Innovation is reducing the actual distance between peoples, increasing knowledge of each other's cultures and exposing some stark differences. The western expectation that everyone should be like us is very dangerous. The intollerance in the west towards other cultures, traditions and values damages the west and makes impossible harmonious interaction most people seek.

We've seen this before. In 1947 Ruth Benedict published "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword", looking at the nature of Japanese culture. Benedict worked in Japan from June 1944 as a cultural anthropologist. She treats Japan's culture and American culture with equal merit. Such a stance is noticably missing today when the USA enters Afghanistan or Iraq.

There are nightly TV reports that give us the feeling of knowledge and intimacy, yet somehow intollerance is rising not declining. For instance in Iraq football is the round-ball game American's call soccer. Iraq had a football league that collapsed during the invasion. Re-opening that league would have been one way to show that Iraq was returning to normal. It didn't happen. Worst, the most impressive non-mosque public building in many cities is the football stadium. American's have taken them over and used them to park tanks and military vehicles. It's an example of incomprehension about what's important to other people.

It's false to imagine that in a globalized world everyone will be more like "me" and that I won't need to change my own values.

New Understanding Leads to New Possibilities

New tools always allow those who are ready, to "see" what was not seeable before. There are major socio-economic problems in the world, a a few million people using computers might just be able to make a difference. Frank Moss at MIT Media Lab believes that entrepreneurs will be incredibly important in the next 20 years. People workling together on Internet based networks will imagine new innovations in ways that they never could before.

One obvious application is the provision of health care without hospitals and perhaps without doctors.
A related idea is the use of health information to enable people to live more healthy lives.
An untapped resource is the wisdom and knowledge of older citizens. We should be able to extend the length of their productive lives and expand their capabilities.
There are educational possibilities of ICT that are un-realised.
Millions of kids using cell phones are creating content today, although they don't know it, perhaps.
We will see millions of people actively using the Internet to create their own content. That will change the meaning of what it is to be a creative person. Blogs are only the beginning.

Sharing ideas leads to the making of new and unexpected "connections". This process may expose "the pattern that connects" (Gregory Bateson) and make an entirely now insight possible. Sharing data or information is the key to future innovation.

The Need for Global Rules of Trade

If you look at the page on National Innovation Strategy, you will see that most countries see grants and low cost finance as critical to their innovation strategy. Special treatment of R&D expenditure is virtually everywhere. Then they add tax breaks, export incentives, and assistance with training staff, subsidies for creating employment, municipal tax holidays and endless other bonuses for local industry. All this creates a situation where trade occurs on a wildly distorted landscape which is totally contary to all the best rules of economics.

Commercial Law needs to be fairly similar from country to country so that traders can have confidence that in the courts of any country they trade into, if a dispute arises thjey will be treated according to the law.

Taxes need not be the same from country to country, but taxation needs to transparent both when it is levied and when it's not levied. Tax havens need to operate under strict international conditions. Both companies and individuals need to pay fair and certian taxes.

Human capital needs more freedom to move across the world. This is an inevitable consequence of globalization.

World Health and great disparity between the rich and the poor is an issue that must be addressed or out failure to do so will cause a disaster such as an epidemic that will affect the whole world.

Environmental destruction is real. At base: we all live because the planet's environment can sustain both us and our activities. BUT our activities are causing global warming. Our activities are polluting the seas and destroying all the larger fish and sea birds. Our activiies are destroying the diversity of nature. We have seen on a small scale what happens when people abuse their environment. The environment finds a way to survive, and the people are destroyed. Witness the many man-made deserts around the world or Easter Island. Look at the North Sea Cod fishery.

Somehow we need to create a democraticly based world forum that can deal with the issues of International Law, World Health, the rules of fair trade, and disputes between countries.

The Knowledge Society

A knowledge society does not exist in a country or in any particular economy. A knowledge society in this modern world is independent of geography. There is in the notion of a knowledge-based economy both a promise and a considerable degree of risk. In the first instance this seems to offer a great need for training and education. Skilled people will be in demand. But the skilled people the economy want's most are never going to be available. The latest "new thing" comes along and employers are suddenly looking for people with 3 years experience to fill a "gap" in the labour force.

A threat that seems to hang over all knowledge workers is this: very few employers understand what they do. Hence the tasks expected of them are often badly considered. Knowledge workers need to be trusted and encouraged to contibute their knowledge and to share widely what they know. Too often they are forced to work in silos, where any information they have is contained. This sort of constraint misunderstands the key principles of knowledge management, and it's purpose.