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Closing the Global Governance Gap

The current wave of new technology is likely to transform the world, perhaps more deeply than ever before, and will potentially accelerate economic growth. Finding effective ways to govern in this digital milieu will be the biggest global challenge of the twenty-first century.

WASHINGTON, DC – Technological waves have always driven social and political change and progress, along with economic growth. Gutenberg’s printing press democratized communications, which had long been monopolized by church scribes. The Ottoman Empire’s long ban on printing presses may have been a key reason for its eventual decline. Later on, the steam engine, and then railways, revolutionized production, transport, and trade, and electricity changed almost all aspects of our lives.

Contrary to the view of Northwestern University’s Robert Gordon that current advances in technology are small by historical standards, I believe that today’s technological wave will be at least as transformative as previous waves. Finding effective ways to govern this new technology and its social, political, and economic consequences will be the biggest challenge of the twenty-first century.

At the center of the new technological wave is artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet, complemented by cyber applications, biotechnology, and big data. These technologies have helped to expand globalization by facilitating the establishment of global value chains, the rapid spread of information, and increased financial flows. They have also contributed to large economies of scale in many sectors, producing revenues corporations such as Amazon, Huawei, and Facebook that are an order of magnitude larger than most countries’ gross output.

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