2 February 2022

Emergence of the Hybrid World: Its Imperatives and Challenges

AUN Writer Team

By Aira Mae Olivar, AUN Intern

The modern society that we know of today is built of several technological breakthroughs which makes our lives easier. Everyone is using technology in one way another—either manual or automatic. Technology, defined by Oxford Languages, is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, or machinery and equipment developed from application of scientific knowledge. In a series of continuous technological breakthroughs coupled with the current pandemic, how would a society address productivity? The Hybrid World. 

The “Hybrid World” is defined as a change in the structure and patterns of human activities which is generated by the emergence of cyberspace to accommodate interests of humans. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for schools and companies to function productively as the “normal” has changed. In order to fully adapt to the “new normal”, innovations must be made through research and development across sectors in order to adopt digital tools and techniques that would keep people connected despite the limitations set by the pandemic (OECD, 2021).

The sudden changes while adapting to the new normal is overwhelming that socioeconomic activities of all countries were slowed down, or even paralyzed. Despite the innovations done by the government in addressing socioeconomic issues, there remains the critical issue of prioritizing the sustenance of these innovations. This article will tackle the problems which come from transitioning to the Hybrid World and some of the possible solutions which may address the issues.

Challenges of the Post-Pandemic Hybrid World

1. Lack of Digital Communication Equipment
The global and local social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines and policies to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic demanded for the use of digital communication equipment to keep people socially connected. Public interaction decreased drastically which made digital communication much more relevant, however, not all people have access to these kinds of technological equipment (Nguyen, et al., 2020). 

There is clearly a disparity when it comes to governments addressing digital communication problems. Countries in Southeast Asia with less developed digital economies like the Philippines and Indonesia have had a hard time in focusing on infrastructure development to meet the demands of society compared to Malaysia and Singapore which focused on the retraining, reskilling, and provisioning of relevant equipment (Erh, 2021).

Another problem related to digital communication is that smartphone ownership is highly correlated to income. The Global South countries find it more difficult to access higher speed internet with their large population unlike the Global North. Digital communication equipment does not only include an internet-enabled device, but also stable broadband connectivity that would supply nearby areas with sufficient internet connection (Erh, 2021).

2. Lack of Digital Literacy Skills
Digital literacy means that a person should have the skills to live, learn, and work in a highly technological society where communication and access to information increases through digital platforms such as social media and mobile devices (Western Sydney University, n.d.). Digital literacy skills include knowing how to use web browsers, search engines, emails, texts, and other basic internet functions needed to communicate information across the web. With the emergence of fake news, digital literacy also includes the ability of people to evaluate the accuracy and trustworthiness of information found on the internet (Davis, 2021).

In a survey done by UNICEF regarding the digital literacy in education systems across ASEAN, they found out that: “The majority of young people in ASEAN has a moderate level of digital literacy, but large differences exist between countries. Additionally, ethnic minority respondents lag behind the non-minority. There is an existence of “digital divide” between countries, especially in Least Developed Countries (LDC) (UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, 2021).”

3. Cybersecurity Threats
Along with the acceleration of digital transformation are the cybersecurity threats that come along with it. Cases of cyberattacks in the form of phishing, fraudulent websites, and more have increased since the start of this pandemic. The voluminous increase in online users with below average digital literacy served as an opportunity for cyber-attackers to conduct criminal activities due to the vulnerability of employees who are away from their company’s internet cybersecurity protection (Deloitte, 2020).

Cyberattacks in the forms of malicious domains, malware, and ransomware have taken advantage of any COVID-19 related websites to implement criminal activities. Malicious domains are reported to rapidly increase to carry out spam campaigns, phishing and to spread malware. Meanwhile, these malware, spyware, and trojans are reportedly embedded in interactive coronavirus maps and websites. Lastly, ransomware continues to threaten hospitals, medical centers, and public institutions by locking the systems of these institutions until they pay ransom to keep their databases (Interpol, 2020).

Possible recommended solutions

1. Sustained Funding for Research and Innovation
Research and Innovation in the science and technology sector plays a critical role for a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive future. There is a need to invest in technology and research to find out which works better for society. In this case, science and technology hold the keys to the development of any nation as it seeks to provide improvement of the quality of life for society.

2. Inclusive and Collaborative Science and Technology Systems
To address the issue of digital divide especially in LDCs, it is important that governments should make policies that are more inclusive to minorities. This can be done through having collaborative science technology systems that would provide perspectives from the periphery. Additionally, transformations require whether a policy is effective on a certain degree on where it is implemented. The effective collaboration of implementers with Science and Technology Systems for a more efficient hybrid world can only be done if it is done with research. As stated by OECD, flexible work arrangements and programs attracting students from all backgrounds to pursue scientific and technical career paths should be enforced to ensure inclusivity and collaboration of the government and society. 

3. Fostering Healthy Communication with the Society
The hybrid setup would most likely stay even after the world has adjusted to a post-pandemic world. With this, another challenge would be how to maintain and keep healthy relationships with the society, or a company when it comes to digital communication. The society needs to be assured that they are safe while surfing the internet, hence, implementing better cybersecurity software would enhance productivity. 

It is also necessary for a community to maintain communication as there may be underlying factors which may hinder any kind of development in the society. The key is to engage and empower people even after the pandemic in a hybrid world (Schurke, 2021).


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  • Author Cedric Nabe Director [email protected] +41 58 279 8090 . (2020, December 15). Impact of covid-19 on Cybersecurity. Deloitte Switzerland. Retrieved November 21, 2021, from https://www2.deloitte.com/ch/en/pages/risk/articles/impact-covid-cybersecurity.html. 
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