“Wither goest though, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” – Jack Kerouac
The pace and direction of human evolution in the last 20 years has been founded on the singular force of technology hyper-acceleration. Since 1995, the power of computing has increased over 50 fold while the cost has been reduced to a third, the pace of content creation has increased over 500 times, the availability of content at any given time by 10,000 fold, and the speed of content dissemination by over 3.5 billion times.
Access to modern computing capabilities has grown from under 150 million people, the vast majority in wealthy countries, to over 5 billion people. The cumulative impact of increased power, reduced cost and accelerated access has led to an 85 quintillion-fold increase in 20 years, that is, 85, followed by 18 zeros. This hyper-acceleration has seen technology move from the narrow confines of the largest governments and corporations, to become an integral part of all aspects of human endeavour, across its various manifestations in individual interactions, economic organization, and social structures, and has a had a greater impact on the human condition than the accumulated progress of the 5,000 years of civilization which preceded it.
The convergence of innovation and enterprise that made this unprecedented proliferation of technology possible, however, was marred by an original sin that has, in under a generation, unraveled much of its progress and impact. The first wave of widely available technologies remained a closely guarded and proprietary preserve of innovators and entrepreneurs, who eventually morphed into the corporate colossuses of our time.
Even as these technologies became foundational to the activities of individuals, governments, enterprises, and societies, the pace and direction of innovation became beholden to the commercial interests of a small group of technology companies. This concentration of control within a relatively narrow class of innovators, over what was supposed to be an abundant and widely accessible utility, creates impediments in the way of progress, and the squandering of much of the potential of technology; technology that has the potential to solve the greatest issues facing humanity in the 21st Century.
The ERA Digital Foundation is a coalition of global leaders who share an unwavering commitment to sustainable economic development, the courage to challenge incumbency and inertia and a passionate desire to reconstruct the digital economy for the greater good of all of humanity.
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