THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation


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In my own pocket, I carry an iPhone. It is my megacity survival kit, a digital Swiss Army knife that helps me search, navigate, communicate, and coordinate with everyone and everything around me. I have apps for finding restaurants, taxis and my friends. A networked calendar keeps me in sync with my colleagues and my family. The addiction started, as all do, slowly at first. But now it governs the metabolism of our urban lives. In fact, cities everywhere are flourishing because new technologies make them even more valuable and effective as face-to-face gathering places.

Struggle Beginning in the s, men like Robert Moses began rebuilding cities around a new technology, the automobile. His disdain for the accumulated architectural canvas he inherited was no secret. To make way for the future, he bulldozed the homes of over a quarter-million unfortunate New Yorkers. Instead of paving expressways through vibrant neighborhoods, these companies hope to engineer a soft transformation of cities through computing and telecommunications. For the giants of the technology industry, smart cities are fixes for the dumb designs of the last century to prepare them for the challenges of the next, a new industrial revolution to deal with the unintended consequences of the first one.

Congestion, global warming, declining health—all can simply be computed away behind the scenes. Sensors, software, digital networks, and remote controls will automate the things we now operate manually. Where there is now waste, there will be efficiency. Where there is volatility and risk, there will be predictions and early warnings. Where there is crime and insecurity, there will be watchful eyes. Where you now stand in line, you will instead access government services online.

This revolution hopes to wrest control over cities of previously unthinkable size—ten, twenty, fifty, or even one hundred million people. But there are newcomers, too, like Cisco Systems, the master plumber of the Internet. For each, success in selling us on smart cities will pave the way for decades of growth. By the s, the construction of urban expressways in the United States had ground to a halt, stopped by a grassroots rebellion that held very different views of the role of cars, how city planning should be conducted and even the very nature of the city itself.

The first signs of a similar backlash to corporate visions of smart cities are now coming to light, as a radically different vision of how we might design and build them bubbles up from the street. The raw material and the means of producing the smart city—smartphones, social software, open-source hardware, and cheap bandwidth—are widely democratized and inexpensive.

Combining and recombining them in endless variations is cheap, easy, and fun. All over the world, a motley assortment of activists, entrepreneurs and civic hackers are tinkering their ways toward a different kind of utopia. They eschew efficiency, instead seeking to amplify and accelerate the natural sociability of city life. Instead of stockpiling big data, they build mechanisms to share it with others. Instead of optimizing government operations behind the scenes, they create digital interfaces for people to see, touch, and feel the city in completely new ways.

Instead of proprietary monopolies, they build collaborative networks. These bottom-up efforts thrive on their small scale, but hold the potential to spread virally on the Web. Everywhere that industry attempts to impose its vision of clean, computed, centrally managed order, they propose messy, decentralized and democratic alternatives.

Experimentation At the middle of this emerging battlefield sits City Hall. Encamped on one flank are industry sales teams, proffering lump sums up front in return for exclusive contracts to manage the infrastructure of cash-strapped local governments. On the other flank, civic hackers demand access to public data and infrastructure. But even as they face the worst fiscal situation in a generation—in the United States, in Europe, even in China—cities are rapidly emerging as the most innovative and agile layer of government.

Citizens routinely transcend the tyranny of geography by going online, but local governments are still the most plugged in to their daily concerns. Yet citizen expectations of innovation in public services continue to grow, while budgets shrink. Something has to give. They are deploying social media to create more responsive channels of communication with citizens, publishing vast troves of government data on the Web and sharing real-time feeds on the location of everything from subways to snowplows.

By unlocking public databases and building broadband infrastructure, many cities hope to spawn homegrown inventions that others will want to buy, and attract highly mobile entrepreneurs and creative talent. Zoom out from the local to the global scale and, like a satellite photo of the earth at night, a twinkling planet of civic laboratories comes into view. According to Living Labs Global, a Barcelona-based think tank that tracks the international trade in smart-city innovations, there are over , local governments worldwide. As they begin to experiment with smart technology, each faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities with a different pool of resources.

Much as there are mobile apps for every purpose we can imagine, smart cities are being crafted in every imaginable configuration. Each of these civic laboratories is an opportunity to invent.

Globalization—In the Name of Which Freedom?

