Do more to embrace 'disruptions'

Disruption, by definition, indicates an unexpected development that can have an impact on current and future operations ("Tech or terrorism, govts must be ready for disruptions: Tharman"; Sept 17).

While we cannot predict or stop disruptions, we should also not resign ourselves to apathy, complacency and passiveness. We can foster the right conditions to pioneer, respond to, and leverage disruptions to strengthen our growth.

At a macro level, technology may move at a faster pace than policymakers can fully make sense of. Therefore, they should adopt a light touch in their regulatory roles.

The tendency by the authorities to overprotect consumers may unintentionally prevent consumers from taking personal responsibility, becoming more mature and taking calculated risks to improve their lives.

The authorities should adopt a "maximum opportunity and minimum barrier" criteria for crafting and implementing policies.

In a borderless world where commerce is increasingly transacted on the Internet, tracking business ownership and transfer accounting becomes increasingly complex.

The authorities need to constantly upgrade their knowledge and expertise to ensure that they will not be misled, resulting in potential loss of tax revenues and other consequences.

They should continue to invest in building the infrastructure to support an innovative, high-tech and digital environment.

They also need to prepare people for all plausible scenarios and be ahead of the game.

For instance, the authorities can continue to improve the availability and affordability of top-speed Internet access. They can ensure that the necessary tools and resources to profit from technological innovations are within the reach and means of the people.

On a micro level, people need to have the confidence, capacity and capability to believe that the future does not have to be an unchangeable reality but a controllable possibility.

They need to identify gaps that cannot be adequately plugged by technology and capitalise on these gaps to have a more stable, secure and sustainable career.

For instance, while automated technology, including robots and drones, may eventually take over most of our work, they may not be able to perform creative, aesthetic and personalised tasks.

Disruptions do not have to be a pitfall; they can be a platform for shaping our next phase of prosperity and progress. How we respond can strengthen our future growth.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)