Summary by the Author 

Click this text to start editing. This multi-element block is great for showcasing a particular feature or aspect of your business. It could be a signature product, a picture of your entire staff, an image or your physical location, etc. Double click the image to customize it, edit the text, and choose a call-to-action for you button - what do you want people to do now?

Learn More

My purpose for writing this book stemmed from a perceived need to remove certain myths about technology particularly in the context of its accelerating development. Some of the most popular remarks are that technology is taken away our jobs it has reached a level of convenience where it should be stopped or it presents a real danger for the future of humanity. While part of those concerns may be legitimate, the big picture is often missed leading to three stratification in our society: the indifferentists, the antagonists and the protagonists. According to 2014 survey 51% of Canadian feel that they need modern technology. South of the border 54% of American are optimistic about the coming technological changes. A deeper examination of the position taken can be explained by either a lack of information or deep rooted beliefs, education or any combination thereof in spite of the abundant information available on the subject matter.

Beliefs affect choices, which in turn affect action, one may choose to ignore the impact of technology or be predisposed to it. Those who adopt the former position will have robbed themselves of the opportunities that the evolution of technology will bring forward as never before. Those choosing the latter position, will be more informed of the benefits and potential risks ahead but also will participate in this new development. At the beginning of the book I have compared the resilience of our fellow humans with that of a stubborn boxer whose efforts are only encouraged by each knockdown.

Indeed, we have come from a long way. In fact, the history of technology starts with the first axe maker. My review of technological progress, for convenience sake, covers the period from the Renaissance to the first decade of the current millennium not ignoring the contribution of the Middle Ages from the Ancient civilizations. I felt that the past needed to be acknowledged so that the reader can have a good understanding of the accelerating pace of technology, unstoppable despite political and religious strictures. Some discoveries, inventions an innovations of the Renaissance can be considered the launching base of our current technology particularly in the areas of Agriculture, Health, Education and Energy. In fact, the name of certain inventors are still being used today. I have also underlined the enormous socioeconomic impact of these changes such as the development of urbanization, the commoditization of time, the emergence of mass production thereby creating the middle class. People moved from the suburb to the city to be closer to their work intensifying transportation and unfortunately pollution.

By the end of the First industrial Revolution many millionaires won their fortune with the latest technology. The American author and humorist satirically called this period (1870-1917) the Gilded Age because of the extravagant display of opulence resulting from unparalleled wealth using the latest technological development. But the Gilded Age was also a period of greed, corruption and horrific labor conditions for women, men and children. It is not technology that is at stake but the misuse or overuse of it. The dualistic aspect of technology, constructive and destructive, is underlined many times in the book.

I have defined technology as the expression of our will to live, to make life easier and better. Surely life condition has improved since the beginning of the Renaissance. No one would want to go back to the past where, using a quote from the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, life was nasty, brutish and short. However, in this ascending trend, I suggest throughout the book that practical wisdom be our guiding principle in the use of technology. Fast forward to our current time, Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology can produce miracles but could also have devastating effects if not planed and used properly. I am pleased that technologists and policy makers are aware of it.

Progress is a reality. But in the same vein, consideration must also be given to the Bertrand Russell’s quote: “Change is one thing, progress is another. Change is scientific, progress is ethical; Change is indubitable whereas progress is a matter of controversy. This explains the reason of lengthy and incomplete discussions particularly in the area of Health such as stem cells or immortality and in the Economy such as the lack of work and the gap between the haves and have-nots. In this changing environment a shift of perspective is needed. Certain jobs taken for granted will disappear and replace by others more rewarding. Needless to say that this change will have a great impact on the social programs in terms of retraining, early retirement and possibly, as a remedy, the implementation of a universal basic income. 

In our history an economically seamless society has always been sought explicitly or not throughout the many revolutions and political reforms. Disposable income varies greatly between individuals and, in countries where democracy prevails, taxation, education, pension and health reforms can be seen as instruments to achieve a fair balance in the purchasing power and fulfillment of individual needs. As to whether this goal could be totally achieved remains a moot point because it is a moving target and also income distribution means different things to different people, groups of people of different political ideology. It is not the aim of my book to expand on this fluid subject, but in the context of technological development outcomes manifested in new products and services availability, the increasing gap between the Haves and have-nots has a different meaning. It covers many grounds: well-being, wants versus needs and, more importantly, affordability of goods and services to most. Technological innovations tend to be expensive at the beginning with substantial price reduction as the product or service penetrates the market.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the commonly used measure of the total output of a country’s economic performance in terms of the value of the marketed goods and services for a particular period. In the book I have provided a table from the World Bank showing a constant progression of the world’s GDP from 1960 to 2015 with very few exceptions such as the globalization surge in the mid 1980’s, the Great Recession of 2008 and the oil price fall in 2014. This does not mean that productivity is on an ascending path. Most developed countries have been experiencing a constant decrease in their productivity based, inter alia, to a lack of startup businesses. But there is another probable explanation. I believe that it relates to the technological frontier, the position that the United States and other First World countries occupy now. 

