Governing the Future
How do you govern the independent?
How do you sell mutual funds to the cash-less?
How do you make policy for the ones rewriting the economy?
How does state education educate the collaborative commons?
How do you attempt to structure the distributed?
How do you slow-down the hyper-mobile?
Governing the follow through of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be incredibly hard and fascinating to watch. If it is the old governing the young, the young will revolt. If it is the young governing the old, they will move quickly and not explain their policy well. Success is likely found in the middle; change as the future demands but ensure all those who are able are along for the ride.
“The danger here is that a two-speed 4IR transformation could unfold, with government policies continuously lagging behind. New collaborative, agile governance models will have to be developed.”
“The speed, complexity, and virtual nature of change however makes it difficult to understand the urgent need for agile policy formulation. This is exacerbated by the widening gap between the "winners and losers" of the 4IR, which is undermining social and national cohesion and reinforcing the notion of "winner takes all.”- Klaus Schwab
Klaus lays out 3 basic options for the governance structure of the future. In the curious case of America the first is the one that happened, the second is the one that will happen and the third is the one that should happen. Each are as complicated as the next.
1. Protect those who have been left behind from the transformative changes brought by the 4IR, thereby gaining short-term political advantage…..
This is the one that did happen, with a slight variation; Donald Trump didn’t protect those who feel left behind by the 4IR, he tricked them. Positively hoodwinked. A masterclass in bullshit. Hindsight is a convenient thing to lean on, but in hindsight (sigh), it seems fairly obvious. Even in rural Maine you felt the industrial pessimism and the back-road towns where you genuinely wonder what it’s residents do for a living in 2019. He wanted short-term political advantage so he played on people’s fear and he won.
2. Follow a laissez-faire policy, which requires the business community to be ready and able to serve as a strong catalyst and mover.
It seems this will happen. Education, governance and everything in between will fragment, distribute and privatize and maybe this will be a good thing. In the hierarchy of adaptability and the willingness to face change and pivot it goes industry, then the non-profit sector in the next town over and then the government in the next state. It’s not even close. FAMGA and it’s spin-offs will have a big role to play.
3. Mobilize all forces to fully embrace the 4IR and achieve a leadership position, recognizing that the principle of the future global economy will no longer reflect Adam Smith's division of comparative advantages, but rather a world characterized by a complex interplay between platforms and systems that cross national boundaries.
This is what should happen. The friction forces of the day ALREADY are that economics are global put politics are national. Trump goes on the campaign trail telling everyone they’ve been screwed by China but they’ve never considered the price of steel. He won votes and sold more MAGA hats but will lose the long term stand-off. Here Klaus is basically swinging for the fences and this actually happening depends on the outcome of our global agreements.