But each local invention is also an opportunity to share with other communities. For the last few decades, as the pace of globalization accelerated, multinational corporations were the primary means by which technological innovation spread from place to place. Industry would love to play the role of Johnny Appleseed again with smart-city technology.

But cities have become highly adept at sharing and copying new innovations on their own, as evidenced in an accelerating diffusion of good ideas. Bus rapid transit, a scheme for improving the capacity of bus lines with dedicated lanes and other clever tweaks, has taken forty years to spread from its birthplace in Curitiba, Brazil, in to over cities all over the world. Today, there is a bustling trade not just in case studies and best practices of smart-city innovations but actual working technology: code, computer models, data and hardware designs.

These digital solutions can spread quite literally overnight. Technologists often want to cut to the chase, find the killer app and corner the market—this dynamic is already at work in corporate plans for cookie-cutter smart cities. But if we want to get the design of smart cities right, we need to take into account local quirks and involve citizens in their creation.

But building smart cities is going to take time. It will by necessity be a long, messy, incremental process. Crash Every city contains the DNA of its own destruction—some existing fissure that, under pressure, can erupt into conflict or cascade into collapse. Smart technologies are already fueling conflict between factions in divided cities.

The extent of the role played by social media in the urban uprisings of the Arab Spring has been hotly debated. But Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were a mere sideshow to the torrent of text messages that turned angry crowds into smart mobs, as they have done numerous times since , when they summoned some , Filipinos to protests against corrupt President Joseph Estrada. The same week officials in the United Kingdom discussed blocking the BlackBerry Messenger mobile messaging service and other social media being used to coordinate widespread urban rioting. Smart cities may also amplify a more commonplace kind of violence—that inflicted by poverty—by worsening gaps between haves and have-nots.

This may happen by design, when sensors and surveillance are used to harden borders and wall off the poor from private gated communities. Or it may simply be an unintended consequence of poorly thought-through interventions. Bhoomi, as the new digital recording system was called, was funded by the World Bank as a model for e-government reforms throughout the developing world. But it had the opposite impact.

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The village-level officials who had administered the old system had always taken bribes, but in return, they interpreted documents for the illiterate and provided advice on how to navigate complex legal procedures. Bhoomi certainly curbed village level corruption—the number of persons reporting paying bribes fell from 66 percent to 3 percent. But centralizing records merely centralized corruption. In this new computational arms race, poor communities will be at the mercy of those who can measure and control them from a distance.

Even if there is peace and equality, the smart city may come crashing down under its own weight because it is already buggy, brittle and bugged, and will only become more so. But even when their code is clean, the innards of smart cities will be so complex that so-called normal accidents will be inevitable. The only questions will be when smart cities fail, and how much damage they cause when they crash.

Before it ever comes close to collapse, we might tear down the walls of the smart city ourselves, for they will be the ultimate setup for surveillance. In the s, the Surveillance Camera Players staged sidewalk performances at camera locations in New York City to protest the rapid spread of video monitoring in public spaces.

As we install countless new devices that record, recognize, influence and control our movements and behaviors, this whimsical dissent will seem quaint in retrospection. For as the true value of these technologies for governments and corporations to spy on citizens and consumers alike becomes apparent, the seeds of distrust will bloom. In , concerned about the risks of face-recognition technology, U. A face-painting scheme based on World War I antisubmarine camouflage, CV Dazzle is designed to confuse face-recognition algorithms.

A New Civics If the history of city building in the last century tells us anything, it is that the unintended consequences of new technologies often dwarf their intended design. Motorization promised to save city dwellers from the piles of horse manure that clogged nineteenth-century streets and deliver us from a shroud of factory smoke back to nature. Instead, it scarred the countryside with sprawl and rendered us sedentary and obese.

We can stack the deck and improve the odds, but we need to completely rethink our approach to the opportunities and challenges of building smart cities. Smith was unaware that the native inhabitants also suffered from the pathogens brought by the Europeans, as it was only one century after Smith that Pasteur and Koch developed the germ theory of disease.

Smith was Scottish, but his outlook was global. How would this happen, according to Smith? We are living at the moment, after several waves of globalization that I will soon discuss, in which an equality of courage and force across the world is finally taking hold. This is seen most vividly in the recent economic rise of the great powers of Asia, including China and India. These Asian giants are no longer under the domineering sway of European or American power.

