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Did You Know | Shift Happens

October 16, 2007

Greetings from Pittsburgh, the city of the two Andys -- Carnegie and Warhol. (More on that in another post.) I'm here for the presentation of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, which was inaugurated in 2001 by more than twenty of the institutions which Andrew Carnegie established in his lifetime. The award is given every two years to one or more individuals who have dedicated their private wealth to the public good. According to the official program, medalists must have a vision of philanthropy that reflects the ideals and breadth of Andrew Carnegie; have a proven track record; and have made a significant impact on a particular field, nation, or group of people, either national or internationally. The 2007 awardees are Eli Broad, the Heinz family, the Mellon family, and the Tata family of India.

But all that happens tomorrow.

I've been en route today and haven't had a lot of time to meet with or think about the awardees. Earlier today, however, I got an e-mail from my friend Margaret Egan, a seasoned nonprofit and foundation pro, that included a link to a great Power Point-link video on YouTube. Now, if I was a younger, hipper guy, I'd just give you the link and send you off to check it out whenever the spirit moved you.

But I'm not.

So what follows is a transcription of the presentation, which was created by someone named Karl Fisch. A warning: It's kind of geeky and tech-centric, and not exactly related to philanthropy. But if you care about globalization, education reform, the impact of accelerating technological change on humankind, and America's place in the world, I think you'll find it of interest. Enjoy.


Did You Know?

Sometimes size does matter.

If you're one in a million in China...there are 1,300 people just like you.

In India, there are 1,100 people just like you.

The 25 percent of the population in China with the highest IQs...is greater than the total population of North America.

In India, it's the top 28 percent.

Translation for teachers: They have more honors kids than we have kids.

Did you know?

China will soon become the number-one English-speaking country in the world.

If you took every single job in the U.S. today and shipped it to China...China would still have a labor surplus.

While you are reading this:

  • 60 babies will be born in the U.S.
  • 224 babies will be born in China
  • 351 babies will be born in India

The U.S. Dept. of Labor estimates that today's learner will have 10 to 14 jobs...by age 38.

According to the U.S. Dept . of Labor, 1 out of 4 workers today is working for a company for whom they have been employed less than 1 year.

More than 1 out of 2 are working for a company for whom they have worked less than 5 years.

According to former Secretary of Education Richard Riley, the top 10 jobs that will be in demand in 2010 didn't exist in 2004.

We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist...using technologies that haven't yet been invented...in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet.

Name this country --

  • Richest in the world
  • Largest military
  • Center of world business and finance
  • Strongest education system
  • World center of innovation and invention
  • Currency the world standard of value
  • Highest standard of living

Answer: England...in 1900.

Did you know?

The U.S. is 20th in the world in broadband Internet penetration (Luxembourg just passed us).

Nintendo invested more than $140 million in research and development in 2002.

The U.S. federal government spent less than half as much on research and innovation in education.

1 of every 8 couples married in the U.S. in 2005 met online.

There are over 106 million registered users of MySpace (as of Sept. 2006)

If MySpace were a country, it would be the 11th-largest in the world (between Japan and Mexico).

The average MySpace page is visited 30 times a day.

Did you know?

We are living in exponential times.

There are over 2.7 billion searches performed on Google each month. (To whom were these questions addressed B.G. -- before Google?)

The number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the population of the planet.

There are about 540,000 words in the English language...about 5 times as many as during Shakespeare's time.

More than 3,000 new books are published...daily.

It is estimated that a week's worth of the New York Times...contains more info than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.

It is estimated that 1.5 exabytes (1.5 x 1018 ) of unique new information will be generated worldwide this year.

That's estimated to be more than in the previous 5,000 years.

The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years.

For students starting a four-year technical or college degree, this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.

It is predicted to double every 72 hours by 2010.

Third-generation fiber optic has recently been tested by both NEC and Alcatel that pushes 10 trillion bits per second down one strand of fiber.

That's 1,900 CDs or 150 million simultaneous phone calls, every second.

It's currently tripling about every 6 months and is expected to do so for at least the next 20 years.

The fiber is already there. They're just improving the switches on the ends, which means the marginal cost of these improvements is effectively $0.

Predictions are that e-paper will be cheaper than real paper.

47 million laptops were shipped worldwide last year.

