One of my favorite ways to pass time is to have intellectual debates with people who I find interesting and, more often than not bring very alternate views to the discussion. I choose them selectively but suffice to say, I have had my fair share of conversations and am always on the lookout for more.
One such recent event involved a sit down with Shara on the idea of how a unified world would come into being and if the democratization of data through technology is the right way to do it. To give the discussion credit, it did start off with us debating about the use of race-based politics within a country and how it serves ( or hardly does serve) a purpose to improve the country as a whole. In Malaysia, race-based politics is a norm so much so that we have different political parties representing the major races in Malaysia. While one could always dismiss the use of such a notion easily, I decided to play devil’s advocate with Shara just to see where the conversation would lead us and wow did it take off.
To skip to the more interesting and politically appropriate part of the conversation, the argument was that, as more and more data was democratized, and is able to reach a significantly larger part of the population, the easier it is to level the playing field between countries and to offset the advantages and disadvantages each individual country possesses. This allows the world to completely change and instead function under a more federated model of government. To quote a line from Shara, “Imagine a world where our banking system is run by the Swiss and our education system by the British and the Americans or even as proposed by Sir Ken Robinson“. There would be no need for governments based on countries but instead, (to rope in a concept I learnt while watching ‘Yes, Prime Minister’) burrows and burrow representatives who then elect a council representative to the Unified Government of the World. A burrow here could be defined as a small neighborhood or even ones large enough so each resident or business in the area actually knew their local elected representative and had a say in the way things ran within that burrow for instance with regards to crime, cleanliness and having adequate supplies of necessities.
What this would entail is a non-corrupt, true democratic global world in which everyone gets a living chance and not be limited due to the resources or lack thereof and in addition, we would have people who were specialists in their fields because they are driven by true passion for momentum. We would create a world like ‘Eureka’ where the menial work gets automated or performed by robots such as cleaning and cooking and washing. This removes the burden from placing such tasks on us and thus allowing us to focus completely on what we fancy allowing us to explore those fields beyond our wildest dreams. The only real commodity is knowledge and how it contributes to the well being of yourself and the world. Ideas that will truly impact the world forever. Take a moment to imagine a world where poverty is eradicated and everybody works towards a greater good instead of your own personal selfish notions. Very utopian perhaps but according to our estimates not very far off.
Shara’s argument is that we have seen tremendous progress just by comparing where we are now to a decade before that, and better still, two decades before. Being an avid reader of Wired Magazine, I tend to agree as well. We are at the peak of innovation. Startups are booming and people are challenging each other like never before to make ideas into reality and with each step of the way, hoping to make a slightly bigger impact on the world. Granted we have not seen many startups that target the bottom of the pyramid just yet, this might not be the that bad at all. What we theorized was, that economies of scale will eventually allow trickles through the cracks at the very saturated top of the pyramid, or who knows, perhaps someday, the bottom of the pyramid might just seem sexy enough for entrepreneurs to start targeting and innovating upon.
What remains to be seen is how much influence the current governments, financial institutions and legal entities have, to maintain their cozy positions, and if they will instead switch sides to support the cause ? One such government that I have personally seen and interacted with recently, and is slowly proving to be a beacon of hope is Singapore. They have taken significant steps towards encouraging entrepreneurship and disruptions of the current way of doing things, acknowledging that without loosening the grip just a little bit, everyone loses. Certain states in the US have done the same and have revived the old American dream, only this time, slowly but surely, finding ways to start allowing foreigners to cross borders and share that very same dream through their established services and companies realizing that it could only bring gain and good fortune for the masses within the country. These examples have started driving more conventional governments to start opening up their borders such as Japan, a country who previously ran their entire telecommunication networks behind a walled garden, and who now encourages developers both from within and outside to break down the walls by embracing technologies without borders such as the Apple iOS and the Google Android OS.
One can only hope that they can see all these changes within their lifetime and when these changes do happen, the only question that should remain unanswered is “What’s next ?”