La línea del tiempo del optimista

SEATTLE – Normalmente, "optimismo" y "realismo" se utilizan para describir dos miradas diferentes sobre la vida. Pero creo que una evaluación realista de la condición humana obliga a tener una visión mundial optimista. Yo soy particularmente optimista respecto del potencial de la innovación tecnológica para mejorar las vidas de la gente más pobre del mundo. Es por eso que hago el trabajo que hago.

Aun así, existe un área de la tecnología y el desarrollo global donde la realidad ha atenuado mi optimismo: la idea de que los celulares revolucionarían la vida en los países en desarrollo. Hace diez años, mucha gente creía que gracias a la proliferación de dispositivos móviles en África el  empoderamiento digital estaba a un paso. No fue así. El empoderamiento digital es un proceso largo y continuo, y la simple existencia de tecnología celular no cambia de inmediato la manera en que la gente pobre satisface sus necesidades básicas.

Pero ahora, después de años de inversiones, el empoderamiento digital está en marcha, debido a una confluencia de factores, entre ellos la creciente cobertura de las redes, los dispositivos con más capacidades y un catálogo cada vez mayor de aplicaciones. Cuanta más gente obtiene acceso a una tecnología digital mejor y más barata, finalmente se llega a un punto de inflexión en el que los beneficios de ofrecer servicios digitalmente, como bancarización y salud, claramente superan los costos. Las empresas entonces están dispuestas a hacer las inversiones necesarias para construir nuevos sistemas, y los clientes pueden aceptar los costos de la transición que implica adoptar nuevos comportamientos.

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