Barrett Nash is currently competing in the XPRIZE Visioneers challenge., his second challenge to-date. We asked him to write for the blog from his passion, as a nod to our world-class innovators and how their worldview informs their work.
The world is an unfair place, rarely do we analyze just how unfair. At the current rate of economic growth, it would take more than 300 years for the average citizen of an emerging market country to have the same GDP per person as the average citizen of the United States of America. This is bullsh*t.
The world shouldn’t be like this. The world should be flat, where a child’s life should not be defined by being born in Burundi or Nepal or Haiti, but by their hard work and ingenuity. No serious policymaker would ever condone Greece being three hundred years behind Germany, or Mississippi being three hundred years behind California. It is an absurd proposition that the world is complacent with some countries being generations upon generations behind the West.
Currently, the measure for progress in emerging markets is steady and iterative year on year economic growth. This is meaningful; lives are being lifted out of poverty in ever greater numbers, the world is becoming a better place. Yet, the change is happening far too slowly. Instead of letting these lost generations go squandered, the change makers of the world need to reimagine opportunity, to make the world a flat playing field, to dare to imagine how what is taking centuries can be done in months.
I personally believe that this isn’t just idealism. I see a future where we remix the incredible technology that already permeates emerging markets and use it in ever more imaginative ways. Imagine a time when a villager in Rwanda can join the internet economy as a digital micro-freelancer and a new generation of MOOCs can educate entry-level users in a way that lets them climb the economic ladder. This is the same world where 3D printers will equip small communities to produce essentials, like eyeglasses, for themselves, instead of having them shipped from the far side of the world. The technology revolution hasn’t even begun in earnest in these emerging markets yet, where most still see a smartphone as nothing but a window to Facebook or WhatsApp. Breaking free from the traditional economic development story, and instead embracing the disruptive spirit that built the world’s most innovative companies, will create a new generation of ideas where the idea of universal opportunity is not just nascent idealism but something that be hacked and resolved. The world would be a more fair place for being more radical.