Posted by Bob Boorstin, Director, Public Policy
On the eve of the G-20 summit, where world leaders are gathering in an environment of economic uncertainty, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was in Pittsburgh to talk about what futurist Alvin Toffler described as “that great, growling engine of change — technology” and its impact on economic growth.
We’ll be posting video of Eric’s speech shortly, but here are some of the key observations he shared at a speech before the Pittsburgh Technology Council and other Pittsburghers:
- History has shown us that cutting-edge technology and the free, open flow of information are key drivers of economic growth. Call it “Gutenberg’s Law”: there’s a clear correlation between the amount of information available to the average citizen and the economic growth and progress of that citizen’s country. From the printing press to the telegraph to the Internet, each has enabled more exchange of ideas and sharing of information, resulting in a corresponding boost to economic progress.
- Today, we are only at the very cusp of the technological revolution that the rise of the Internet will bring. Technology is changing almost everything about how we live, work, and play. Networks are getting ever-faster, data is being generated at an exponential rate, and devices are becoming faster and more powerful, able to store and do more even as they shrink. That means changes in the way we connect and communicate; changes in how we generate, find, and use information; and changes in how we interact with business and government.
- Technology has driven down barriers to entry in terms of knowledge, scale, cost, and geography, leading to increased competition on a global scale. Today’s entrepreneurs can leverage the Internet and technology in a way that only the largest multinational could afford 10 or 15 years ago. Size is no barrier to competition. This trend isn’t unique to the West — it’s visible all around the world, especially when it comes to clever business applications for mobile.
What does it all mean? The G-20 should look across the globe — from Pittsburgh to Nairobi — and recognize how technology and innovation can help us pull this economy up out of the morass, embrace the disruption, and try to build and sustain long-term economic growth.