Vietnam digital generation is our solution to future's problems

October 25, 2023 | 03:23 pm PT
Nguyen Huy Dung Engineer
Twenty two years ago in university I chose to study IT, a field that I believed would create useful products, improve people’s lives and resolve many issues facing society.

A simple dream of mine, the creation of an application with millions of users, led me to study at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, and then the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

My time abroad has made me realize that Vietnamese people, due to historical factors, have been disadvantaged in many ways. One of them is the fact that we missed our opportunities to reap the fruits of the industrial revolutions of the past.

If other countries have had hundreds of years to build themselves up and accomplish in the scientific, technological, production, and social spheres, Vietnam in comparison only has a few dozen years under its belt.

In this globalized digital age, there is a common language on the rise: programming.

Whichever country manages to prepare and train its generations to master and innovate programming has the chance to achieve outstanding breakthroughs.

There is a question however. If developed countries have already been trailblazers and made the best products, why do countries like Vietnam need to invest further in programming? The answer is because there are problems that no other country will solve for us. There are fields where we have no choice but to master the technologies, to secure the key to the kingdom, on our own.

It means we have to create the products ourselves and not rely on those already made.

When Vietnamese cities were undergoing lengthy Covid-19 lockdowns I was part of a special operation team in HCMC. An acquaintance asked me if I could help them find a loved one, who was possibly being treated at an unknown hospital and whose life or death status could not be confirmed.

Due to the breakage of information chains between hospitals, it took me a while to track them down. By the time I was done, the patient was already dead.

I felt powerless. If only we had better digital solutions for situations like this.

That means we cannot rely on others to find those solutions for us. We have to create them on our own.

The pandemic has died out now, but who knows there won't be more in future? There are so many more problems in life that pop up when we least expect them.

The history of people is made of stories, where every generation will tell others after them of what came before.

My father told me about the marching soldiers that sundered the Truong Son ranges.

I grew up with my grandmother and mother's lullabies, made of idioms and metaphors about farming and the weather in an era when technological advancements were limited.

During my time, I and my peers were able to gain access to a greater swath of knowledge, science and technology the world has to offer, and Vietnam has been able to achieve things that extend beyond our borders.

But there is a long way to go yet. A long way to become a country with the potential of not only creating products for our own use, but also solutions for the world's many problems.

That future hinges on one factor: whether we can inspire our young people to stand on their own feet.

A man watches as his son (C) attends a programming class with a staff member from Vietnamese tech giant FPT. Photo by VnExpress

A man watches as his son (C) attends a programming class with a staff member from Vietnamese tech giant FPT. Photo by VnExpress

From a very long time ago, before the first computer was made, Alan Turing has dreamed of a machine that could calculate anything calculable.

Before Google became the global giant it is, Larry Page and Sergey Brin had dreamed about making all of the world's information searchable and accessible.

They continue to make that quest a reality even today.

The recently released iPhones are the continuation of the dream of their maker: to create the world's best products.

Each of these major achievements did not come in a vacuum: They were the results of dreams that never died along the way.

These Alan Turings, Larry Pages, Sergey Brins, and Steve Jobses are geniuses, but is achieving what they did feasible for us common people?

I believe there is a genius in each and every one of us. People can excel at anything when they put their mind to it.

We can all pick a seat most appropriate for us in this train ride of the digital age, among us programming generation.

How do poor countries lacking in resources have thriving economies? Because it was the very lack of resources that drove them to push further and awaken their hidden potential.

Resources by themselves are merely an advantage; people are those who foster long-term development and prosperity.

A country of over 100 million people will have no shortage of talent, no shortage of people willing to build a better future. The important thing is to nurture their dreams and make them the best versions of themselves.

Dreams and ambitions for a programming generation will lead to a programming country, a foundation to realize Vietnam's goal of becoming a prosperous digital nation for the good of everyone.

*Nguyen Huy Dung is a government official working in digital transformation at the Ministry of Information and Communications.

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