The creative economist Giovanni Dosi in Innovation, Organization and Economic Dynamics has defined the technological frontier as the “highest level reached upon a technological path with respect to the relevant technological and economic dimensions.” Many new radical innovations need to enter the market to cross this frontier like computers, transistor, internet, portable phones etc. did in the recent past. No one could have imagined in the preceding century the economic impact of these innovations. It is one of the main reasons why technological development must be embraced without being alarmed. Throughout its existence Homo sapiens has crossed many boundaries. The emergence of language, the invention of the printing press in 1450, the electric telegraph in 1774, computers in 1837, transistor in 1947 etc. We are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution with automation affecting our way of living. Our success depends on how we adapt to this new environment.

Back to the GDP, there is a general assumption that the higher the GDP, the better it is for all of us. But, is this an accurate statement? While the GDP provides a relatively good picture of a country economic performance, it was not designed to address the well being of a society. There are other tools for this particular purpose. In the book, I have used both the Global Creativity Index and the Social Progress Index to provide the position of few countries. In the former, an overall ranking of countries is made on the combination technology, talent and tolerance.

They are the drivers of economic growth by fostering creativity. The latter has eliminated the traditional limitations of the GDP in the measurement of social progress by the exclusion of economic variables and the use of outcome measures rather than inputs. In other words, how better off are people irrespective of how many resources have been used. Combining three dimensions—basic human needs, foundations of well-being and opportunities—the report defines social progress as the capacity of a society to meet the basic needs of its citizens, establishes the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and creates the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.

1. Acceleration of Connectivity worldwide.

2. Readiness for Pandemic Diseases.

3. Reduction of poverty and the gap between the Haves and have nots.

4. Enhancement of Human Rights.

5. Restoration of the Environment

Where are we heading to? A term used among futurists to qualify this evolutionary path is “Singularity”. For the sake of simplicity, I have retained, among others, this definition of singularity by James Martin, a world-renowned leading futurist, computer scientist, author and lecturer: Singularity “is a break in human evolution that will be caused by the staggering speed of “technological evolution”. In other words many radical changes of increased frequencies will occur in the next two decades. I believe that we are heading to a qualitative difference in society with fewer natural limitations with a higher level of comfort, at least in developed countries. Conceivably, this will have a ripple effect in less developed countries. Adaptation to this new way of living depends on the choice that we make supported by practical wisdom. The combined effect of low mortality and birth rate, better disposable income may give some people the flexibility to experience the fruits of another career while others may decide to enjoy more leisure time.


Click Here to Add a Title


A Path to Complexity


An Inevitability


Socioeconomic Impact of Technology 




Progress: Fiction or Reality


A New Perspective




      Notes and Glossary 




Recommended Reading

How China Escaped the Poverty Trap

This is the title of our best pick for this month. The  book's title says it all. China went to many changes in the last century before emerging as a developed country.

Summary by Winner, Peter Katzenstein Book Prize (Department of Government, Cornell University)

Before markets opened in 1978, China was an impoverished planned economy governed by a Maoist bureaucracy. In just three decades it evolved into the world's second-largest economy and is today guided by highly entrepreneurial bureaucrats. In How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, Yuen Yuen Ang explains this astonishing metamorphosis. Rather than insist that either strong institutions of good governance foster markets or that growth enables good governance, Ang lays out a new, dynamic framework for understanding development broadly. Successful development, she contends, is a co-evolutionary process in which markets and governments mutually adapt.

By mapping this co-evolution, Ang reveals a startling conclusion: poor and weak countries can escape the poverty trap by first harnessing weak institutions—features that defy norms of good governance—to build markets. Further, she stresses that adaptive processes, though essential for development, do not automatically occur. Highlighting three universal roadblocks to adaptation, Ang identifies how Chinese reformers crafted enabling conditions for effective improvisation.

How China Escaped the Poverty Trap offers the most complete synthesis to date of the numerous interacting forces that have shaped China’s dramatic makeover and the problems it faces today. Looking beyond China, Ang also traces the co-evolutionary sequence of development in late medieval Europe, antebellum United States, and contemporary Nigeria, and finds surprising parallels among these otherwise disparate cases. Indispensable to all who care about development, this groundbreaking book challenges the convention of linear thinking and points to an alternative path out of poverty traps.


Learn More