We must ask ourselves about the kind of world that will emerge in a world of more disbursed power. Europeans colonized the Americas and later Australia at horrific costs to the native inhabitants. They incorporated these new lands and parts of coastal Asia and North Africa into a global production system based on slave production in the colonies and global-scale sea-borne trade. As their economic and military power rose, the European states became not only colonizers but imperial powers across the Americas, North Africa and Asia. Interestingly, they did not succeed in colonizing sub-Saharan Africa until the second half of the 19th century, largely because malaria was a barrier to European colonization and imperial rule until the Europeans discovered and mass produced the anti-malarial quinine extracted from the bark of the South American cinchona tree.

Trade flows by empire and commodities Cotton, sugar, coffee, gold and slave economy. I would highlight a few of the key characteristics of this first phase of global capitalism, dating roughly from to First, it produced a truly global economy. Second, it was incredibly dynamic—the very hallmark of capitalism.

It is remarkably dynamic. It was driven by the lust for profits, visions of glory, and yearnings for great wealth. It produced outcomes that are unimaginable in scale and scope. We should reflect that before the phone, the radio, the telegraph, indeed any form of rapid communications, multinational companies and European imperial governments were straddling the world in remarkable feats of scale, scope, and sheer logistics.

Third, of course, this world of commercial capitalism was indescribably brutal. The Europeans were not just colonizers; they were mass murderers and mass enslavers. We have smoothed over this brutality in our books and teachings, but it is plain to see. There is a fourth point as well. Commercial capitalism was mercantilist, meaning that it emerged as an alliance of companies like the East India Company and government. The European navies protected their merchant fleets. Business and government colluded at every turn.

Economic historians like E. Wrigley have cogently explained that an organic economy can hardly rise above subsistence.


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The steam engine allowed the breakthrough beyond subsistence, by harnessing the vast energy stored in fossil fuels. The Industrial Age transformed the world and created a world industrial economy. The inventions of Daimler and Benz give the world the internal combustion engine and the automobile age. On and on it has gone, until today we are the beneficiaries of the information revolution, in which every day a new breakthrough—in my view is as consequential as any of the breakthroughs of the past—pours forth.

Our capacity to manage, manipulate, store, and transmit data will completely transform the world economy once again. We see this happening before our eyes. Just yesterday, DeepMind of Google announced a new breakthrough in artificial intelligence with a neural network now separated from the computer memory, which allows for a massive expansion in artificial intelligence, computational power, and machine learning.

Discoveries like these are coming every day. Of course, what endogenous growth meant beginning around was persistent economic growth. But another notable fact from until today has been differential economic growth across the world map. At the beginning of the new economic era, one country and one country alone had an Industrial Revolution—and that was Britain.

Then, the Industrial Revolution started to spread. It spread next to next-door, to France, and then in the s, to Germany and to the United States, and from then to more and more parts of the world. But, one part of the world, Western Europe and the United States also known as the North Atlantic achieved early economic growth that was sustained for two centuries. What had been established as the Western World between and , became a dominant Western World in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The economic dominance of the Western World more accurately, the North Atlantic regions of Europe and North America, plus Australia, New Zealand, and Japan peaked around , at which time the Western predominance very slowly began to subside as Asia countries began to achieve rapid economic growth. That could be dangerous for your political control.


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The lack of education during the colonial era is one of the key reasons why Africa was held back for more than a century. When Mozambique finally gained independence from Portugal in , the country had just a handful of African high-school graduates. Reform can occur without imperial rule from the outside as happened in Japan, for example. After World War II, the information age gave birth to Silicon Valley, with Berkeley, Stanford, the semiconductor revolution and the military complexes of California, giving rise to another zone of innovation. This made three major zones of innovation. Remarkably, Korea, Japan, and China taken together are producing more patents in total than Europe or the United States.

Quest for a New Utopia – The Cairo Review of Global Affairs

Yet my guess is that this divide will prove to be a transitory phenomenon and that a fairly unified Northeast Asian economic community will be core a feature of the 21st century. I think that the North-Atlantic-led world economy is gradually being replaced by a multipolar world in which East Asia, and potentially Southern Asia, because major global centers of power, innovation, and dynamism. Global poverty rate vs. The rapid decline of global poverty has indeed produced so much hope that the member states of the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs in September SDG 1 calls on the world to end extreme poverty—end it completely—by The UN member states are not radicals.

