The past couple of days I have been reading The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab, which looks at a number of global, economic, and societal issues involved with the current surge of technology.
One issue that I thought was most relevant recently was raised in regards to domestic policy regarding innovation. Schwab describes how countries who embrace technological changes are best placed to reap “considerable economic and financial benefits.”
In contrast, Shwab continues, countries who refuse to adapt to new technological progress in favour of continuing their own societal norms are putting themselves at risk. By giving advantages to domestic producers and blocking foreign competition, Schwab writes, nations risk isolating themselves from foreign innovation and thus becoming “laggards of the new digital economy.”
What Schwab writes sounds exactly like what Donald Trump is promising in his domestic policy. Trump’s decision to invest in domestic fossil fuel production, in addition to his “Buy American, Hire American,” seems an exact example of what Schwab is describing. In investing in old technology and putting up barriers to foreign innovation, while nations like China and India investing billions in renewable energy technology, Trump risks putting America in a back-peddle as the rest of the world develops around it.
One potential reason for this circumstance is a simple ignorance to the impact that technology has on the economy;
In all moments of major technological change, people companies, and institutions feel the depth of the change, but they are often overwhelmed by it, out of sheer ignorance of its affects (Manuel Castells)
It is imperative, then, that movements like March for Science are able to educate and not just shake the boat. Donald Trump is the result of a grassroots movement, and thus the current technological and economical climate of the world must make its way to the grassroots. There is no doubt in my mind that these people have truly been left worse-off by changes in economics and politics, but it must be made apparent that a position of isolation and anti-innovation will lead down a worse path than embracing technological process.