Industrial policy

A hellish hybrid of digital and analog bureaucracy

Nowadays, almost 5 billion people on Earth don`t have access to the Internet. The very term "digital inequality" was recognized by the UN as a real criterion of social discrimination at the end of the 20th century. Since then, this factor has become more and more critical. A number of states may fall behind forever, without the ability to catch up with the departed train. And citizens who find themselves without access to digital technologies may lose the chance to receive important public services.
18 march 2020

In the science fiction novel "Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy ", the Earth is decided to be demolished on the orders of space bureaucrats to build a hyperspace Express line.

"There's no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department on Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it's far too late to start making a fuss about it now."… - "What do you mean you've never been to Alpha Centauri? For heaven's sake mankind, it's only four light years away you know. I'm sorry, but if you can't be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that's your own lookout. - "Energize the demolition beams.” Light poured out into the hatchways. - "apathetic bloody planet, I've no sympathy at all."

A satirical depiction of the bureaucracy of a fantastic future can become a reality today. Unfortunately, with the introduction of exclusively digital services in the field of public services, the last chance to reach the human mind, which can correct this error, is lost. In India, where all social benefits – assistance to poor families, free meals for children in schools - were transferred to the digital plane, leaving no analog options, it turned out that many people lost the opportunity to get them. It is common for people to come on feet, stand in line in front of the social worker's office and cry. To get a digital service, you must at least have a computer with the Internet. Or a smartphone.

But now, more often it turns out a hellish hybrid of analog and digital technologies, which provides a headache both in real and virtual.

Alexey Gorobtsov, Director of Department of E-government Development, Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, who is responsible for super services in the use of public services, gave his own example of getting public services for himself at the Gaidar Forum in January. He had to re-submit the documents in electronic form three times, and when he was sure that all the necessary documents had already been submitted, he went to the Multifunctional state services center. But there it turned out that they needed some paper with a red stamp, he had to go home for it, and it was found only by a miracle. When the documents got to the head of the Multifunctional state services center, lunch time had begun. Alexey Gorobtsov had to wait again, and it turned out that the chief's office needed another document, which was supposed to make an interagency request. "If you want, we will do it, in seven days the answer will come," - after such a response, the third official in the country, responsible for digitalization, had to restrain himself very much so as not to kill the employees of this Multifunctional state services center.

And there is such a miracle option as communicating with a chatbot instead of an official. That is, you try to explain something to a person, but it turns out that you are talking to an entity that is not capable of empathy and understanding of problems.

Probably, any entrepreneur has faced the fact that now there is no opportunity to explain to the tax service. With all the super services created by the former head of the Federal tax service, the current Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, in fact, it turns out that if you were charged the same tax twice, it is pointless to try to reach out , and explain that small and medium-sized businesses are being destroyed in this way. It doesn't care what happens to the economy, it has its own algorithms.

Unfortunately, according to experts, the absurdity will increase. It is predicted that only by 2040, digital technologies in public administration will somehow adapt to us. Or we to them. It is a pity that not everyone who is actively in contact with the state will be lucky to live at this time.