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The Global Ethos: Need, Speed, and Greed

In 2005, Thomas Friedman elegantly pieced together the global frontier for readers in The World is Flat. A book that will go down in history as one that was right on the money, Friedman delineated the interconnectedness of our new world; an environment dramatically shaped by cutting-edge technology and innovation. No longer were countries disparate unions. Rather, Earth had evolved a global brain, in which events that occur somewhere have ramifications everywhere. This was highlighted in the Great Recession, and has proved that though countries may be unique in their cultures and governments, the basic components of prosperity revolve around one’s success in trade, specialization, and collaboration-sparking innovation.

Fast-forward 7 years to 2012. The world is flat, sure, but what’s next?

A cosmopolitan by training, Vijay Vaitheeswaran is the global correspondent at The Economist and his new book Need, Speed, and Greed highlights some of the mega trends that will shape the coming decades. In his vision of our future, innovation will reign ubiquitously if and only if we can create the environments and incentives for innovators to flourish.

The book highlights several areas where this is already the case. Platforms like Innocentive and The X Prize Foundation have created opportunities for innovators to compete on solving problems through reward-based participation, essentially acting to “turbocharge the thinking process” on a wide-spread and scalable level.

Mr. Vaitheeswaran explains that we need to embrace this notion of “greed for good” to help solve our world’s grand challenges.  He believes we are entering an age where exponentially-increasing technology and the coinciding innovation will take the developing world out of poverty and spark a new era where prosperity is a global commodity.

To reach this point, however, Vaitheeswaran explains we must embrace “the new rules of global innovation”, which include accepting failure as part of the process, exercising resilience, and making proper investments in education and infrastructure.  He uses the analogy of a rising tide, which lifts all the boats except those with holes in them. By addressing the bastion upon which countries’ prosperity can be built from, we can enter this next stage of planetary prosperity and bring everyone along for the ride. It is an optimistic perspective for sure, but the tools and resources are widely available to push these ideas into reality.


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