esther_dyson's picture
Investor; Chairman, EDventure Holdings; Executive Founder, Wellville; Author: Release 2.0
Editor, Release 1.0; Trustee, Long Now Foundation; Author, Release 2.0

The Attention Of The World's Rich Will Turn To Solving The Problems Of The Poor

Many of the venture capitalists I know are turning to environmental and energy investments; the more adventurous ones are looking at health care (not just drugs), low-end PCs, products for the masses. They are funding training schools in India — for-profit — rather than just donating to legacy universities in the US. The watch-word is "sustainability:" In plain English, that means making a profit so that more profit-seeking investors will enter and enlarge the market.

They will have a variety of motivations, ranging from altruism and the desire to solve problems, to a need for recognition or sheer belief in the profitability of doing so, but the result will be cause for optimism all the same. Millions of investors and entrepreneurs will apply their resources and talents to improving products, distribution systems, training and education and health-care facilities targeted at the billions of people at the bottom of the pyramid. In our fluid world of competition and fast-spreading information, some people will still get rich by being first and smartest, but most will get rich by implementing well and serving broader markets. For the first time in history, power is really moving to the masses, not as a power block, but as a market.

Of course, all those billions of people will also be producers...and a broader spread of education and productivity tools — ranging from water pumps to cell phones and PCs — will enable them to join the world economy as productive people.

Yes, this is an optimistic view and it won't all be simple, but the forces — from human dignity to human greed — are aligned. You asked for the optimistic view....and optimism will help make it happen!