They are sober-headed. The fact that these governments could envision the end of extreme poverty by means that it is feasible, though it is by no means guaranteed. What then are the main lessons of this era of convergence? First, the rise of Northeast Asia is ending several centuries in which the North Atlantic countries have been ascendant — and dominant — Second, the end of extreme poverty in northeast Asia presages the end of extreme poverty globally.

East Asia provides an important example and role model for the countries of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa on how to eliminate extreme poverty. Third, global-scale technological systems have played a central role, perhaps the central role, in global convergence. We live in a world of global-scale tehno-economic systems. In a few hours, when I fly home from Germany, I will get on a plane made by one of two producers, Airbus or Boeing. The pilots will fly the jet home using globally agreed and supervised protocols and technologies.

As soon as I land, my mobile phone will immediately restore connectivity to the Internet, as it does all over the world. These are all global systems, built for global-scale high performance, and we should be grateful for that. The once-laggard countries now leapfrogging economic development are achieving success by tapping into these global systems.

I emphasize this point because it is sometimes overlooked or hidden from view. So, we need a sophisticated globalization and a technology-based globalization, but we also need a decency-based and environmentally sustainable globalization. The world needs a new globalization that is not only dynamic in terms of economic growth, but also fair in terms of the sharing of prosperity, and sustainable in terms of environmental impacts. This triumvirate of economic, social, and environmental objectives has an official name adopted by the UN member states: sustainable development.

We are currently far off course to achieving sustainable development. Consider my own country, the United States. For the first time, we have a globally agreed framework for globalization. This framework can serve as the basis for actions to ensure that globalization is productive, fair, and sustainable. It can serve as a basis for engagement of the business sector, the universities, the politicians, civil society, the religious leaders, and other key groups in our society.

I believe there is a phenomenal value to having a globally agreed framework. In dozens of countries around the world there is already an active effort to put the SDGs into practice. I urge the wonderful Humanistic Management Network to embrace the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for teaching, training, and business management, one that can help to infuse ethical practices into individual businesses and the global economy.

What I am hoping is that we can turn the SDGs into real life, in politics, the platforms of political parties, the agendas of universities, and the behaviors and missions of businesses. But, it is our challenge now, and it is urgent that we succeed. What are the right modes for success? The SDGs are the right starting point, because they give us a direction, a telos end goal.

He invented political science to solve the problem of achieving the end-goal of human happiness eudaimonia through the right kinds of politics. We need to cultivate the virtues and ethics that will promote sustainable development.

Alstom Avelia Horizon

We need to pay special attention to empowering the disempowered. And, of course, we need expertise mobilized through active deliberation and fearless, unbiased analysis that universities are best at mobilizing. All of this is to say we have a very, very large agenda to ensure that the next era of globalization truly serves the human good. Yet we have vast knowledge, both technical and ethical, many tools at our disposal, and all the reasons in the world to work together to succeed. Skip to main content Skip to sections.

Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Globalization—In the Name of Which Freedom? Smith continues his reasoning about the two momentous discoveries as follows: Their consequences have already been very great; but, in the short period of between two and three centuries which have elapsed since these discoveries were made, it is impossible that the whole extent of their consequences can have been seen.

Yet Smith goes on as follows: To the natives, however, both of the East and West Indies, all the commercial benefits which can have resulted from those events have been sunk and lost in the dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned. By , there was a capitalist global economy run by the Europeans, illustrated by the map of empires in Fig.

Open image in new window. This was a world already defined by intense global commerce in which several new global industries had developed: cotton for textiles; sugar and tobacco grown by slaves in the Americas; coffee grown in Asia and Africa. And of course there was the insatiable quest for gold and silver from the mines of the Americas and later southeast Asia.

The major commodity trade flows are shown in Fig. The second wave of globalization began around the very same moment that Adam Smith published the Wealth of Nations. Figure 3. Figure 4 offers a graphical depiction of what this breakthrough meant for the world economy. It shows the estimate of world output produced by the late economic historian Angus Maddison. We see the momentous change around Population followed the same trend.

THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation
THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation
THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation
THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation
THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation
THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation
THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation
THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation THE YEAR 2100: Utopia on The Horizon: A New World for Our Next Generation

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