whole is formed. This process, among other things, involves the wide use of the potential of advanced technologies, the Internet of Things and big data arrays, as well as digital platforms.
An important step towards the development of Belarus was the approval of the State Program for the Development of the Digital Economy and the Information Society for 2016–2020, which provides for the coverage of digitalisation in almost all spheres of public life. The implementation of this program leads to an increasing growth in the already available volume of data about the citizens of the country and creates conditions for reflecting the social effectiveness of each citizen.
One of the first steps towards the implementation of the efficiency system was the idea of awarding penalty points to drivers for traffic violations, which has not yet found support among the population. From the very first days of public discussions, it became clear that the system of penalty points is associated among the Belarusians not with the prevention of traffic violations, but with an administrative penalty in the form of deprivation of a driving license. This is mainly due to the emotional and psychological perception of people of such innovations. Any person, in essence, is more inclined to receive rewards for this or that participation in government projects. It is more difficult to get used to the system of social punishment. The accumulation of penalty points or other negative assessments is perceived by people as constant administrative pressure — an attempt to keep all drivers in a state of tension and fear of possible measures of responsibility.
Therefore, it is advisable to start building a system of social efficiency in Belarus not with punitive instruments, but with the formation of a nation-scale data exchange system, part of which will be road safety measures. The system of penalty points should be aimed at a real danger and a certain group of road users, as well as carry, in addition to a negative moment for systematic violators, positive bonuses for disciplined drivers, as is customary in a number of foreign countries (for example, by introducing a reduction factor in the payment of insurance premiums by owners of vehicles).
The development of a system of social efficiency in Belarus is only a matter of time and the acceptability of its specific mechanisms for the Belarusian society.
Do we want to be under the “digital hood” and enjoy the benefits of high technologies that ensure our safety and comfort? Or should we still have control-free spaces in our lives, applying a ban on tracking and collecting personalised information? The answers to these questions can only be found as a result of public consensus.
One is for sure: as the global digitalisation of all spheres of life, which further pushed social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, penetration of information and communication technologies in everyday life that surrounds us will be accelerated. And the place of our country in the future reality depends on how objectively, thoughtfully, logically and emotionally independently the movement towards building a system of social efficiency in Belarus will take place.