The $100 laptop project is expecting to ship between 50 million and 100 million laptops a year to children in poor and developing countries.

Predictions are that by 2013 a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capability of the human brain.

By 2023, when 1st-graders will be just 23 years old and beginning their first careers...it will only take a $1,000 computer to exceed the capabilities of the human brain.

And while technical predictions farther out than about 15 years are hard to make...predictions are that by 2049 a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the human race.

What does it all mean?

Shift happens.


Here's the link to the original.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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Posted by Carsten  |   October 17, 2007 at 10:06 PM

Dear ??? (I couldn't find a name on this page, sorry)

The figures about China obviously amaze.

That's what they are supposed to do: Party X uses them to raise an unconscious fear about China (and India) and thereby support the conclusions/proposals of X. As an example, in Germany similar figures served to prevent wage increases for several years.

But actually, what is the problem? Countries big as China and India not only produce large amounts of bright people, but they also require large amounts of bright people. They will have a huge market that needs to be filled with goods and inventions. Figures as above presume that an increasing amount of people will compete for a fixed dish. But the dish also increases.

This is best illustrated by using the example of England given above. Is England poor today and the US rich? Not really, isn't it?

Posted by Sean Stannard-Stockton  |   October 18, 2007 at 10:31 AM

I look forward to hearing about the Carnegie Medal. I recorded a podcast with William Thomson, Carnegie's great-grandson, and discussed the Medal and William's thoughts about philanthropy. Thought you might like to hear it. You can find it here:


Posted by Mitch Nauffts  |   October 18, 2007 at 10:50 PM

Carsten --

Thanks for your comment. It brings to mind the famous bet offered in 1980 by the pro-growth economist Julian Simon to the leading neo-Malthusian of the day, Paul Ehrlich (author of The Population Bomb and The Limits to Growth, among other tracts).

For those who don't remember, Simon, who believed that population-driven depletion of resources was mitigated over the long haul by human imagination and increasing wealth, convinced Ehrlich and two of his colleagues, John Harte and John Holdren (perhaps the leading proponent of climate catastrophe in the U.S. today), to bet on whether the price of a basket of five metals -- aluminum, nickel, tungsten, chromium, and copper -- would rise or fall over the course of the decade. As it turned out, the price of each metal dropped over the next ten years (for largely one-time, circumstantial reasons, claimed Simon's critics), and Simon was hailed as a conquering hero by proponents of the Chicago, free-market school of economics.

As it turned out (hat tip to Wikipedia), Simon made two additional bets with Ehrlich -- both of which he lost. But it didn't matter; his reputation had been cemented, and the population-resource debate, which the neo-Malthusians had dominated since the 1960s, shifted to embrace a more nuanced and (dare I say) optimistic view of humanity's ultimate fate.

Which is not to say I entirely agree with you. Yes, the emergence of China and India as world powers in an integrated global economy should bring unprecedented opportunity and benefits to the more than 2 billion people living in those two countries, while creating equally unprecedented opportunities for multinationals and entrepreneurs around the globe. The pie will get bigger, and more people than ever before will have an opportunity to get a slice -- if (and this is a pretty big "if") the system doesn't break down.

I won't go into the reasons why it could -- this is a blog about philanthropy, not geopolitics. But even if it doesn't, the geopolitical paradigm most Americans take for granted will change. By 2025, the middle class in China will control an additional $10,000 billion of spending power, making China the 2nd-most important consumer country (behind the U.S.) in the global economy; over the same period, India will become the 3rd- or 4th-largest. Today, China and India together control 5 percent of global GDP; by 2045, they'll control 35 percent. By 2045, according to James Wolfensohn, former head of the World Bank, many of the current members of the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the U.S.) will no longer qualify as members. (Based on GDP, China, India, Brazil and Russia, and probably others, will have passed many of the current members.)

In other words, says Sir James, the U.S. faces a challenge of "historic proportions." America's days as a "hyperpower" capable of creating it's "own reality" and imposing it on whomever it chooses surely are numbered, and we'll more than likely come to appreciate, if not embrace, the logic of a multipolar world over the coming decades.

A final thought: The challenge we face would be even more formidable if China, India, and much of the rest of the developing (and developed) world had chosen not to embrace English as they have. (Thank you Elvis, thank you Duke and Marilyn, thank you John, Paul, George and Ringo.)

But I digress...

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