Tallinn University of Technology

Christman Roos' MA thesis was awarded the real-time economy research award. We interviewed him on what exactly is real-time economy, how do we use it in everyday life and how could be boost the green transition using it.

Christman Roos pälvis reaalajamajanduse teaduspreemia
Christman Roosman and the award presentor, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology of the Republic of Estonia, Mr. Kristjan Järvan.

What did your MA thesis focus on?

The thesis mostly explored the phenomenon of the real-time economy and one of its possible applications to enhance CO2 emission reductions. The aim was to identify the linkages between how real-time economy principles can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while also proposing a conceptual framework for it.

For whom and why is real-time economy important?

Initially, real-time economy was primarily important for entrepreneurs to automate their business and accounting. Its importance has now spread to a wider field - it also helps to automate reports, thereby reducing unnecessary bureaucracy.

The real economy also manifests itself in e-invoicing and e-receipts, for example. For consumers, this means, for example, instant payments and, in the future, why not a feedback system to help them make better economic decisions in real time.

What were the main conclusions of the thesis?

Although the term real-time economy has been in use for just over 20 years, it has so far received relatively little academic attention. One of the main conclusions that deserves to be highlighted is that the concept of national economic governance, which corresponds to the description of the basic principles of the real-time economy, was experimented with as early as the 1970s in Chile, which in fact shifts the concept to a much earlier period. The cybernetics-based operational principles of the then 'Cybersyn' project also became the basis for the concept of a 'sympathetic feedback system'.

How and if so how does a sympathetic feedback system on carbon reduction contribute to the possibility of a green transition?

First, of course, we should define what green transition is. If, for example, one of the turning points is the neutralisation of CO2 emissions (emission vs capture), then a sympathetic feedback system would help emitters to make more environmentally friendly decisions. Behind the complex-sounding concept, however, lies a fairly simple system.

The idea is that data from the value and supply chain of a product or service would combine to create a reward or disincentive logic for economic decisions, which is the 'sympathetic feedback system'. For example, if you consume a carbon-neutral or even greener product/service, you will be rewarded at the level of the final consumer. The result would be faster progress towards an actual green transition, as end-consumers are better motivated.

Christman Roos' Master's thesis (in Estonian) can be found here:

Applications of real-time economy: conceptual framework for sympathetic feedback system to reduce carbon emissions

The thesis was supervised by Veiko Lember, Senior Research Fellow at the Ragnar Nurkse Institute of Innovation and Governance and Visiting Professor at KU Leuven.