Third Industrial Revolution
The Swiss mountain town of Davos has gone quiet. About a fortnight ago, however, it was abuzz with talk of the fourth industrial revolution: Robots, 3D-printed human organs, driverless cars. Soon it will be time to turn to another global confab, to celebrate India's preparations to embrace the first industrial revolution.
As global elites gathered in Davos this week, the World Economic Forum released a daunting survey that estimates that 5 million jobs will be lost across the world in coming years to robotic automation. Oxfam also reported this week that 62 ultra-rich individuals held as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet -- inequality too vast to last. While globalization and rapid technological advance empower some with unprecedented possibilities, they dispossess others, causing growing gaps in power and wealth that lead in turn to fear, resentment and violence. In this one world a race is on between the two consequences of change. As Jo Confino writes from Davos, "rapid advances in technology are pulling the world in opposite directions."(continued)
Even before the "Night of Shame" on New Year's Eve in Cologne further fueled an already fervent anti-foreigner backlash, German leaders were desperately looking to Turkey to stem the flow of refugees headed to Europe from the war-torn Mideast. Now 10 German tourists have lost their lives at the foot of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. They are the victims of yet another suicide bombing by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the wake of Turkey's decision last July to allow U.S. warplanes to fly from its soil to attack militant positions in Syria. Along the old route of the Orient Express, violence and disorder are weaving an interrelated and self-reinforcing pattern of crises that will be hard to unravel. (continued)
What lurks behind the incapacity to resolve the destabilizing crises of North Korea's latest nuclear test and Saudi Arabia's frontal clash with Iran are the realpolitik considerations of Russia, China and the United States. (continued)
This week marked an historic milestone: More than 1 million refugees and migrants fleeing the global disorder of civil war, poverty and persecution this year landed on Europe's doorstep. It is the largest crisis of displaced people since world war ravaged the European continent seven decades ago. (continued)
To become a self-conscious "global thinking circuit," the virtual territory of the Internet needs a map that charts the currents and connects the dots of the worldwide conversation. Who are the most influential voices, and how do their ideas spread? This week, The WorldPost joined with the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Zurich to produce such a map, the 2015 Global Thought Leaders Index, which, for the first time, analyzes not only the dominant English-language infosphere, but also the other top language areas of Spanish and Chinese, as well as German. One notable result, as I report in my summary of the project, is that The WorldPost, as the global portal of the Huffington Post, has emerged in the two years since we launched as a top platform for the cross-pollination of ideas beyond borders. (continued)
Whatever the final outcome, the United Nations climate summit convening in Paris is already a unique event in the history of the planet. Using the scientific tool of reasoned projection, the most self-aware and conscious species, Homo sapiens, has collectively peered into the times ahead and seen the ruinous impact on generations to come from burning ever more carbon to fuel our present industrialized desire. Motivated by an ethics of the future, top leaders from across the world have resolved to preempt further damage to the fragile ecology of Earth's livable climate that has so far allowed human civilization to flourish. Whether that resolve is sufficient to meet the mounting challenge in a meaningful time frame is the existential question. (continued)
NEW DELHI -- At the Paris climate talks, the international community should resolve to phase out fossil fuel power plants and instead support biofuels and solar -- two technologies that have rapidly advanced to become competitive, efficient and sustainable.
The Turkish downing of a Russian jet that crossed into its territory while bombing targets in Syria complicates even further the play of contraries in an already bewildering set of Mideast conflicts. The episode introduces a fresh tension that could well pit NATO, of which Turkey is a member, against what Gopalkrishna Gandhi calls a fledgling new NATO, or New Anti-Terror Organization, that French President François Hollande is trying to organize globally in the wake of the Paris attacks. Hollande meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week. (continued)
LILLE, France -- The Internet of Things and the path to the zero marginal cost society is already coming into being. Much remains to be implemented, but we can say for certain that a movement has been launched.
The attacks claimed by the self-described Islamic State in Paris have done more than spread fear across the West. They have upended our concepts of war, security and alliances in a connected yet disintegrating world -- a world in which no superpower or group of states can impose order. As the "End of Power" author Moisés Naím notes, ISIS has breached that perimeter that above all defines strong states: a monopoly over violence. It has shifted the battlefield to the soft targets of cafes and concert halls. As Lucia Annunziata writes from Italy, "The Third World War, whether you want to believe it or not, is already underway ... and Europe is its theater." The savvy of ISIS operatives has also called into question whether we can maintain both open borders and encrypted cyberspace. They have shown that distributed networks of angry youth at the margins of European society, who bond on the Internet instead of at the mosque, are beyond the reach of the drone strikes aimed at decapitating their leadership in the Mideast. As the Aspen Institute's Charlie Firestone writes in his analysis of the "guerilla cyber-warfare" declared by the Anonymous hackers against ISIS: "The Westphalian concept of sovereign nations dealing with each other as states has limited application to a world where networks are the dominant form of organization." (continued)
We need to add a new dimension to the Golden Rule: you shall do unto the next generation what you wished the previous generation had done to you. We have no right to hand over a planet that is in a more miserable condition than the planet we ourselves have had the good fortune to live on.
Pent-up democratic aspirations were unleashed this week in Myanmar's first free election in decades, resulting in a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition party. But as Mark Famaner and Hanna Hindstrom point out, it is "democracy on a leash" as the long-standing military rulers retain a constraining foothold through the current constitutional arrangement. It remains to be seen if Suu Kyi's elected government will be "above" those constraints, as she has boldly asserted. Writing from Yangon, Ma Thida lays out the many issues in the political transition ahead. Harrison Akins reminds us that the "shadow" over Myanmar's democratic turn is the continuing persecution and discrimination against the Muslim Rohingya minority. If it stabilizes, Myanmar could have a bright future. It sits between the two fastest growing economies in the world, India and China, the second of which is revitalizing the ancient Silk Road trading route that George Yeo, Singapore's former foreign minister, sees as making Eurasia the driver of the future global economy. (continued)
People aren't going to be dragged reluctantly into tomorrow's low-carbon economy, looking back mournfully over their shoulder at the familiar world they're leaving behind. It has to be a world that is so enticing, so technologically cutting-edge and so affordable that they will demand the benefits of a sustainable world.
Make no mistake -- a new future is being built. There will be winners. There will be losers. Nations will prosper. Nations will stumble. How quickly and well that future is built matters to our kids and grandkids and those of future generations unborn.
In the next phase of our global economy, we will see experimentation and ultimately adoption of peer-to-peer models where value creation mirrors value capture and the people who actually provide the value in each marketplace reap most of the benefits.
We are on the cusp of a promising new economic era, with far-reaching benefits for humankind. What's required now is a global commitment to facilitate the transition to a digitalized green economy if we are to avert catastrophic climate change and create a more prosperous and sustainable society.
BEIJING -- The title of Barack Obama's pre-presidential biography is "The Audacity of Hope." Chinese President Xi Jinping has written his own document released this week -- The Communist Party's 13th five-year plan -- that might be titled "The Audacity of the Chinese Dream." This blueprint for China's future signals the most momentous shift in direction since the death of Mao and Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening up in 1978. Not a leader to rest on the laurels of his country's remarkable success so far in rising to the top ranks of the global economy, Xi wants to leap over the "middle-income trap" in which development becomes stuck in a low-wage manufacturing export economy. To do that, he needs to avoid, in his own words, the "Thucydides trap" of conflict between China as a rising power and the U.S. as the established power so instability does not disrupt growth prospects. (continued)
BEIJING -- China's future development is about economic transformation. Through green growth and the application of Internet technologies, China can spur new opportunities and foster global sustainable development.