America will dominate the 21st century – economically and culturally – thanks to our dominance in technology.
Mobile technologies, supplemented by social connectivity, integrated with real-time data, enhanced by location-aware services and all supported by infinitely scalable yet highly personalized digital platforms will determine our future. These meta-offerings, delivering growth-spurring anytime, anywhere connectivity to all people and things, are each led by uniquely American businesses.
Apple makes the very best mobile computing devices in the world. Facebook and Twitter connect us all. Google delivers timely, personalized, location-specific data to anyone, for free. The best business software, for companies of all sizes, is developed by Microsoft. There are many other examples, of course, and in virtually every case, an American company and American innovation has the lead. Second-place isn’t even close.
Nearly as important, funding for critical and continuous innovation, everything from Big Banks and crowdfunding, to venture capital, philanthropy and small business loans, are American strengths. America’s universities – public and private – are the best in the world. These centers are the catalysts of innovation.
No nation offers immigrants more opportunity for success. No nation is more secure. Our well runs deep.
Nearly Unlimited Potential
We do not rule all areas of technology, of course. America is just one of several leaders in biotech. That said, American-led businesses and research labs are aggressively targeting rather extraordinary opportunities to extend life, explore the mind, and re-construct severely damaged bodies. Expect America to be the premier leader in biotech very soon.
In the area of green technology, America is lacking. This despite the billions thrown at this potentially vital industry. On the plus side, however, given our massive reserves of oil, coal and natural gas, America’s own energy future is secure. There are extremely few developed economies that can say the same.
America’s strengths are so many and so vast, in fact, that it will be hard to not dominate the 21st century.
Unfortunately, there are two obvious, pressing issues that limit our nation’s future and impede individual joy and prosperity. They are our schools and our safety net, both of which are constructed for an America that no longer exists.
Our public schools, those K12, government-run institutions nearly all of us attended, are in embarrassingly bad shape. In larger cities, especially, they are a near-invisible tragedy. I offer no magic bullet, merely an admonition: the current model of government-funded, union-led, community-based schools is clearly failing our children.
Given this, we should welcome as much change, innovation and disruption in K12 education as we do in Silicon Valley. Yes, this will likely significantly minimize the power of government-employed unions. If this matters to you, my only suggestion is that you think of the nation and the nation’s children first.
Opportunity Not Inequality
The other national failing is the very real potential of continuous technological change to leave many of our citizens in a semi-permanent economic prison. Understand: I am not speaking of inequality, but misery. Fighting to stop inequality is too often an angry, jealous battle to bring down those at the top. Forget that Larry Ellison owns an island or that Google’s founders have their own private jets to travel in – or that your neighbors are better off than you. Inequality is not the issue. Not providing adequate education, medical care and opportunities to positively contribute to society and achieve prosperity are the real failings we must address.
In retail, for example, America’s Amazon.com and WalMart are global leaders. Their innovations create numerous savings which puts money in our pockets everyday. They also place many out of work and force many more into jobs at barely livable wages. It is a national responsibility to correct this.
Again, I cannot divine any singular path toward resolving this. Therefore, I urge those who fear the power of the government to instead open themselves up to possible innovative solutions which are led partly or even exclusively by government. Yes, funded by taxpayers. This may be the only way to ensure health, education and opportunity for all.
Admittedly, government solutions too often transform into vampires, never dying, feeding off others, caring only about themselves. This is a risk I nonetheless think we should take.
The Silicon Valley – Washington, DC Nexus of Power
America will lead the 21st century, just as we did the 20th. We have the best and the most of the stuff required to retain our current lofty status, and build upon it. Our people and smarts and money and technology – led by Silicon Valley – will usher the world into a new age of abundance, connectivity, innovation and sharing.
Our attention must now focus on ensuring the benefits of each of these flow justly to all our citizens.
It is not surprising that a new nexus of power, linking Silicon Valley and Washington, DC is quickly forming. One has the money, the other has the power.
This new nexus will become as important, as integrated, as accepted and as fruitful as the ties that bound New York and Washington, DC in the prior century. Let us welcome this transformative shift in power and money and values.
Let us also keep vigilant. It’s okay to have more. It’s not okay to leave our fellow Americans behind.
Image courtesy of Flickr.