Why the world is not flat…yet
FAST-FORWARD TO THE YEAR 2100. Computers, writes physicist and futurist Michio Kaku in Physics of the Future (Doubleday, 2011), will have humanlike intelligence, the Internet will be accessible via contact lenses, nanobots will eliminate cancers, space tourism will be cheap and popular, and we’ll be colonizing Mars. We will be a planetary civilization capable of consuming the 1017 watts of solar energy falling on Earth to meet our energy needs, with the Internet as a worldwide telephone system; English and Chinese as the contenders for a planetary language; a unified culture of common foods, fashions and films; and a truly global economy with many more international trading blocs such as we see today in the European Union and NAFTA.
Kaku’s vision of how the exchange of science, technology and ideas among all peoples will create a global civilization with greatly weakened nation-states and almost no war is epic in its scope and heroic in its inspiration. Many have felt similar hope for a united, peaceful future through globalization. Indeed, I evoked a similar image in my book The Mind of the Market (Holt, 2009), and I was inspired in part by Thomas Friedman’s wildly popular The World Is Flat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005), in which he argues for “a global, Web-enabled playing field that allows for multiple forms of collaboration on research and work in real time, without regard to geography, distance or, in the near future, even language.” (continue reading…)